Are you tired of the same exercise regimen? Try exercising outdoors. Did you know exercising outdoors can provide many benefits? Of course, the health benefits of exercise are significant. Yet, a lack of exercise can increase the risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and strokes.
Being physically active can be enjoyable and fun. So, why not try exercise outdoors. Research has proven exercising outdoors can decrease tension, confusion, anger, depression and even enhance your mood and self-esteem. Overall, exercising outdoors can boost your mental health and provide you with a pleasurable workout in the fresh spring air.
If you’re still unsure of the benefits of outdoor exercise, maybe these additional facts can prompt a change:
By now I’m sure you’ve begun to plan your next outdoor exercise adventure. While outdoors drink plenty of water, wear a sunscreen protectant, and avoid extreme temperatures.
As always, remember to check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.
Berman, Stacy (2012, April 18) The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise. HuffPost Healthy LivingIIiades, Chris, MD (2009, December 9) The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise. Everyday Health
Glancing at the two words above, one may think that I’m attempting to debut an innovative new health dish; however, what I’m about to share may positively change the way you eat your most favorite dishes forever! Spaghetti squash, or Curcubita pepo, is a variation of winter squash that has a spaghetti noodle-like consistency. In order to grow your own spaghetti squash, you will need full sunlight and loose, fertile soil. Now is actually the perfect time in the Louisiana climate to begin planting your seeds as our last winter freeze is said to have passed. If you are starting from a squash transplant, you want to aim for approximately 2 weeks after the last frost to ground your plant. Spaghetti squash can be found pretty regularly in the supermarkets but if you’re looking for locally grown, you should check out the farmer’s market between the months of June and September.
Now let’s get to the nutritional component of consuming spaghetti squash! Spaghetti squash is an excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fiber. It is also a good source of niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, potassium and manganese. So what does this mean in terms of health benefits?
-Reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers-Promotes healthy cell functioning-Prevents cell damage-Helps to lower blood pressure-Promotes proper brain functioning-Has anti-inflammatory properties-Promotes a healthy weight
Something that is special about this particular vegetable is that it can serve as a nutrient packed alternative to regular pasta. It has a similar consistency and taste to regular pasta while providing your body with copious amounts of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. To prepare, start by cutting the squash in half, lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and pulp.
Cooking Methods:-Bake with the rind side up for 30 to 40 minutes at 375 degrees.-Microwave for 6 to 8 minutes.-Boil for about 20 minutes.
After the cooking portion is complete, you can separate the strands by raking a fork from stem to stem.
You can enjoy your spaghetti squash in the same fashion you would any pasta. Spaghetti and meatballs and Fettuccini Alfredo are two I would recommend testing out!
Resources:Self Nutrition Data
New Health Guide
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
Backyard Gardening Blog
Have your ever heard someone comment on a youth he or she knew and utter these words: His family gave him love and nurturing, but it appears that was not enough. He robbed and killed someone for no apparent reason. She came from a loving and beautiful family and her parents gave her the best of everything, so why did she choose a life of substance abuse at such an early age? While infant and toddler brains develop very quickly, the adolescent brain experiences rapid change somewhat the same however the pruning is done swiftly while stronger experiences endure. Many changes are occurring and more “outside” or away from home (family) experiences are more influential. Like the research being done with infant brains, the MRI is also used to better understand the adolescent’s brain.
Researchers, scientists and physicians all agree that the part of the brain called the frontal or prefrontal cortex is where complex and complicated decisions are made. Critical judgments and decisions are not yet matured. Research states that the brain of the adolescent develops somewhat differently from the child. The adolescent brain develops myelin, which insulates the nerve fibers and speeds neural processing occurring in the frontal lobes. Neurotransmitters send electrical messages of “feelings” throughout the body. Dopamine sends messages of “good feelings” and eventually these feelings reach what is called “tolerance." Another area in the brain that is responsible for the emotional status of teens is called the limbic. Many changes are taking place, but the parts of the brain which develop first involve physical coordination, emotions, and motivational regions. Researchers believe this may be the reason or possible cause for some teens having difficulty or possessing the inability to control their emotions and reactions. And yet other researchers state this may explain the dramatic or overactive behavior in many boys and even some girls. It is believed that this part of the brain does not mature until around the age of 25.
References: Virginia Cooperative ExtensionNational Institute of Mental Healthwww.childwelfare.gov
How would you like to not have to worry about what to cook for dinner tonight or how many calories you are taking in or have used up? It can be a daunting task to keep up with meal planning and calorie counting. However, these tasks can become easier if you have the right app.
So, let’s check out these 5 apps for planning meals and counting calories:
Do you hate trying to figure out what to eat or make for dinner? Well, Five Plates provides you with a grocery list of whole foods that is delivered directly to your home weekly with ingredients for five different meals. This app is free.
Is your recipe board too full on Pinterest? Do you know what’s in your pantry? You can create meal plans, import your favorite recipes from the Internet, inventory your pantry and integrate all of that to create a weekly grocery list. No more stress. This app is $2.99.
This app is used for losing or maintaining weight. With one of the largest food databases, it allows you to enter your own recipes and the app figures out the nutritional content. It includes other features such as an exercise database, goal tracker and friend tracker to help you stay motivated. This app is free.
This app keeps track of the calories that you have eaten and how much exercise is needed to eliminate those extra calories. This app is equipped with a bar code scanner which is much easier than putting in your food information. It helps you in that it subtracts calories when you have exercised. This app is free for the basic version, but costs $39.99 per year if you enroll in the premium weight-loss program.
Eating out and traveling frequently can make it hard to count calories and plan meals, but there is an app that can help you navigate the food choices in restaurant menus. It includes over 250 restaurants and 60,000 food items with all the nutritional information needed. This app is free - can you believe it!
Well folks, now that you have apps that can help you in your quest for a healthy lifestyle, let’s get this done the right way. Happy eating.
Let’s face it: As winter trudges on and we find ourselves feeling more and more sluggish, we need an extra boost. I propose that the boost be the addition of color in our fruits and vegetables. These foods are colorful because they contain different nutrients and research shows variety is equally important as quantity when it comes to healthy eating. In short, an all-greens diet won’t give you all of the nutrients your body needs to function well. Today’s Dietician states that we need a diet full of a variety of natural phytochemicals. Let’s take a look at the nutrients found in our most colorful fruits and vegetables.
Nutrients: Our Granny Smiths get that beautiful red color from natural pigments, such as lycopene and anthrocyanins. They are antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that also have been linked to cancer prevention.
Fruits and veggies to try: Red apples, red peppers, beets, pomegranates, red cabbage, red potatoes, cherries, radishes, cranberries, raspberries, pink grapefruit, rhubarb, red grapes, strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon.
Nutrients: Those beautiful oranges and golds in our carrots and squashes are caused by carotenoids like alpha carotene, beta carotene and beta cryptoxanthin. They convert our nutrients into vitamin A and serve as antioxidants for our eyes.
Fruits and veggies to try: Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squashes and surprisingly dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach and peas. The dark green pigments mask the orange/yellow ones.
Nutrients: When we think of vegetables, we of course think of green first. That’s because the green pigment is packed with vitamins, nutrients and fiber.
Fruits and veggies to try: Cabbage, spinach, kale, collards, broccoli, romaine and iceberg lettuce.
Nutrients: These are the rarest colors in fruits and vegetables. They also contain anthrocyanins and other vitamins and minerals that boost eye health, antioxidants and heart health.
Fruits and veggies to try: Blueberries, blackberries and purple potatoes.
Source: A color-coded guide to nutrients in your fruits & vegetables by Lauren Van Wert, February 17, 2014Reposted with permission from www.hellawella.com.
Physical fitness and health are vital at any age and body size. Larger people face several challenges when it comes to fitness and physical activity. There could be marked difficulty in accessing their full range of motion (bending or stretching). There may be difficulty finding exercise clothing and exercise equipment. You may even have some self-consciousness in relation to beginning an exercise routine or being physically active around other individuals (the “will they judge me?” moments); however, these are not good reasons to forgo being active. Facing challenges can be hard, but don’t lose heart because you can beat these challenges!
Before beginning any new workout regimens be sure to consult your physician. Activities such as swimming or exercising while sitting put less stress on your joints due to the fact that your legs are not supporting the weight of your body. Remember physical activity doesn’t have to be hard or boring to be good for you. Anything that gets you moving (walking, dancing, gardening, mowing the lawn, mopping your house), even if it’s only for a few short minutes a day, is a great start to getting more fit. If you commit to being physically active on a regular basis, your body will thank you. You will be making a difference towards your own health and well-being. Even if the activity level doesn’t prompt weight loss you will still have a lowered risk of getting many diseases, and if the physical activity does prompt weight loss you’ll get even more health benefits.
Just as diet and exercise are linked to a variety of health conditions, so is oral health.
Oral health is linked to heart disease. Studies indicate that people with moderate or advanced periodontal disease are almost twice more likely to have other health conditions than those with healthy gums. Because the mouth is a pathway to the body, it is suggested that gum disease may contribute to heart disease. Bacteria from infected gums can be dislodged and enter the bloodstream where it can attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation. As a result, the blood flow to the heart is decreased which causes an elevation in blood pressure and increases the risk of a heart attack.
Oral health is linked to obesity. It has not been noted until recently that an increased body mass index (BMI) is further related to dental health. When evaluated, people with an increased BMI had slightly worse dental health including gum disease, premature tooth loss and bad breath.
Oral health is linked to cancer. Poor oral health was found to be associated with oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection which causes HPV-related cancer. HPV needs wounds in the mouth to enter and infect the oral cavity. Poor oral health which may include ulcers, mucosal disruption, or chronic inflammation, may create an entry portal for HPV.
Oral health is linked to diabetes. Bacteria that builds on teeth makes the gums prone to infection. The infection causes the gums to become inflamed. The inflammation can weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar.
Make a list of the things that you LOVE to do and enjoy them. Your list may include:
If these are fun things that you love to do, then try them at least once a week or more if you feel like it. It’s good for your heart and your life.
Want to play Heartbreak?
Draw an outline of a large heart and draw several small hearts inside. Post your large heart on the wall or a door and draw a start line to stand behind to throw your darts. Take turns with a couple of friends throwing your darts, hoping that someone is making contact and the darts are sticking to the hearts. When your dart lands on a heart, mark it with your name and after all the hearts are taken, count up the amount that you have collected. If you have the most hearts, you win, but make sure that your darts don’t land on another person’s heart, because then you lose your turn. This is a fun game for children and adults to play to see how many hearts they can break.
Statistics Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day. It beats more when you exercise, get excited or are scared.
Let’s eat right so that our hearts keep beating to the max! Eat a healthy breakfast every day and get a smart start for your heart.
Resources: Smart Choices – Lesson 5: Youth Fact Sheet
Clean eating seems like a relatively new phrase. But clean eating as a concept started in the 1960s as a backlash to overly processed foods, and has since made its way to the barbells and biceps of our friends at the gym and foodies alike.
What exactly does that mean though? There’s a different definition for clean eating, depending on who you ask. Here are few quick tips for eating clean.
Lifestyle vs. awareness
For some people, clean eating is a strict lifestyle, while for others it’s a way to purge the cupboards of bad foods and bad habits.
Avoiding processed foods
Choose natural, whole grain and unrefined foods, and stay away from those that are processed. This really is about eating more natural foods, free of additives and preservatives. Also, watch out for fats, sodium, sugar and processed foods by reading labels and choosing products that have natural ingredients. This is important because there are some misconceptions that eating clean means doing away with foods like pasta or crackers, which isn’t necessarily true. Eating clean means getting rid of foods with large amounts of sugar and sodium. If you can identify the ingredients in a product, then you’re still eating clean.
Choosing protein wisely
Every meal should contain some protein, but make sure that the meat comes from grass-fed stock. Otherwise, your meat most likely comes from factory-raised animals that are fed corn and soy and pumped with hormones to fatten them up quickly. Not only is grass-fed meat free of those impurities, but it also tends to taste better.
Eating frequently but with smaller portions
Meals should be small and consumed 5 to 6 times per day. This helps to keep blood-sugar levels balanced and to fight off hunger through portion control.
Avoiding empty-calorie drinks
Stay away from high-calorie drinks. Stick mostly to water and unsweetened teas instead of sugar-dense, empty-calorie specialty coffee drinks or sodas. Again, clean eating is about making the most of your calories by eating natural, unprocessed and low-sugar items.
Source:What exactly does 'clean eating' mean anyway? by Lauren Van Wert, January 31, 2014Reposted with permission from www.hellawella.com.
Fiber is important for many reasons. It fills us up with fewer calories so we feel full faster and eat less food. Fiber is also important for our digestive system. This is what grandma called “being regular.” Whether you have a problem with constipation or diarrhea, adding more fiber along with drinking plenty of water can help regulate your digestive system.
The most important reasons for eating fiber have to do with our health, and these reasons are especially important if you have diabetes. Here are some health advantages you might benefit from by increasing your fiber intake:
· Lowers your risk of developing food related cancers such as breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer.
· Lowers your risk of heart disease by slowing down the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
· Lowers your risk of obesity. Since fiber fills us, we tend to eat less food and therefore consume fewer calories when eating high fiber meals.
· Lowers your risk of diabetes. Eating a high fiber meal slows down the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream, helping to prevent an increase in blood sugar after eating.
How much fiber do you need each day? Women need about 25 grams of fiber a day and men need about 35 grams of fiber a day. Reading the nutrition fact label on foods can help you determine how much fiber you’re consuming.
What should you eat to increase your fiber intake? Fresh fruits and vegetables are a good place to start, especially fruits with seeds like berries and edible skin, such as apples and pears. Peas, corn and potatoes, with the skin on, are all high in fiber. Remember that these vegetables are also higher in carbohydrates than most vegetables, so watch your portion sizes. Whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds are also good sources of fiber. Eating a high fiber cereal, such as oatmeal for breakfast and snacking on fresh fruit, raw veggies or popcorn are simple ways to add more fiber. Whichever high fiber foods you choose, remember that portion size counts. As with anything you eat, watch how many carbohydrates you’re consuming and balance your meals and snacks.
How to get started? Start by keeping track of everything you eat and drink. Read labels to find out how much fiber is in the foods you’re eating. Once you know how much fiber you need to add, make a plan to add one fiber rich food every day until you’re at your goal. Begin to benefit from the healthy advantages of eating a high fiber diet.
Source: Reposted with permission from Diana Fair: Make fiber a part of your day by Diana Fair, Michigan State University Extension
Baked Macaroni and cheese, oatmeal cookies, fried chicken, fried fish, butter pecan ice cream – these are some of the foods that we turn to when we are depressed or stressed over different things in our lives.
These types of food only soothe our feelings for a moment and then we are back where we started. If we eat too much of a certain type of food or avoid eating another type of food, it can have an effect on our mood in the long and short term.
Instead of reaching for that cookie or fried chicken, reach for an apple or pear and spread some peanut butter on it. Eating this type of food will have a lasting effect because it is healthy and good for the body. Normally, after we eat something that is not healthy or good for us, we become depressed and regret eating the food or so much of the food. We have just added another stress factor to our lives.
When we select foods that are healthy and nutritious, we add strength to our brains and enhance our emotional health.
Skipping meals or going on fad diets can increase your chance of depression leading to stress or other issues in life. Diets don’t work; they only help for a moment and then the weight comes back. The foods you eat impact how you feel, so try to make nutritious choices every day.
Once I was enrolled in college, one very interesting subject was early childhood development. I seem to be immediately drawn to the teachings of the mind (brain) and its developmental process. Learning about the cognitive development and the study of the brain intrigued me and sparked my interest greatly. Now, I am afforded the opportunity to teach about the infant’s brain development, and like me, many others (parents) find the subject fascinating and are curious to learn as much as possible about their child’s brain.
Over the last decade, research has increased tremendously on early brain development. With the surge in technology, this new frontier of technological research uses terms such as neuroimaging or magnetic resonance, which captures the experiences of the brain. Due to work I have experienced during most of my career, studying and learning about the effects of abuse and neglect has also been interesting. What I have learned from research based data and share with others is that the experiences during the early years of the child is not just mental - the effects can similarly impact the child emotionally and behaviorally throughout his or her life. Although there is much research which differs on whether genetics or the environment determine significant development of our outlook on life, it's clear those positive or negative experiences that shape our future started early on.
Understanding the development of the infant brain is vital and important to the mother and to the entire family. Parents who attend parenting education classes learn about the child’s early development and are encouraged to stimulate the child’s interest with as many experiences as possible.
Some brain enhancement experiences include:
Starting this process early on will enhance all the child’s developmental domains. This mother child stimulation assists nurturing the child and causes the brain (neurons and synapse) to respond positively and productively to the experiences of the infant or child.
Such practices as reading, singing and playing with the child are noteworthy experiences that help with the growth and development of the child. All these occurrences help brain systems and brain development.
This is the first of three blogs emphasizing the importance, basics and essentials of the brain. It is the hope that this information will teach and benefit the reader with not just the understanding and fundamentals of the brain but will also motivate parents to begin a relationship with their child that will be one of emotional development and guide the child’s temperament and socialization skills from his/her earliest experiences.
References: Healthy Beginnings Parenting Program, LSU AgCenter & SU Ag CenterEffects of Maltreatment on Brain Development, www.childwelfare.gov
Canned fruits and vegetables serve as a nonperishable and safe substitute for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Consumption of canned fruits and vegetables can contribute significantly to meeting dietary needs. They are great for soups, casseroles, stews and other mixed dishes and in smoothies.
Canned fruits and vegetables are important sources of nutrients because they are canned soon after harvest when loss of nutrients is minimal and quality is high. Some nutrients are lost during the canning process, but once canned, they maintain most of their vitamin and mineral content throughout shelf life. Some disease fighting nutrients (phytochemicals) become even more available to the body as a result of the canning process. Examples are lycopene in tomato paste and lutein in corn; also the beta carotene (Vitamin A) content in canned pumpkin is three times higher than in cooked fresh pumpkin.
Canned fruits and vegetables are flavorful and convenient because they are already peeled, cut, sliced and cooked and require just reheating before use.
They are also useful in stretching food dollars because they are often cheaper than their fresh counterparts and available all year. Since they last for years, it is cheaper to buy in bulk during sales and you can save even more by using coupons.
Wipe the top of can with a wet cloth before opening. Discard the can if it spurts out when opening or has a strange smell or appearance. If your canned vegetables are not reduced salt or salt-free, reduce the sodium content by rinsing with water and draining just before use. Once opened, the food becomes perishable and should be heated and used or stored in the refrigerator right away. Refrigerator storage should not exceed 3 days for canned vegetables and 7 days for canned fruits. To avoid overcooking and prevent loss of nutrients, steam or microwave canned fruits and vegetables instead of boiling for long periods. Always pour out fruits and vegetables from the can before use.
Follow these tips when shopping to choose the best canned foods:
To maintain the nutritive value and quality of canned fruits and vegetables in storage:
Canned fruits and vegetable consumption is safe for most people but should be limited for young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women due to the potential health risks of BPA, a chemical used in the lining of food cans which has been linked to health problems in some laboratory animals.
Sources:American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, Revised and Updated 4th Edition by Betsy Hornick, Roberta Larson Duyff, and Alma Flor AdaSafe Handling of Canned Goods, Clemson Cooperative ExtensionCanned Goods, Utah State University ExtensionSpotlight on Cupboard Storage, Purdue ExtensionStoring canned food, University of Minnesota ExtensionFood Pantry Staples: Canned Vegetables, www.eatsmart.umd.eduCanned Food Myths - Busted!, www.mealtime.org
Brrrr…with the recent cold front sweeping in, there’s been a serious increase in my book reading, snuggling by the fire, lounging with my family, and drinking hot tea with honey - what a glorious time of year! However, in order to significantly increase these fun activities, something in my rigorous schedule had to decrease. Oops, sorry physical activity! So the focal point of this season needs to be balance because both relaxation and physical activity are necessities for your mental and physical well-being. I think we’ve got the relaxation part down pat but how about some ways to work back into the world of physical fitness!
Increasing physical activity close to home:
Increasing physical activity at work:
Increasing physical activity in your free time:
Here are some additional things to keep in mind:
I will lose weight, exercise more, and cut back on the number of sodas I drink and eat less food high in fat. There you have it - I’ve made my New Year’s resolutions. They sound great if I can just stick to them. How many of you are just trying to stick to it? Living a healthier life requires a change in one’s thinking. It will not happen overnight, but with the right tools your goals can be met.
Consider developing a plan that is right for your lifestyle. As you ponder developing a plan, try to remain positive. Negative thinking can lend one to negative outcomes. Living a healthier life can be attainable. Here are a few tips to help you to get started:
Consume more fruits and vegetables. The benefits are plentiful and they are great snacks for eating on the go and low in calories.
Keep water on hand as a go-to beverage. The benefit is zero calories.
Plan your meals and snacks using MyPlate.
Keep a journal to help you identify eating patterns.
Move more using activities that fit your lifestyle.
Be realistic when setting goals.
If you decide to try at least one tip you’re on your way to living a healthier life.
Wait! Did you forget to eat your fruits and vegetables today? More and more Americans are forgetting to eat the proper amount of fruits and vegetables per day. Eating your daily fruits and vegetables can help you fight various diseases and give you a healthier and more productive lifestyle. Well, here are some sneaky ways that we can incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our daily diet.
Smart snacking: Instead of snacking on Lay’s potato chips or your favorite cookie, snack on a celery stick with peanut butter, baby carrots or a banana, pear or mango. A ½ cup equals one serving of fruits or vegetables.
Fruits in plain view: Display fruits on the kitchen counter or table so that when you are walking through the kitchen you can pick up an orange or apple or when leaving the house to run some errands, you can take a handful of grapes or a banana.
Soup: Homemade soup is great this time of year. Homemade soup allows you to get all of your vegetables in one serving. Your homemade soup can contain vegetables such as: carrots, green beans, corn, tomatoes, peas, cabbage and even mushrooms. Sounds healthy?
Planning: When you have free time during the day or night when at home, cut up vegetables for a couple of days and put in zip lock bags for a later date. This helps when you start to cook - everything is ready to prepare the meal.
Fruit and vegetable at every meal: Every meal should include a fruit and vegetable for a balanced meal.
Double up on servings: If you feel that you are not going to get the full amount of your fruits and vegetables, it is good to double up so that you do get the proper amount of fruits and vegetable per day. Doubling up can be an asset in this circumstance.
Salad before or after dinner: Having a salad before or after dinner could be a salad with sautéed mushrooms and corn or a salad mixed with nuts and cut up fruits.
Frozen fruits: Dinner is over and I need something sweet - what about some frozen grapes, strawberries or peach slices? This is a simple and great dessert even for children to eat as snacks.
Smoothie anyone: Blending your favorite fruits or vegetables can lead to a healthy breakfast, lunch or even snack during the day. Remember, you need to get in your fruits and vegetables every day.
Sneak it: Have you ever thought about sneaking something in food that is good for you but others may not like? If so, sneaking is a great idea. Others will not even notice it and will compliment you on the taste.
Okay, I hope these tips help you get all your fruits and vegetables in your diet every day.
Good luck eating all your fruits and vegetables.
Can a handful of nuts a day help keep you healthy? And how much, exactly, is a handful?
Nuts and Your Health
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends: “Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.”
The Dietary Guidelines also recommend fat intake should emphasize heart healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in seafood, nuts, seeds, and oils.
Choose MyPlate (a recommended food pattern to help people implement the dietary guidelines) states, “In general, 1 ounce of meat, poultry, fish, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds can be considered as ‘1-ounce equivalent’ from the Protein Foods Group”
Nuts, with their healthy fats, are higher in calories than some other sources of protein and MyPlate recommends: “Choose unsalted nuts as a snack, on salads, or in main dishes. Use nuts to replace meat or poultry, not in addition to these items. At the 2,000 calorie level, MyPlate recommends approximately 5- ½ “1-ounce equivalents” from the Protein Group."
A Handful of Nuts
How many nuts are in a handful of nuts? A handful equals about 1-ounce. This serving size corresponds to the serving size listed on the “Nutrition Facts” panel on food labels. The International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation gives these examples of the average number of nuts per 1-ounce portion:
Feel Like a Nut?
It’s easy to nibble on nuts. Here are two quick ideas. Store shelled or unshelled nuts in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 6 months or for a year in your freezer for best quality.
It’s in the Bag
You don’t have to fire up the stove or get out your cookbook to enjoy nuts. Your handful of nuts may be enjoyed simply out of hand.
Divide a container of nuts into small snack bags for easy snacking at home, the office, or on the road. Simply count, weigh 1 ounce of nuts on a kitchen scale, or grab a handful and store in each snack bag. Keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy! A handful of nuts may help you resist the gooey sweet roll in the break room at work.
Just a Sprinkle
Sprinkle nuts into these foods:
(16 servings, Serving size: ¼ cup)
1 cup almonds½ cup chocolate chips or M&M’s1 cup dried fruit½ cup dried cranberries1 cup oatmeal squares
Measure ingredients and put in a large zip-close bag. Shake to mix. Portion into single-serving zip-close bags.
Per serving: 140 calories, 20 grams (g) carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 3 g protein
Sources:Trail Mix recipe from the North Dakota State University Extension Service Nuts for Nutrition by Alice Henneman, MS, RD, Extension EducatorUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension - Lancaster County
'Tis the season to be jolly, but in all of our merriment we must not neglect safety. It’s not only essential to ensure that our food is safe; we should also ensure the safety of our homes and families during this time. Here are some tips that can help keep the season merry and bright and accident free. The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year. You can’t avoid stress completely, but you can give yourself some relief. Allow enough time to shop for gifts and meal items rather than hurrying through stores and parking lots. Only plan to do a reasonable number of errands per trip.
1. Never use lit candles around trees, curtains/drapes, or any potentially flammable item.
2. Small children and pets may think that holiday plants look good enough to eat, but many plants can be poisonous or can cause severe stomach problems. Plants to watch out for include: mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherries and amaryllis.
3. When displaying a tree, place it in a sturdy, water holding stand. Keep the stand filled with water so the tree does not dry out quickly. Stand your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources, and be sure that it does not block foot traffic or doorways.
4. If you’re using an artificial tree choose one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant. Artificial trees with built in electrical systems (pre-lit) should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.
5. Use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors. Look for the UL label. Check for broken, cracked, or exposed sockets.
6. Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord.
7. Turn off all lights and decorations when you leave the house or go to bed. Unplug extension cords when not in use.
8. If using a natural tree, keep it watered to avoid dry branches catching fire from the heat of light bulbs.
9. Extension cords should be placed against the wall to avoid tripping hazards, but refrain from running them under rugs, around furniture legs, or across doorways.
10. When displaying outdoor lights, fasten them firmly to secure support with insulated staples or hooks to avoid wind damage. Never nail, tack, or stress wiring when hanging lights and keep plugs off of the ground and away from puddles and snow.
1. When preparing a holiday meal for friends and family be sure to wash hands, utensils, sink, and anything else that has come in contact with raw poultry. Keep in mind that a stuffed bird takes longer to cook.
2. Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw it in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.
3. While doing holiday cooking, keep your knives sharp. Most knife injuries occur due to dull blades.
4. Use a clean food thermometer to cook foods to a safe internal temperature before serving.
5. Avoid cleaning kitchen surfaces with wet dishcloths or sponges. They easily harbor bacteria and promote bacteria growth. Use clean paper towels instead.
6. When reheating leftovers, bring the temperature up to at least 165°F to eliminate any bacterial growth.
7. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in covered shallow containers (less than two inches deep) within two hours after cooking. Date the leftovers for future use.
8. Being a smart party host or guest should include being sensible about alcoholic drinks. More than half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Use designated drivers, people who do not drink, to drive other guests home after a holiday party. Resources:Holiday Season Safety - Permission to reprint granted by the National Safety Council, a membership organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health.
Whole grains to reduce the risk of heart disease and energize our day,Low fat and fat-free milk and milk products, to strengthen our bones and teeth; Fruits and vegetables, healthy heart and digestion, protection against disease;Protein foods: lean meats and fish, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, for body growth and repair.
Thankful for Limbs to Move Every Day
At least thirty minutes of physical activity a day, Walking, biking, dancing, playing sports, tag and many more,To be stronger doing what we love to do,For a healthy heart and a healthy weight,For improved sleep habits and reduced stress.
Thankful for Healthy Living
For the young and the mature, and everyone in between, Making healthy food choices and engaging in physical activity every day, Improves lives and makes a better day.
Resource: What Foods Are in the Grains Group? from www.choosemyplate.gov
Thanksgiving 2013 has arrived! Not sure about anyone else but I have been anxiously awaiting Thanksgiving 2013 since….Thanksgiving 2012! This is my most favorite holiday for a variety of reasons including getting to spend time with family and friends and eat the most delicious foods on the planet. While it is a joyous occasion that features much thankfulness and celebration, it is ideal to keep the celebrating contained so as not to celebrate on into an elevated pants size! Here are some helpful tips that can guide you in the right direction to food bliss instead of food overload:
1. Survey the food items first before you scoop. Take a look at all of the food items available first before you begin to scoop so you can better plan your plate. If you don’t look before you scoop, you could end up with a plate of food much larger than you anticipated - worse than that, you will probably eat it all.
2. Use a smaller plate. It is almost inevitable that if you have a larger plate, you will subconsciously want to put more food on it.
3. Start out with a salad. If you start your meal with a salad, you will be a lot less hungry while filling your Thanksgiving day plate.
4. Drink water with your meal. You will save calories (most other beverages have more calories) as well as be able to better manage your body’s fullness.
5. Try to make ½-¾ of your plate fruits and vegetables. In general, fruits and vegetables are less calorie dense than other foods. By filling up your plate with mostly fruits and vegetables, you will have less room for the calorie dense items.
6. Aim for the smaller portions first. Let’s say there are many dishes that you are dying to try. Go for a 1-2 Tablespoon serving size of each. If you wait 20 minutes after eating and realize you are still hungry, you can go back for seconds of your favorites.
7. Last but not least - enjoy! This is a glorious occasion - so you should enjoy your food! By following these simple portion control tips, you will better be able to hone in on your body cues and stop eating when you’re full.
Resources:Smart Portions: LSU AgCenter Nutrition CurriculumChoosemyplate.gov
Gobble! Gobble! Thanksgiving is a time that brings families and loved ones together to feast, share and kick off the season of eating good food. Using MyPlate you can make your family a healthy and delicious turkey dinner. Here are several tips that can be used this Thanksgiving to create your delicious MyPlate Thanksgiving dinner:
Directions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 3-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, celery and apples; season with salt and pepper and cook until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the almonds, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. Add broth and bring to a simmer.In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and parsley. Add the bread cubes, then add the broth mixture and toss to coat the bread cubes evenly. Transfer the stuffing into the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until golden brown, about 30 more minutes.
The time to give thanks for all we have is here…as is the stress of preparing a meal with big expectations! Let’s hope we can all get through it without setting the turkey on fire or sending our guests away with food poisoning! If you have the honor of preparing the turkey for Thanksgiving and have more questions than answers, here’s some very helpful information!
First, if you’re starting with a frozen turkey, you’ll have to plan ahead to give it an adequate amount of time to thaw. A rule of thumb for refrigerator thawing is five hours for every pound. For example, a 12-pound turkey should be thawed for 60 hours, or 2.5 days. If you have to thaw quicker than that, there is another option. You can fill your sink or a large pail with cold water and submerge the turkey so that it is completely covered. Then, every 30 minutes, change the water, replacing it with cold water. This method allows thawing each pound of turkey in just 30 minutes. So for that same 12-pound turkey, thawing in cold water will take just six hours. If you don’t have adequate time to thaw the turkey, you can cook it from its frozen state, but you’ll have to adjust the cooking time for at least 50 percent longer than is recommended for a fully thawed turkey.
Be sure to remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavities after thawing. If you wish to cook these, do so separately from the turkey. Also, for the most even cooking possible, tuck wings under the shoulders of the bird for more even cooking. Add a ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan and cover with a lid. If your roasting pan does not have a lid, you may place a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the turkey for the first 1 to 1 ½ hours. This allows for maximum heat circulation, keeps the turkey moist, and reduces oven splatter. To prevent overbrowning, foil may also be placed over the turkey after it reaches the desired color.
If you are planning to stuff your turkey, you’ll want to make sure you’re not packing it into the bird, but instead placing the stuffing inside so it is fluffy. Per the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the United States Department of Agriculture, “The stuffing should be moist, not dry, since the heat destroys bacteria more rapidly in a moist environment.” Once the turkey is stuffed, place it in the oven immediately. To ensure the stuffing is cooked properly, use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Always follow the cooking recommendations on the packaging the turkey came in, but as a general rule of thumb, cook the turkey at a minimum of 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, a 12-pound bird will take 3 to 3.5 hours to cook. The meat thermometer is your most important tool in ensuring the meat is cooked thoroughly. A whole turkey is safe when cooked to minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing as well as in the thickest part of the breast. Even if you have a “pop-up” turkey, you should also ensure the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. For the best quality, juiciest turkey, let it stand for 20 minutes after you have removed it from the oven prior to carving it. This also allows for easier carving.
And here are some other “keep-your-days-as-sane-as-possible” tips for preparing the meal:
Prepare as much of the food as you can in advance. Look at your menu and see if there’s anything you can do the day before. For example, if mashed potatoes are on your menu, peel and quarter the potatoes, then cover them in cold water and put in the refrigerator until you are ready to boil. You can make your green bean casserole in advance and refrigerate as well. Putting together a cheese or veggie tray? Plate it up and seal with plastic wrap. Making dressing? Cut up your celery and get your spices ready to go for easy throw-ins just like they do on TV for cooking shows.
Write down a schedule. This will allow for keeping on track with what needs to be done when, but it also allows for others to help with a specific job at a specific time so that you don’t become overwhelmed with seven people asking “How can I help?"
Breathe and remember to laugh. Thanksgiving is a time for thanks and togetherness. If the turkey burns, the dressing is undercooked and the pumpkin pie spills onto your oven, certainly you have a box of macaroni and cheese sitting around, right?
Source: Turkey Time! Tips for a safe and sane feast by Alice Henneman, MS, RD, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Content reposted with permission from www.bestfoodfacts.org.
November is American Diabetes Month, a time to communicate the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of diabetes prevention and control. This month is used as an opportunity to raise awareness of the disease and its serious complications.
Did you know that Type II diabetes can be prevented or even managed through a healthy lifestyle?
Even though medication is sometimes required, eating healthy and staying active are two key components for lowering your blood sugar levels.
Healthy eating habits, safe and sensible physical activity along with maintaining a healthy weight can help you stay healthier longer and reduce your risk of diabetes.
1. Eating healthy is one of the most important things one can do to lower the risk for Type II diabetes. Start by building a healthier plate:
2. Add physical activity to your daily routine. It does not have to be strenuous activity:
3. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important to overall health. Being overweight or obese puts one at a higher risk of developing serious health problems.
Set a realistic plan that you can achieve and MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Halloween is a great kid’s day filled with creative costumes, parties, friends and spooky themes. It is also filled with lots of sugary candy treats.
Along with all the candy eating fun that kids enjoy comes tooth decay and weight gain. To avoid being a part of this dilemma, consider giving healthier treats such as:
Go Natural: If you don’t want to give out sugary treats, why not go natural by visiting your local natural food store. There are a variety of natural candies that could be used as healthier treats.
Homemade Treats: Make homemade treats such as popcorn balls. Remember to wrap the treats and put your name and phone number on the bag for safety reasons.
Alternates to Food Treats: Treats don’t have to be edible - they can also be fun. Think about giving these to trick-or-treaters:
Start Halloween off with this delicious recipe for breakfast:
Prepare oatmeal according to your package directions. When almost done add remaining ingredients. Top with walnuts or pecans for an extra hearty breakfast.Reference: Content from the article Healthier Halloween reposted with permission from www.freshbaby.com.
Think outside the box when choosing treats for the trick-or-treaters or party-goers. The calories in all those bite-size Halloween treats add up quickly. Four "bite size" chocolate bars contain approximately 320 calories, 25 jelly beans have 140 calories, and 20 pieces of candy corn add up to 100 calories.
Children will also enjoy non-food treats like the items typically given in birthday goodie bags:
Encourage kids to be more physically active by giving small, inexpensive toys to get them up and moving:
In today’s busy and fast moving economy, society has made tremendous changes in family dynamics. The roles of both mother and father are becoming equal and non-traditional. Fathers who are single parents and considered custodial caretakers are raising not just boys - but also girls overwhelmingly. These single fathers are raising 2.5 million children in the United States of America.
Fathers are now playing very critical and significant roles in child development and must become more involved and invested in quality nurturing time and aware of age appropriate behaviors. A father's pivotal and essential teaching and structured experiences will stay with his child for a lifetime and will surely determine his child's values and outlook for the future. Below are some suggestions and reasons why fathers should be involved in their children's lives:
Let’s a child know you love him.
Children who feel loved are more likely to develop a strong emotional bond with their father and a healthy self-esteem. Fathers who love their children demonstrate their love by spending quantity time together.
Provides your child with necessary emotional support.
Active fathers listen and support their children when they experience joy, sadness, anger, fear and frustration.
Enhances a child’s self-esteem.
Active fathers promote their children’s self-esteem by being fully involved in their lives and letting them know that they are highly valued.
Provides guidance and discipline.
From infancy, children need appropriate guidance and discipline.
Heightens your child’s intellectual development.
Children who are raised with actively involved fathers tend to score higher on measures of verbal and mathematical ability, and also demonstrate greater problem solving and social skills.
Provides your child with someone to talk to when she has questions.
Children's natural, curious minds help them learn about their environment. When presented with questions, fathers can provide their children with valuable insight and information and also take time to talk about everyday life.
Gives your child someone to play with.
According to researchers, there are qualitative differences in the way fathers and mothers play with their children.
Facilitates your child’s moral development.
Fathers, like mothers, help children to develop a sense of right and wrong that serves as a foundation for establishing moral character.
Helps children learn about the importance of life skills.
Fathers have a unique opportunity to teach their children valuable skills that will enable them to grow up to be healthy and productive adults.
Lowers your child’s chances for school failure and adult criminality.
Children with actively involved fathers are less likely to drop out of school or commit crimes as adults when raised with an active, caring and involved father.
References: Pew Research CenterUS Census BureauTexas A&M AgriLife Extension Service: 20 Reasons Why Your Child Needs You to Be an Active Father © 2013 All rights reservedNeither the LSU AgCenter nor the information, as it is presented on www.lsuagcenter.com, is endorsed by the state of Texas or any Texas state agency.
In the months of October and November, one thing is for certain - there is no shortage of delicious pumpkin treats available! Pumpkin spiced latte, pumpkin bread, pumpkin beer, and pumpkin pie are just a few of our most favorite and popular finds. But with all of the focus being on the pumpkin meat, where is the love for the seeds? If you, like many other pumpkin carvers, have been accidently tossing those pumpkin seeds every year, you have no idea what you’ve been missing!
Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, have been gracing the shelves of health food stores all over the U.S. - but why you may ask? They are incredibly nutrient dense and have a variety of health benefits to offer. They are very low in sodium and cholesterol and are a good source of protein, vitamin K, zinc, iron, and copper. Pepitas are also an excellent source of magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. In smaller amounts, you will find quite a few derivatives of vitamin E. So let’s talk about how these different components of the pumpkin seed can benefit our health:
Depending on the type of pumpkin you have purchased, your seeds could be shelled or unshelled. It is recommended that you remove the shell before consuming. To prepare your pumpkin seeds for roasting, you want to make sure you remove all remaining pumpkin from the seed. Next, you can lay them out on a flat, dry surface overnight. The next day, spread them out on a baking sheet and cook them for about 15-20 minutes at 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once you’ve roasted your pepitas, here are some of the exciting things you can do with them:
Now who’s ready for some pumpkin carving?
Resources: World’s Healthiest FoodsSelf Nutrition Data
Keeping children safe is a problem which is universal. All parents dread their child getting injured or hurt and want to keep them safe. When children are injured and harmed, the average parent does not cause the harm or injury. Child safety issues in America seem to be increasing due to inappropriate parenting and children living in poorer communities. Over 9 million children are treated for injuries in emergency rooms yearly. In America, many of our urban areas are filled with violence and shootings, causing accidental injuries and death. This is a great fear for many parents and a cause for concern on a daily basis. In addition to these accidental injuries, abuse and various forms of neglect cause additional injuries to children.
In 2012, there were 1,114,759 children living in Louisiana - 8,344 children were victims of abuse and neglect. Louisiana is ranked 50th among states in percent of babies born at low birth weight and 48th among states in its infant mortality rates. Seventy-eight children and teens were killed by firearms in homicides and 17 children and teens were killed by firearms in suicides.
Do safety checks around the house
Learn the characteristics of a good toy
First crawl checklist
Resources: Healthy Beginnings for Your BabyChildren’s Defense Fund
Grains form an important part of a healthy diet. Foods made from wheat, rice, oats, barley, corn meal or any other grain (like quinoa, rye, and sorghum) are grain products. Examples include bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal, hot or cold cereal, crackers, biscuits, tortillas, grits and granola. Grains are rich in carbohydrates which provide long lasting energy for sustenance and physical activity. The brain and muscles need glucose (obtained from carbohydrate digestion) to function, making grains a good choice to “power up” for the day. Grains are also naturally low in fat and are a good source of B vitamins and minerals like iron.
There are two forms of grains - whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains include the entire grain kernel - the bran (rich in fiber, B vitamins), the endosperm (rich in carbohydrates) and the germ (rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals). Refined grains like white flour are made from milling the entire kernel to strip off the coarse nutrient-filled bran and germ layers leaving the starchy endosperm. Refined grains are enriched by the addition of some B vitamins and iron during processing. Whole grains provide more nutrients than refined grains, so power up with whole grains - you get more “nutrient bang” for your buck.
People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet may have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases like heart disease. Fiber from whole grains and other sources helps to reduce the occurrence of constipation, promotes a healthy digestive system and also helps you manage your weight. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010) recommends making half your grains whole grains. Check out www.choosemyplate.gov to determine the number of ounces of grains needed daily and ounce-equivalents of grains.
Read the ingredient list and choose products that name a whole grain as the first ingredient: whole grain or 100% whole grain. Examples include whole wheat, whole grain oats, whole grain cornmeal, brown rice and wild rice. Terms like “stone-ground," “multi-grain," “cracked wheat," “seven-grain” or “bran” are not the same as 100% whole grain and may not contain any whole grain.
Grains from www.wholefoodsmarket.com www.choosemyplate.govwww.lsuagcenter.com
National Preparedness Month is observed each September in the United States. During this month, Americans are encouraged to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities.
In an emergency, most people experience stress. Generally, one focuses on meeting more basic needs over health and food variety. Eating healthy is the farthest thing on a person’s mind during an emergency. Many people grab the nearest non-perishable foods that are available, and they are not always the healthiest. However, if you plan ahead and effectively, you can have a great variety of foods and nutrients. Therefore, be prepared to eat healthy by following these three easy steps:
Choose foods that can be used up in one meal so there are not any leftovers.
Have two coolers readily available for when or if the electricity goes out. One cooler is for the items you want to keep long-term and the other is for the foods that are used most often.
Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are partially green and can last longer.
Instead of fatty and sugary foods, stock-up on healthy items with lengthy expiration dates. Examples include:
Storm time is not a time for leisure. Keep up with your regular meal time. Try eating foods from the different food groups, watch out for portion sizes, and drink lots of water and exercise. You do not need electricity to make healthy choices during the storm.
Tune in to the news to see just how severe the thunderstorm is predicted to be. Stay indoors away from windows and stay calm.
Resources:Be Ready! September is National Preparedness Month
Are you having problems working exercise into your day? Here are some things that you can do to make sure that you are getting at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Do as much as you can during the day because every little bit counts. Try to do 10 minutes at least three times a day. Identify times during the day when you can exercise. Try doing leg or arm exercises while sitting at work during your break or lunch. When at home, you could exercise by walking the dog around the neighborhood or during commercial breaks when watching television. Make a practice of parking farther away from the store on shopping trips.
Try to do some type of exercise before or after work or during the day.
Make sure you wear something comfortable and that your shoes are designed for walking or exercising. Wear comfortable socks that don’t irritate your skin or feet.
If the temperature is too hot or cold or it's rainy, find a place to walk inside such as a shopping mall or school gym.
Walking or using cans of food or water bottles for weights can be used to exercise.
Look for something you enjoy by trying different activities.
Look for indoor activities in your community center or church. Invite friends to exercise with you at home. Using a school track can also be helpful.Reference: Smart Choices: Eating and Exercising for Good Health (Adult Fact Sheet, Lesson 4)
Finally, fathers may be receiving the praise and recognition they deserve with less negativity. The U.S. Census Bureau reports 24 million children live in America. Nearly 13 million children live in single parent households, with 10.4 million children living with single mothers and 2.5 million children living with single fathers. It’s obvious there are father factors that plague children in America and worldwide. The roles of both parents have changed significantly in the last century but even more in the last decade. Mothers are spending time outside the home working, starting businesses and taking jobs which require traveling out of town and abroad. Fathers are now at home more, doing housework and providing care for their children. Fathers seem to be working less in what is known as traditional types of employment. Research indicates that both mothers and fathers wish they could spend more quality time with their children.
More challenges are faced by the single mother and single father. Each is forced to leave the child in childcare and may lack the finances to afford adequate care. Some single fathers may produce higher levels of income but their jobs may require more overtime and weekend work, necessitating after hours daycare and weekend babysitters. Fathers who make minimum wage may not be eligible for assistance from federal benefits which single mothers receive for housing and other various child welfare programs.
Widespread disagreement on what roles fathers should play continues to be socially debated. What research does indicate is there are negative results when fathers are absent from the home. Some consequences for the child due to the absence of a father or providing parenting include:
1. Children in father-absent homes are four times more likely to be poor.
2. Children in father-absent homes exhibit higher levels of aggressive behavior.
3. Infant morbidity rates are higher for the infant of an unmarried mother.
4. Adolescent boys and girls are at risk for dropping out of school.
5. Adolescent boys in single-parent homes are at higher risk of status and property delinquencies.
Single parents face stressors that are immense, but many of them at their best provide the role of both parents and do a fantastic job of nurturing, caring and providing appropriate parenting when given minimal support. The single parent ultimately realizes they can never replace the other parent. For this reason, the need and possible option may be to co-parent. Agreeing to work together for the sake of the child should be the priority. Co-parenting is proving to be very effective. Children, who have fathers to nurture and provide love, do better in all life experiences and are more capable of being successful and contributing to society.
More research is being done on single fathers and programs are becoming available. Many contributing factors such as poverty, lack of education, unemployment, substance abuse, mental illness and imprisonment indicate the need for help. With entitlement programs being eliminated, community groups, churches, organizations and even ex-offenders programs are finding resources and finances to assist fathers with parenting education and other skills needed to become a responsible parent. Research and data can’t substantiate why some children may be resilient and have great self-esteem in father-absent homes, but facts confirm that a father’s love can only enhance and enrich healthy child development.
References: U.S. Census BureauNational Fatherhood Initiative
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has been enjoyed as a grain-like crop by South Americans since 3000 BC - hence the reason it is commonly referred to as an “ancient grain." Even though we consider it to be part of the grain group with oats, barley, and wheat, it is actually in the Chenopodium family alongside spinach, beets, and Swiss chard. Quinoa is a hardy plant that can be grown in just about any environment and soil giving way to the red, orange, pink, purple, tan, and black varieties. Quinoa has been an integral part of the South American diet for thousands of years. That fact paired with the recent research studies indicating incredible health benefits with quinoa consumption led to the United Nations General Assembly declaration of 2013 being the “International Year of Quinoa.” Let’s take a closer look at some of those health benefits.
Quinoa is an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, vitamin E derivatives, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and antioxidants. So what does this translate to in terms of overall health?
Although it is technically a vegetable, it serves as an excellent grain substitute. It can be found at most local grocery stores or specialty health food stores. Here are some of the most common ways that quinoa can be incorporated into your daily diet:
To get you started off on the right foot, here is a great quinoa recipe that you can test out!
Recipe Yield: 6 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup
The World’s Healthiest Foods
Self Nutrition Data
SNAP-Ed Connection Recipe Finder
Did you know that fatigue is an epidemic? How can one get along on little sleep and rest? Studies indicate that 20% to 30% of most fatal traffic accidents involve fatigued drivers. However, what about kids? They don’t have to drive.“Why do they have to go to bed even when they are not tired?”Sleep is essential for a child’s emotional, physical, and academic well-being. Kids have busy days - they go to school, play with their friends, participate in sports, care for their pets, perform chores at home, and complete homework. By the end of the day, their bodies need a break. Sleep provides their bodies with the rest that is needed for the next day.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, kids aged 5-12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Children aged 10-18 need a little less. They are required to get 8-9 hours per night.
The harm caused by lack of sleep:
1. Lack of rest causes behavior problems. According to the National Institutes of Health, children who don’t get enough sleep exhibit symptoms of ADHD. They become disagreeable, excitable, and hyperactive. They tend to engage in extreme behaviors like tantrums or aggression. They have problems focusing, and this affects their ability to learn. Not enough hours of rest causes crankiness, mood swings, tiredness, or frustration. 2. Research shows that not enough sleep affects proper growth. Growth hormone is generally released during sleep. However, not getting enough sleep causes this hormone to be suppressed.
3. Studies indicate that insufficient sleep can lead to diabetes and obesity. The main reason is due to hormone imbalance. When the hormones are imbalanced, a person tends to overeat and ends up choosing unhealthy foods. Children with insufficient sleep spend a large number of hours surfing the web and watching TV while eating.
The signs associated with lack of sleep:
1. Recurrently falling asleep in the car or on a chair.
2. Requiring stimulants, coffee, soda or chocolate to get going in the morning or keep going throughout the day.
3. Behaving abnormally such as becoming easily frustrated or easily losing temper.
4. Recurring need for an afternoon nap.
Sleep is equally important when compared to good nutrition and exercise. It is one of the building blocks to good health.
Back to school time brings the smell of new uniforms and shoes along with newly sharpened pencils, fresh crayons and flowing dollar bills! Now is the time to create a back to school budget.
Before school begins, families are busy buying new clothes, shoes, book bags, and school supplies. Once classes begin, even more expenses appear: supply fees, school lunches, after-school snacks, fees for extracurricular activities – the list goes on and on.
All of these expenses are child-directed. What a great time to help your child learn to shop and use items wisely.
Obtain the supply list from your child’s school. Begin checking newspaper ads for school supply sales. These usually begin to appear in the Sunday papers during the third or fourth week of July. Sit with your child and use the supply list as a guide to separate what your child needs and what your child wants. This is a great time to help children learn to make decisions relating to money management.
Children may obtain money from gifts, allowances, or earnings and should be taught money management at an early age. Allowances provide hands-on experience with managing money. Earnings may be generated at home for extra work done around the house. The amount received for various tasks should be agreed upon by the parents and the child.
Children can plan their spending and learn to set some money aside for future use. Help children set up a budget and a spending plan. Encourage your child to keep records of all earnings, spending and savings. Recommend that a portion of money be set aside for future needs; the use of the remaining money should be discussed between parent and child.
You may decide to let your child be responsible for one or two items on the school supply list and an item that he or she wants but is not on the “must have” list. When a child purchases an item with his or her own money that child usually takes better care of the item.
Practice these smart shopping skills as you ready your children for a great school year!
References: Back-to-school shopping on a budgetTeach Budgeting When Making School Shopping List
Keep your family safe this summer, and all year long, from foodborne illness by following the food safety recommendations below:Microwave Musts
Always remember to cover your food when microwaving for safety. Food cooked in the microwave must be turned or rotated during the cooking process.
Boil and Bubble
When reheating foods with sauces, gravy or soups, bring to a boil for at least a minute to kill the bacteria.
It is recommended that when defrosting frozen meats, poultry or seafood, place in the refrigerator and not on the counter. Placing on the counter at room temperature is ideal for bacterial growth. Frozen foods can be defrosted in cold water if you are in a hurry to cook food. However, the water should be changed often to make sure that it remains cold. Using the microwave is also a good way to defrost food, but it should be cooked immediately after defrosting.
Never half cook below 140 degrees because this is when bacteria grow. Always make sure that food is cooked above 145 degrees to kill all forms of bacteria. If cooking food on the burner first and then transferring to a grill, do it immediately so that bacteria will not grow on the food. Remember - danger zone is 40 degrees to 140 degrees.
Throwing Away Old Food
A good way to avoid food poisoning is to clean the refrigerator and throw away food once a week. Wash the refrigerator with hot water and soap to kill any bacteria that may have formed in the refrigerator or on the shelves in the refrigerator.
Serving Food at a Picnic
Keep in mind the following tips when serving food at a picnic:
Resource: Smart Choices Lesson 12 Adult Fact Sheet 2
Ever since I was a kid, summertime has always been my favorite time of the year. To me it means warm weather, hanging out at the pool with my friends, going on family bike rides, vacationing at the beach, and indulging in sweet summer treats. One of my fondest memories as a kid is making homemade fruit popsicles at home with my mom and little brother. It is incredibly easy to do, makes a fun activity for all, and results in a delicious, cool snack. Here are a couple of great cool snacks to help beat the heat!
Recipe Yield: 4 frozen pops
Serving Size: 1 frozen pop
Recipe Yield: 13.5 servings
Serving Size: 1 bar
Regardless of which treat you choose, both will keep you cool, have vitamins and minerals, and are under 180 calories per serving. Enjoy!
The way the body responds to summer heat can cause serious health problems for the aging population. Hyperthermia is an abnormally high body temperature caused by the body’s failure to naturally regulate extreme heat coming from the environment.
Heat cramps - painful tightening of muscles in the stomach area, arms, or legs. They can result from over activity or exercise. While the body temperature and pulse usually remain normal, the skin may feel moist and cool. If these symptoms occur find a way to cool down and drink plenty of water. Contact your doctor if the symptoms do not subside quickly.
Heat edema - the swelling of ankles and feet during hot weather. Propping legs up often helps. If not, check with a doctor.
Heat syncope - sudden dizziness that occurs when one is active during very hot weather. Prescribed heart medications known as beta blockers may cause one to feel faint or dizzy. Rest in a cool place and prop your feet up to recover.
Heat exhaustion - is a warning that the body can no longer keep itself cool. One may feel thirsty, dizzy, weak, uncoordinated, nauseated, and may sweat profusely. The body temperature stays normal but the skin feels cold and clammy. The pulse rate can either remain normal or can be raised. Rest in a cool place, drink plenty of fluids and get medical care if the symptoms do not go away. Left unattended, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke.
Heat stroke - is an emergency and can be life threatening. Get medical attention immediately. If transportation is an issue, call 911 and get in a cool place until help arrives. Older individuals living in residences without air conditioning or good air flow are at most risk. So are individuals who don’t drink enough water, suffer with chronic diseases or alcoholism.
If you or a loved one experience signs of these or other illnesses, contact your medical provider immediately.
Summer is here. We now have longer days and warmer weather. What a perfect time to lighten up your diet. Time to pick up more foods that make your body feel great and put down the things that are not so good.
Summer is the time to do away with the heavy stews, soups and casseroles. Start taking advantage of the seasonal summer foods, fruits and vegetables. Not only do they deliver the best flavors, but they are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fresh fruits and vegetables can also provide the energy to fuel your days without saturated fats, sodium, or sugar. More importantly, they are more abundant in summer - therefore the cost is less.
Watermelon is a favorite summertime fruit that is fat free and very low in calories - so you don’t have to worry about bulging out of your bikini when indulging. This feel good fruit is also packed full of nutrients, including lycopene (which contributes to Vitamin A), Vitamin A for eye health, Vitamin C and Vitamin B6 to support immunity, and the amino acid citrulline which supports heart health. Watermelon is extremely versatile and can be found in many different cuisines worldwide. Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy this refreshing fruit:
Or simply enjoy it fresh!
Laissez les bon temps rouler and eat watermelon every day! For more refreshing watermelon recipes, visit www.watermelon.org/recipes.
Summer is approaching fast and vacation time is right around the corner. Eating out of the home will be on the rise and is done by more than half the population of this country. Making wise choices while on vacation is something that everyone should consider to have and maintain a healthy lifestyle and be successful. Here are a few tips to follow when eating out on vacation:
Remember, just because it is vacation time doesn’t mean that good tasting food is off limits. Instead, focus on limiting the amount of calories consumed for health purposes.So, let’s eat healthy and enjoy our vacation in the sun and have some fun!Reference: Smart Portions - A Healthy Weight Program
Harvest time for some spring fruits and vegetables is upon us! Whether you have grown your very own edible garden or you frequent the local farmers' market, watermelons, cucumbers, squash, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, beets, and some herbs are in season and ready to be incorporated into your family’s summer food plan. All fruits and vegetables have a high water content which can aid you in staying hydrated during these hot summer months. In addition to this, fruits and vegetables contain important vitamins and minerals that are necessary for proper body functioning, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding chronic disease. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be utilized in many forms and fashions including:
Here is a great kid-friendly, cost-efficient summer idea that incorporates quite a few in season items and is sure to get you pumped about summer fruit and veggie consumption!
Recipe Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: ½ tortilla each
Directions: 1. In a small bowl, stir ranch seasoning into cream cheese, chill.2. Wash and chop vegetables.3. Steam broccoli in microwave for 1 minute with 1 tablespoon of water.4. Spread cream cheese onto flour tortilla, staying one inch from edge. Sprinkle vegetables over cream cheese. Roll tortilla tightly.5. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving (the wrap will hold its shape better). With a sharp knife slice into circles and serve.
SNAP-Ed. Connection Recipe Finder
Summertime brings a welcome break from homework, tests and strict schedules while introducing other challenges including feeding and keeping children active. Three meals and ample snacks can drain the food budget quickly. Avoid waste using leftovers for work lunches. The summer goal should be to provide healthy meals and snacks that include more fruits and vegetables and less fat, salt and sugar. Healthy foods can easily be kid-friendly when you provide healthy ingredients and let children help with preparation based on their age and skills.
Children will try new foods if they help prepare them. Invite the children to make their own granola using ready-to-eat cereal, dried fruits and nuts. Place in snack bags and allow children to help themselves. Grapes, berries, melons and cubed cheese make tasty and colorful kabobs. Peanut butter spread on sliced apples or bananas is a very nutritious and filling snack. Consider freezing grapes and bananas for a real cool treat!
Add calcium to the diet by topping low-fat yogurt with crunchy granola and blueberries. Or make a smoothie by blending low-fat yogurt, strawberries and a banana together. Freeze in serving sized plastic cups for a ready to eat snack.
Whip up a quick dip for veggies with yogurt and seasoning such as herbs or garlic. Serve with raw carrots, celery, cucumber slices, bell pepper, summer squash, spinach leaves, cauliflower or broccoli.
Limit the amount of added sugar children consume. Don’t buy sugary snacks such as sodas, sports and energy drinks, juice, cakes, cookies, and candy. Sweet treats and drinks have many calories and few nutrients. Offer healthy foods, water, 100% fruit juices or fat-free milk instead.
Limit television and computer time to no more than two hours a day. Encourage physical activity including walking, running, biking, swimming, and sports. Set an example by being physically active and using appropriate safety gear. Involve the family in evening walks, bike rides, or simple games of pitch and catch. This is an opportunity to build family bonds while exercising, communicating, and enjoying each other’s company.
Enjoy the summer - school days will be here before you know it!
It’s time for children to get out of school for the summer and they will be looking for fun activities and refreshing snacks to beat the hot summer days. But before you fill up the cookie jar, you may want to consider your snack options. It is important to understand the difference between “anytime” snacks and “sometime” snacks. Anytime snacks, such as fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods, are healthy snacks packed with nutrients and low in calories and can be enjoyed anytime. Whereas sometime snacks, such as candy, cake, pies and chips, would be considered snacks you should only eat occasionally. And remember, sometime snacks are often processed foods which are filled with fat, salt, and sugars, so instead, consider more simple snacks. Making homemade healthy pops is a great way to turn anytime snacks into refreshing yet healthy summer snacks. They are fun to make and delicious to eat!
Use some of the foods you have on hand, blend, pour into popsicle molds and freeze. Here are a few quick and simple ideas for making healthy pops at home:
-Use low-fat or fat-free milk to make your favorite flavor pudding (chocolate, vanilla, banana) and freeze.
-Frozen yogurt pops.
-100% juice (pineapple, orange, grape, or combine a few flavors).
-Smoothie pops: Use your favorite fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt.
-Frozen banana pops (banana on a stick): Before freezing, roll banana in low calorie chocolate syrup, nuts, or peanut butter. Then push the stick into the banana, lay the banana pop on wax or parchment paper and freeze.
-The possibilities are endless – just like our Louisiana summers!
-Use low-fat or fat-free milk to make your favorite flavor pudding (chocolate, vanilla, banana) and freeze.
-Frozen yogurt pops.
-100% juice (pineapple, orange, grape, or combine a few flavors).
-Smoothie pops: Use your favorite fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt.
-Frozen banana pops (banana on a stick): Before freezing, roll banana in low calorie chocolate syrup, nuts, or peanut butter. Then push the stick into the banana, lay the banana pop on wax or parchment paper and freeze.
-The possibilities are endless – just like our Louisiana summers!
Just a little prep in advance will provide you with a tasty anytime treat and prevent you from grabbing a quick calorie-dense snack.
Adopting the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Studying Hypertension) eating plan is easy for beginners. Here are some tips on getting started the healthy way:
First, there must be a gradual change in eating habits.
Second, meat should be one part of the meal instead of the focus.
Third, when eating desserts and snacks, eat more fruits or low-fat foods.
Reference: Smart Choices Lesson 5: Adult Fact Sheet 6, www.lsuagcenter.com
With swimsuit season rapidly approaching, who wouldn’t want to look their best while gallivanting on the beach with family and friends! Luckily, the Choose MyPlate SuperTracker website can aid you in becoming the healthiest and most in shape you that you can be. There are six different online tools including Food-A-Pedia, the Food Tracker, the Physical Activity Tracker, My Weight Manager, My Top 5 Goals, and My Reports. Let’s take a closer look at each:
This tool allows you to compare nutritional information for two foods side by side from a database of over 8,000 food choices. Food-A-Pedia can be great for comparing two snacks side by side. For example, I’d like to compare an apple and a bag of potato chips for my afternoon snack. Right off the bat, I can see a complete nutritional breakdown for each product and am able to make an informed decision. The apple has 72 calories, 0 g fat, 3 g fiber, and 1 mg sodium; whereas, the potato chips are 152 calories, contain 10g of fat (1 g saturated fat), only 1 g fiber, and 147 mg sodium. It appears to me that the apple will be my most nutritious option.
Ever wondered how that triple fudge sundae factored into your daily food allowance? Well, this is the perfect tool to use. The Food Tracker allows you to enter in your entire food plan for the day and it will give you a relatively accurate idea of how well you did in accordance with your target goals. Once you have entered in your personalized information, such as your height, weight, and age, the system will calculate your recommended calorie needs per day and can assist you in planning your daily food plan around that. It will let you know what food groups need to be increased and decreased in the diet and how many calories are allocated for each food item. The Food Tracker is a great starting place for becoming the healthiest you possible!
From sewing to weight lifting to water aerobics, physical activity can come in many different forms. I particularly like this tool because it stresses the fact that physical activity is defined as bodily movement that expends energy which includes a lot more than most people would think. This allows you to successfully track your calories and minutes of physical activity in the form that you most desire. So let’s get creative and get moving in some way, shape, or form!
As you start to feel healthier and look more fit using these great resources, what better way to track your success than the Weight Manager! After you’ve entered your personalized information, you have the option to set a weight goal for yourself and your progress will be tracked with the Weight Manager chart. You can also access your caloric and physical activity history just to see how much of a change you’ve really accomplished. Quick and easy motivation!
In order to achieve goals, you have to set them first. My Top 5 Goals allows you to set goals in the categories of Weight Management, Physical Activity, Calories, Food Groups, and Nutrients. The best part about this portion is that you can have a health coach give you updates on your progress towards your goals and/or send you motivational messages to keep you on track.
In the My Reports section, you are able to view your trends over time in 6 different categories: Food Groups and Calories, Nutrients, Food Details, Meal Summary, Physical Activity, and History Charts. Viewing your trends could give you a good idea of where you stand, how close you are to accomplishing your goals, and what needs to be tweaked for success. It is not if you will achieve your goals and the healthiest you - but when. Let’s start SuperTracking today!
All of these excellent SuperTracker tools can be found here.
Wishing you the best of success and health for the 2013 summer season!Resource:www.supertracker.usda.gov/
Do you ever misplace your keys or forget the name of an acquaintance or an important phone number? Memory loss is not an inevitable part of aging. Memory lapses can be frustrating but most of the time they are not cause for concern. There are some tips that we all can adopt to help keep our mind and body healthy and strong.
Work crossword puzzles, read a section of the newspaper you usually skip, take alternate routes when driving, volunteer, play games with grandchildren and friends, consider writing down memories of your childhood and early adult life to share with family, garden, or learn a new language. Try something new and commit to lifelong learning.
Keep your memory sharp with 30 minutes of brisk walking a day. Exercise increases the blood flow to your entire body. Walking, dancing, bicycling, gardening, tai chi, yoga and other similar activities get your body moving and your heart pumping blood to the brain.
Social interactions with others tend to limit depression and stress and lead to brain health. Volunteer in community groups and causes, stay active in the workplace, participate in cultural activities, and spend time with fun, playful friends and laugh.
Use a daily calendar - make notes relating to appointments, tasks to be completed, birthdays, and anniversaries; have a designated place for items that are often misplaced such as keys, your purse, etc.; focus by limiting distractions, retracing your steps and making connections.
Visit your doctor regularly, take prescribed medications as directed, and note and report any side effects to your doctor immediately. Some medications affect memory. Your doctor may be able to prescribe another medicine without the side effects.
References: Harvard Health Publication: Seven Ways to Keep Your Memory Sharp at any AgeMayo Clinic.Com: 7 Tips to Improve Your MemoryAlzheimer’s.org: Brain Health
Each year my family hosts an annual Easter egg pocking contest. There are no prizes for the strongest egg, but the fun of being together and the competitiveness of the contest far outweigh any tangible award. For those of you who do not know what I’m talking about, egg pocking is simply just a contest to see who has the strongest egg; “pocking” is the noise which results from tapping the eggs together. Each person selects a prized egg and holds it in their hand. Next, one person strategically tries to crack or “pock” the other person’s egg without breaking their own egg. (Tip: pock from the top or the bottom of the egg.) The person whose egg does not crack goes on to the next round and so on until all the eggs have been pocked. But, before you begin your own annual Easter egg pocking contest, there are a few rules you should follow to make sure your eggs will be safe to eat. No one wants to suffer from foodborne illness, especially during the holidays. The most effective way to prevent salmonella (the bacteria which causes illness) from spreading is to properly purchase, store, handle and cook the eggs. Here are a few tips:
And remember – when in doubt, throw it out!
Have you ever entered the grocery store famished and felt the urge to purchase everything in sight? Certainly, failure to eat prior to your shopping trip could trigger the hunger and buying spurt. Planning ahead before shopping is vital when trying to control impulse buying, which can become very risky. Ultimately, you could resort to purchasing food that you had no intention of buying.
Smart shopping tips can help to alleviate impulse buying. They can also help you to “take control” of your food dollars. Here are a few family cost saving food rules to consider when shopping:
References: www.choosemyplate.govSmart Choices Adults - Thrifty Food Rules
Is there a difference between cleaning and sanitizing? Definitely! Cleaning is removing dirt while sanitizing is reducing the microorganisms to a safe level. Cleaning and sanitizing is the first line defense against the spread of food borne illnesses. Before preparing or handling food, wash hands properly. Wet hands, add soap, and rub hands together washing in between fingers and nails. Rinse and dry with paper towels. If possible, wash utensils in the dishwasher. If utensils must be hand washed, use hot soapy water and rinse well.
Wash towels, dishcloths, and sponges daily in the hot cycle of the washing machine. Damp towels and sponges are breeding grounds for bacteria. Disinfect sponges in a bleach and water solution and replace sponges frequently.
Clean spills on appliances right away including liquids from open meat packages. Clean splatters inside the microwave oven. Wash surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water or a bleach-chlorine solution and rinse well. Clean and sanitize the refrigerator and freezer shelves, sides, doors, knobs, handles and food compartments. Use a bleach and water solution to remove the mold from the rubber casing of the refrigerator and freezer. Wipe the outside of the appliances with a soft cloth and mild dishwashing detergent.
Prevent cross contamination by selecting cutting boards that are easy to clean. Consider the acrylic, plastic or marble cutting boards. Refrain from using soft, porous wooden boards. Use separate cutting boards for fresh fruits and vegetables, and raw meat, poultry and fish. Wash with hot soapy water after each use.
Unless utensils are cleaned well in between uses, avoid using the same knife to slice meat and chop vegetables. Resist tasting with the spoon used for stirring.
If there is an open cut or wound wear latex gloves when handling food. Open food bags with clean scissors or clean knives.
Clean by washing hands and surfaces often. Separate to prevent cross contamination. Cook to the proper temperatures for each food. Chill promptly to the desired temperature of 40 degrees or below.
Cleanliness is the key to health!Resource:www.foodsafety.gov
Did you know that March is Health Awareness Month?
During the month of March there are many events to create awareness for health issues. The focus is to improve and save lives. Such events include: Sleep Awareness Week, National Salt Awareness Week, National Poison Prevention Week, No Smoking Day, World TB Day, and Diabetes Alert Day. These events oftentimes encourage preventative action against conditions becoming more serious.
This is the 4th Tuesday in March known as the one day “Wake-Up-Call." American Diabetes Alert Day is the day dedicated to the prevention and cure of diabetes. Did you know that diabetes is a serious disease that affects nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States alone? Most importantly, twenty-five percent are not aware that they actually have the disease. Many people are diagnosed with the disease seven to ten years after the onset of the disease or after major complications due to their illness. However, there is good news!
1. Control your weight - Reach and maintain a reasonable weight.
2. Get Moving - Turn off the TV and get into the exercise groove for a minimum of 60 minutes a day for children and a minimum of 30 minutes a day for adults.
3. Tune-up you diet - Make wise food choices. Reduce fats and calories.
4. Quit smoking - If you cannot quit at once, gradually reduce the number of cigarettes per day until you are able to quit.
5. Limit alcohol.
These few small steps can lead to big rewards.
Get ready, set, and March!
Forget the store bought beets in a can and try eating them fresh from the garden. Processed beets can’t compare to the amazingly sweet taste of fresh beets - especially when you roast them. Roasting vegetables in the oven brings out their natural sweetness and gives them a unique flavor. If you prefer a more savory taste, just add your favorite herbs and spices. If you are looking for a crispy snack, try this quick and easy baked beet chip recipe:
You will need:
Pre-heat a conventional oven or toaster oven to 350˚.Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with olive oil. If you do not have a Misto, a pressurized can that you add olive oil to, then either brush the oil on with a pastry brush or pour oil onto a paper towel and rub over the foil. Next, wash and peel your beets, then thinly slice. Toss the beets in olive oil and sprinkle with just a little salt. Place the beets flat onto the baking sheet making certain not to let them overlap. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. The thicker you cut the vegetable the longer it may need to bake. Enjoy!
February is American Heart Month and also the month of Valentine’s Day. The best Valentine’s Day gift we can receive is a healthy heart for ourselves and our love ones. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for persons living in the United States.
Our focus should be on our heart and making it strong and healthy. In order to do this, we need to exercise, eat healthy and manage our daily stress. Managing stress is a big one, because if we eat healthy, which is good, but experience stress all the time, which is bad, this can lead to hypertension which puts a strain on our hearts and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Regular exercise: Engage in any type of regular exercise at least three to four times a week. It releases and relaxes your body and controls your stress level.
Fruits and vegetables: Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables and limit things such as red meat. Visit your farmer’s market or fruit stands for fresh produce.
Meditate: Sit still for 30 minutes and give your brain a rest from all types of distraction such as TV, smartphones, computers, iPods, etc. Sometimes our brains need to focus on our bodies and what’s going on in our bodies without outside distractions. Try it - it works.
Annual physical: Visit your doctor at least once a year and have your heart and body checked out. It’s better to visit the doctor annually than to wait until something happens and it’s too late. You and your body are worth it.
Eliminate bad habits: There are some bad habits that create heart problems such as smoking, consuming red meat and stress. Remember, you are priceless and you deserve to treat yourself like you are priceless. Other things that take a toll on the heart include anger, jealousy or hatred. Sometimes we have these emotions and don’t realize it.
Forgive: Be the bigger person and forgive. It gives you peace and enjoyment in life. Your heart will thank you.
Express yourself: Release your emotional stress by expressing yourself in a respectable manner. Holding things in is not good.
Avoid taking things personally: We have no control over what others say or believe about us. We only have control over ourselves.
As stated earlier, let’s take a moment every day to appreciate, love and focus on us. We deserve it; our hearts deserve it.
Resources: American Heart AssociationCharlestownPatch, Permission granted by Karen Fabian to repost information from her article Heart-Healthy Tips for February.
It’s mid-February and by now you should have your diet/exercise regimen down to a workable plan or maybe you’ve decided “it’s just not working” for you. If you’ve decided it’s just not working for you, then a Fresh Start is just what you need. Let’s get started with the following:
An optimistic attitude - Now what does that mean? Expect challenges and even realize there may be days when you just overindulge, but know it's ok to get back on track and keep moving forward with anticipation of growth rather than a setback.Use the SuperTracker - The SuperTracker is an online tool designed to help you develop a nutrition and activity plan that can be tailored to your specific needs. Oh, did I mention it’s free and easy to use?
Setting realistic goals - Maybe your New Year’s goal was to lose a certain amount of weight or start exercising. Whatever your New Year’s goal may have been, stop, breathe and relax. You can start fresh with (3) new personal goals. Remember to take small steps.
A friend/buddy - Getting a friend/buddy involved with your goals could help to increase your success and accountability. Make certain to introduce your friend to the SuperTracker, and team up together.
MyPlate - MyPlate is another great tool that can be used in conjunction with the SuperTracker. MyPlate can help you to plan menus centered on the five food groups. It can also provide you with tips for increasing your daily intake of each food group and you can learn the benefits of each food group. The MyPlate design can even prompt you to think of ways to create a variety of great plates. Take the challenge and visit the website at www.choosemyplate.gov and learn all about it.
If you take these steps to make a fresh start you’ll certainly gain great rewards - a healthier you!
With cardiovascular disease being the #1 cause of death and stroke the #4 cause of death in the United States, it is important that you know the warning signs so you can respond quickly.
Heart attacks and strokes are life and death emergencies- every second counts.
Since most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain, or discomfort, you should become familiar with the heart attack warning signs:
The most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. Women are more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
The American Stroke Association has launched a new campaign to help people remember the sudden signs and symptoms of a stroke. It’s F.A.S.T.
Face Drooping - Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?Arm Weakness - Is one arm weak or numb?Speech Difficulty - Is speech slurred?Time to call 911 - If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Other symptoms you should also familiarize yourself with:
If you see or have any of the listed symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1. Be aware that not all these signs occur in every heart attack or stroke. Don’t delay - get help right away! Seconds and minutes matter! Fast action can save lives - maybe your own.
It’s important to remember that all vegetables are good for you and that you should consume a variety of them each day.
Sources: American Heart Association and LSU AgCenter & SU Ag Center Nutrition News
Not feeling so nuts about nuts? Maybe you just haven’t yet found the right nut for you! There are a variety of different types of nuts to choose from including:-Almonds-Cashews-Hazelnuts-Pine nuts-Brazil nuts-Chestnuts-Macadamia nuts-Pecans-Pistachios-Walnuts
While peanuts are generally considered nuts, they are actually legumes meaning that they are in the same family as beans and peas. Each of these nuts is created differently and has a different nutrient breakdown, taste, texture, and even calorie count. Copious amounts of research has been conducted on nuts and here are some of the findings:
-Contain high quantities of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for heart health-May help to lower cholesterol-May help to lower cardiovascular disease risk-Rich in vitamin E for healthy skin cells-May lower the risk of developing cancer-May lower the risk of developing hypertension-Rich in B vitamins for optimal health and well-being-Rich in minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and iron, which can help improve body functioning
In addition to these incredible health benefits, nuts are known as nature’s original fast food:
-Have a very long shelf life-Can provide a healthy protein substitute for fatty meats-One handful makes a very satiating snack-Can be taken anywhere-Require zero preparation time
So how can nuts be incorporated into your daily eating? Here are some ideas:
-Plain, salted, sugared, etc.-Sprinkled on top of desserts such as frozen yogurt and ice cream-Added to salads-Baked into biscuits, cakes, breads, etc.-Blended into a nut butter like almond butter, cashew butter, and peanut butter-Any way that your heart desires!
USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Nuts nutrition facts from www.nutrition-and-you.comHarvard Health Publications, Eating Nuts Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Screening tests can find diseases early, when they’re easiest to treat. Talk to your doctor about which men's preventive medical tests you need to stay healthy. Routine doctor appointments also may save your life down the road. Isn’t your health worth it?
Your Number:When: Know your number. Check regularly with higher risk.Recommendation for Men: Body mass index, or BMI, is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. It is used to screen for obesity. You can calculate your BMI here. BMI Categories: Underweight = BMI less than 18.5; Normal weight = 18.5-24.9; Overweight = 25-29.9; Obesity = 30 or greater. The higher your BMI, the greater the risk of some diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, sleep apnea, and stroke.
Your Numbers:When: Age 20Recommendation for Men: The American Heart Association recommends a cholesterol check at age 20 and then every five years after that. With risk factors like diabetes, history of heart disease, tobacco use, high blood pressure or a BMI of 30 or more, have cholesterol checked regularly. High blood cholesterol is a major preventable risk factor for heart disease.
Your Numbers:When: Every two years for adultsRecommendation for Men: Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80, and high blood pressure is considered to start at 140/90. High blood pressure increases heart attacks, strokes, erectile dysfunction and kidney disease. Controlling your blood pressure may prevent these diseases. This test usually is done at an annual physical exam.
Your Numbers:When: Ages 45-79Recommendation for Men: The No. 1 killer of men is cardiovascular disease, mostly heart attacks and strokes. Most heart attacks are caused by a blood clot blocking a coronary artery so the heart is starved of oxygen and heart cells die. The cause of heart attacks is not always known. Know your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar numbers. From ages 45 through 79, ask your doctor if taking aspirin would lower your risk of a heart attack. Quitting smoking, eating right and exercising also reduce risks.
When: Ages 50-75Recommendation for Men: The Centers for Disease Control report 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone was screened and cancer, if found, was treated. People at higher risk may need screening before age 50. Those include people who have a close relative who had colorectal polyps or cancer or who have inflammatory bowel disease.
When: Every two to four years before age 40, every one to three years ages 40-54, every one to two years ages 55-64, and every six to twelve months age 65 and older.Recommendation for Men: Eye tests for glaucoma depend on age and personal risk. Check with your doctor about earlier, more frequent screening, or if you fall into a high risk group, such as African-Americans, people with a family history of glaucoma, those with an earlier eye injury or those who use steroid medications.
When: Look for changes in moles.Recommendation for Men: Doctors look for moles with unusual characteristics while doing routine and annual physical exams. The American Academy of Dermatologists suggests a monthly self-exam to look for irregular moles.
When: If exposed to risky behavior.Recommendation for Men: Check with your doctor regarding your specific risks and possible need for a screening test.
When: Any age.Recommendation for Men: If you have felt "down" or hopeless during the past two weeks or you had little interest in doing things you usually enjoy, talk to your doctor about depression. Depression is a treatable illness.
When: Smokers between ages of 65 and 75Recommendation for Men: If you are between ages 65 and 75 and have smoked 100 or more cigarettes in your lifetime, ask your doctor to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This is a large or swollen blood vessel in the stomach that can burst without warning.
Your Numbers:When: AdultsRecommendation for Men: Usually done at an annual exam. Diabetes can lead to problems with the heart, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves and other organs. Screening suggested for those with blood pressure higher than 135/80, who have high cholesterol, who have family history of diabetes or who are overweight.
When: AdultRecommendation for Men: If you smoke or use tobacco, talk to your doctor about quitting. For tips on how to quit, go to www.smokefree.gov or call National Quitline at 800-QUITNOW. For Louisiana residents ages 34 and older, information on getting free medication to help you quit smoking can be found by visiting www.smokingcessationtrust.org.
Dates:When: VariesRecommendation for Men: For men over 50, a tetanus booster is recommended every 10 years. Flu shots are suggested every year for this age group. And a pneumococcal vaccine is recommended once at age 65.Prepared by: Annrose Guarino, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., State Specialist (Urban Health)Sources:Louisiana Department of Health and HospitalsRecommendations from evidence-based guidelines of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, CDCWebMD: Men’s Health Tune-Up Schedule: Medical TestsCancer Association of Greater New Orleans (CAGNO), Executive Director, Tammy Swindle, email@example.comNational Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
When looking for information to help simplify our lives, we often run into titles like Get More Done and 100 Things To Do: To Simplify Your Life. Yikes, how can being told to get more done or adding more things to do make life simple? After all, simplifying life means doing less - not more.
Simplifying life is about streamlining our lives, eliminating what we can and enjoying what we do. Here are a few suggestions - not orders or rules to follow - just ideas to ease the load:
Some questions to explore:
Writing about our lives can help reveal the snarls and the solutions to a hectic schedule. For example, mornings are crazy because we are all too hurried. Okay, what can we change? If the changes involve others, include them in a discussion. Look for unlikely solutions, not the simple ones like getting up earlier, unless everyone likes that idea. Look at what’s working and why after school or work, things run smoothly for about an hour. Why is that - is it because everyone is unwinding, doing the things they like to do? So how can we make the morning more about doing the things we like to do? This might sound absurd or too simple for some super busy families. That is a good clue that it is time to do an inventory of what’s really important. What can stay and what can go?Most people consider relationships the most important aspect of their lives. In that case, we need to focus more on our relationships and connections instead of our “To Do” lists.
If we look at our day and we see more items that are “have to” and “should” than “want to” and “could,” then ask why is that? If we are truthful, there are not many things that we have to do because we have choices. It feels better to say, “I choose to drive my daughter to cross country practice,” than “I have to drive her.” If driving her to practice doesn’t work, then look for a creative solution that does work.
With various holidays, family life can get really busy. It is an excellent time to be more aware of the “could of-would of-should of” words that run through our minds. When we hear these words, it is time to regroup and remind ourselves that we have choices. We can choose what to do and where to go - joyfully - and transform our family life!
Source: Simplifying Family Life by Tracy Liebmann, Natural Awakenings, August, 2012.
Mardi Gras is filled with music, parades, fun, laughter, and as we all know good southern style cooking. Let’s be honest - dieting is extremely hard during this time in Louisiana! Here are five tips to use when maintaining healthy lifestyle practices for the holidays:
1. Control portions. Try applying smaller portions on your plate. Most of the time when you dine in at a restaurant your plate is filled with the appropriate foods, but it’s actually more than what you asked for and what you really need. Eat only what you are hungry for, don’t eat everything on your plate just because it’s there. And try to avoid calorie-heavy foods like gravies and desserts. Another aspect of control portions that is very important is applying the proper portions to your plate and not snacking on foods from a wrapper or bag. It's hard to keep track of how much food you're eating when you nibble without using a plate. Serving meals and snacks on a plate will help you avoid the mindless hand-to-mouth munching that can add lots of extra calories.
2. Enjoy soup or a salad before going to a party. There are studies that have proven that a first course consisting of a large green salad with a light dressing, or a bowl of broth-based vegetable soup, can reduce the total calories you eat during a meal. These super-nutritious foods take the edge off your appetite so you don't arrive starving and dive into your main course meal.
3. Keep moving. Exercise is even more important for maintaining weight loss than for taking off the pounds in the first place. During the Mardi Gras parades, instead of staying in one spot throughout the entire parade, try moving around and visit a few stores or meet new people. Keep in mind that something is better than nothing. Do whatever you can to squeeze an activity in throughout the day.
4. Avoid fried foods. Please try to avoid all fried foods and dishes! There are plenty of dishes you can indulge in instead of ordering a fried catfish dinner and a side order of French fries. Maybe you can order the same meal and instead of ordering fried change it to grilled. That way you are not consuming more calories than you truly asked for.
5. Savor every bite. And the most important thing you want to do is enjoy yourself. Sit down, relax, and enjoy every bite of your meal. Take your time and savor the flavors, textures, and aroma of each food. Eating slowly will help you enjoy the meal and will give your brain time to receive the signal that your stomach is happily full.
This Mardi Gras season let’s have fun and stay healthy at the same time. If we can follow these five tips we can have a guilt-free enjoyment and as we say, “laissez les bons temps rouler” - let the good times roll!
Every year is the same old story, I want to lose the weight I gained during the holidays. Well, let’s get started.
1. Get to Steppin: Start by adding more steps to your daily walking routine. Stop parking in the closest park spot. Stop using the elevator and use the stairs. During the summer months, walk to the corner store instead of driving.
2. Home Cooked Meals: Eat out a lot? Well, not only is that expensive, but the food is filled with calories, sugar and salt and is not healthy for you all the time. Cook more healthy foods for your family especially vegetables. Home cooked meals are healthier because they don’t have all the process, fried or added calories.
3. Skip the Extra Calories: Moderation! Moderation! Moderation! The word moderation comes into play when we talk about desserts such as cookies, candies, potato chips…. switch focus to more healthy snacks such as pretzels, yogurt, fruits and veggie sticks or veggie chips. Also cut back on the sodas and caffeine drinks. Try drinking more water or even flavored water.
4. Exercise: Do you have some old exercise tapes lying around the house? Well, now is the time to take them out and start using them. Giving 10 – 20 minutes a day to yourself for exercise will benefit you in ways that you could not imagine. Doing exercise during television commercials is a big help also.
5. Support System: Find a family member or friend who wants to workout with you for support. This person gives you that extra push when you want to say no. It is important to exercise with people who share the same goals that you do so that the workout will run smoothly and be fun.
6. Time: Set aside time for yourself. If this means scheduling time on the calendar or treating it like a job, then do it. You deserve time for yourself to be good and enjoy life.
7. Routine: Outline a routine and stick with it. Schedule days and times to workout and follow them. Start off two times a week and every other week add another day and another 10 minutes to your exercise. Change up the routines so that you don’t get burned out on the same routine.
9. Charting Progress: Charting your progress involves taking your body measurements and getting on the scale at least once a month. Weighing in too often can deter you from your program. Only reward yourself when you can see the progress in your clothes and on the scale. Don’t over-reward yourself because you will have defeated the purpose of all the hard work.
10. Putting Yourself First: It’s very easy to get distracted and forget about taking care of yourself. Remember you are one person and to care for others you have to be healthy and take care of you first.
Remember you are special and important to everyone, but care for yourself first so that you can care for others.
Resource: Reposted with permission from The Night Owl Mama
Tired of eating cold cereal for breakfast? Try warming up to a nice bowl of warm oats. January is one of the coldest months of the year which is a perfect time to honor oatmeal and makes complete sense to learn that it is also the month when people eat the most of this warm cereal. Eating these whole oats offer many health benefits and keeps you fuller longer. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast concentrate better at school and work.
Oatmeal doesn’t have to be bland or blah - try some different flavors and textures. Experiment with some of these different options to add to your oatmeal and spice up your morning routine:
Spice combination tip: I find that most fruit is complemented by adding cinnamon. The orange fruits, like peaches and apricots, taste fantastic with a little ginger. Cranberry ginger makes for an interesting combination as well; however, I suggest using white sugar with them.
Time saver tip: On the weekend, take a few minutes to gather your dry ingredients and portion out your oatmeal servings for the week. A few minutes on the front end can save you time each morning when you are rushing to get out the door. A snack size storage bag is the perfect size!
Other things to create with oatmeal: muffins, cookies, or add it to your cakes and pancakes.
When the weather is frightful, there is nothing more delightful than a hot meal to warm you up! Even better than just a hot meal is a hot meal that is healthy, easy to prepare, and wallet friendly. The USDA’s SNAP-Ed Connection Recipe Finder is an unbelievable recipe database that allows you to search for recipes using key words, dish names, and many other recipe qualities making it easy to find the perfect recipe for any occasion. In addition to searching for recipes, you can create your own on-line cookbook, receive food demonstration tips, and receive tips for involving your children in the kitchen. Next time you need a new recipe or just feel like experimenting, visit the USDA’s SNAP-Ed Connection Recipe Finder.
Today’s recipe that I’ve chosen is 20-Minute Chicken Creole. It is during these cold, rainy winter months that a nice, hot dinner really hits the spot. This recipe takes approximately 20 minutes to prepare and has a remarkable nutrition report to boot. The cost for preparing this recipe is about $6.26, making the cost per serving around $.78. Can’t imagine a more perfect recipe!
Recipe Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients: -1 Tablespoon vegetable oil-2 chicken breasts (whole, skinless, boneless)-1 can diced tomatoes (14 ½ oz. with juice)-1 cup chili sauce (low sodium)-1 green pepper (chopped, large)-2 celery ribs (chopped)-1 onion (chopped, small)-2 garlic cloves (minced)-1 teaspoon dried basil-1 teaspoon parsley (dried)-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper-1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions: 1. Heat pan over medium-high heat (350 degrees in an electric skillet). Add vegetable oil and chicken and cook until no longer pink when cut (3-5 minutes).2. Reduce heat to medium (300 degrees in electric skillet).3. Add tomatoes with juice, chili sauce, green pepper, celery, onion, garlic, basil, parsley, cayenne pepper, and salt.4. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes.5. Serve over hot, cooked rice or whole wheat pasta.6. Refrigerate leftovers within 2-3 hours.
Nutrition Facts:-Total Calories per Serving: 130 -Total Fat: 3 grams-Saturated Fat: 0 grams-Cholesterol: 20 milligrams-Sodium: 230 milligrams-Total Carbohydrates: 19 grams-Dietary Fiber: 2 grams-Sugars: 7 grams-Protein: 9 grams
Cost per Recipe: $6.26Cost per Serving: $.78
Resources: USDA’s SNAP-Ed Connection Recipe Finder
It’s no secret that adults often feel the pinch of stress. We get stressed with our everyday tasks at work, at home and even during our leisure activities and hobbies. We know ourselves well enough to identify what is stressing us, how we react to that stress and how to get past the stress and into a more comfortable feeling. But what about youth? Youth get stressed, too, and as adults who have learned to work with and through our own stress, we need to be aware of what we can to help youth who are stressed. We must first understand what stress is to know how to help youth. According to the KidsHealth website, stress is what you feel when you are worried or uncomfortable about something. Furthermore, this worry in your mind can make your body feel poorly. There is a positive type of stress that can motivate individuals. This article will address the implications and coping skills related to negative stress.
Stress symptoms are not one-size-fits-all. Every youth is different and can show signs of stress in several different ways. Iowa State University Extension suggests in their resource, “Stress-Taking Charge,” signs of stress can be categorized in these ways:
What can you do to help a youth once you have identified that they are stressed? Here are a few suggestions:
Don’t forget to model the behavior that you expect from youth. Most stress is temporary and won’t last for long periods of time. Overreacting to stress doesn’t often move someone toward a feeling of comfort. Taking good care of yourself helps with stress. That includes getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising and taking time to have fun with leisure activities.
Source:This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu/, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).
Losing weight can be a challenge. Trying to give up the high calorie foods that you enjoy can be daunting. There’s no fast fix for losing weight, but a gradual lifestyle change can help. Eating the correct portions and exercising is recommended. Therefore, start your New Year with these six easy steps:
1. Make a Plan
One of the easiest and cheapest solutions to dieting is to have a plan. If you want to live differently in the upcoming year, you have to do things differently. Try writing down what and how much you eat.
2. Stay in Control
You are in charge of every bite you take. This may result in your losing weight, gaining weight, or remaining the same. Aim to reduce your portion sizes enough to reduce your daily calorie consumption by 500 to 1,000 calories per day.
3. Note Your Daily Requirements
Your exact requirements for each food group depend on your age, gender, and activity level. Divide servings between meals and snacks to help get the correct portion sizes. Make sure the servings are measured to eliminate extra calories.
4. Time your Meals
Studies indicate that if you eat slower, the body’s fullness hormones are triggered. When you eat less, less calories are consumed which will further cause slimming without a complicated diet.
5. Shrink Your PlateChoose a 10-inch plate instead of a 12-inch dinner plate in order to consume less. More food can be placed on larger plates; therefore, more is eaten. Eating just 50 to 100 extra calories per day can add up to a 10 pound weight gain in a year.6. ExerciseAdding more steps to your daily routine can surely help to burn more calories. Do whatever you can to be more active throughout the day. Use a pedometer to keep track of your steps and aim for 10,000 steps per day.A gradual, consistent plan can save you time and money!References:www.LSUAgCenter.comwww.WebMD.com
Gift Cards May Be the Best Gift
Have you ever found yourself wondering what gift would be appropriate for that friend or relative celebrating a birthday, wedding, graduation or other special day? Adults often have what they need and children’s wants may not be cost appropriate for you. Consider a gift card.
A gift card, whether it is in the amount of $5.00 or $50.00, can be well spent. The recipient can use the card alone or in combination with others to select the exact item desired. For the giver, the gift card is easily available, convenient to purchase and can be designed to fit any budget.
There are two types of gift cards: retail and bank. Retail gift cards are sold by individual merchants and can only be used with that specific merchant while bank gift cards can be used at any location that accepts gift cards.
There is really no perfect gift. Gift cards are no exception. If you are purchasing or receiving a retail gift card, check to be sure that there is not an expiration date on your gift card. If there is, be sure to use the card before the card expires. The bank gift card may carry a fee for activation, maintenance or transaction.
When purchasing gift cards consider:
· Buy from known and trusted merchants. Cards purchased from online auction sites may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.
· Read the fine print before you buy. Shop elsewhere if you do not like the terms and agreements.
· Ask about expiration dates and fees when purchasing the card. Gift cards issued to be redeemed in goods or services provided by the card seller and purchased in Louisiana do not expire for 5 years.
· Consider purchase fees. If you buy the card online or on the phone, is there a fee for shipping and handling? Does expedited delivery cost more?
· Consider activation, maintenance or transaction fees that may be deducted from the value of the card, Gift cards issued to be redeemed in goods or services provided by the card seller and purchased in Louisiana can only have a one-time handling fee of $1.
· Inspect the card before you buy it. Verify that none of the protective stickers have been removed or that codes haven’t been scratched off to reveal a PIN number.
· Give the recipient the original receipt to verify the card’s purchase in case it is lost or stolen.
· Consider the financial condition of the business and whether it has filed for bankruptcy. Cards purchased from troubled business may turn out to be worth less than face value.
The following are tips for the gift card recipient to consider:
· Read the terms and conditions when you get the card and check for any expiration dates or fees associated with the card.
· If the giver did not give you the original purchase receipt or the card’s ID number ask for it.
· Treat your card like cash. If your card is lost or stolen, use the toll free number to report it to the issuer immediately. Some issuers don’t replace lost cards, but others may if you pay a fee.
· Use it or lose it! Use your card as soon as you can. It’s not unusual to misplace gift cards or forget you have them. Using cards early will help you get the full value. Should your card expire before you use it, contact the issuer. They may still honor it although there may be a charge or fee to do so.
· If you have a problem with a gift card, contact the issuing store or financial institution. If you can’t solve the problem at that level, you may want to file a complaint with the appropriate authorities. For cards issued by retailers, contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov. You may also file a complaint with the Louisiana Attorney General, Consumer Protection Section by calling 1-800-351-4889. For problems with cards issued by national banks, call the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency’s Customer Assistance Group at 1-800- 613-6743.
Most retailers, grocery and drug stores sell or provide at no cost an attractive envelope or small box to give your gift card. Coupled with a small toy, package of almonds or other novelty, gift cards can make just as nice a presentation as a large box or gift bag.
Reference: Gift cards are a top choice; purchase and use them wisely
Overeating during the holidays is so easy to do with all the great food, especially down here in the South. However, it is important to remember to practice moderation through use of consuming proper portions so we don’t gain those unwanted pounds. Eating just a few extra bites can quickly increase our calories! An extra 500 calories a day can add up to a gain of one pound per week.
It has to do with our health! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that more than one in three people (33.3%) in the United States are obese, or very overweight. Obesity can lead to many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. And it is happening right here in Louisiana.
Here are a few suggestions:
·Remember to refer to the sectioned MyPlate as a guide on how to set up your plate: ½ your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, ¼ grains, and ¼ proteins. I find that this is the easiest concept to remember and use.
·Another thing we can do is learn to control what we eat by using proper portions at meal time. Not everyone needs the same amount of servings. To learn how many servings you need, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov and use the SuperTracker to keep track.
·Learn to read it before you eat it. I’m referring to the nutrition labels on food packages. At first, this can be tricky. Look at the label to determine the serving size on the package. How many servings are in that one package? You may be surprised. Learn more here.
·Try eating on smaller plates. Adult size plates should be about 9 inches and child size plates should be about 7 inches. These are the proper size plates for the portions we should be eating. Also, when we put our food on proper size plates, the plate looks full. This way we trick our minds into thinking we are eating more.
·You can also use your hand as a tool to measure your food. This works great when we cannot pull out our measuring cups or right size plates – like when we are eating out at a restaurant or a party. To see a “hand” chart, visit diettogo.com.
Joyeux Noël at Bonne Année!
Now think about a gift anyone would enjoy. Good health could be the gift. We all want to look our best and feel good. This holiday season take time to introduce your family and friends to MyPlate. Be sure to let them know about SuperTracker. Giving this gift could be life changing.
December is a hectic time of year with all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the holidays. This time of year comes with stress and lots of tension. December is usually known around the nation as stress relief month, because there are several things that we can do to downsize our stress, relax more and enjoy the colorful lights of the holidays with our family and friends.
Make a list
Care for your body
Care for your spirit
Not responsible for making others happy
First holiday alone
Time and friendship
Sense of humor
Count your blessings
Resources: Hope Health Letter, Vol. 20, No. 11, November 2000.
The daily news tells us that health care costs are increasing and obesity is on the rise. When we look at the worksite, research indicates a strong link between obesity and employees missing work. And when employees come to work sick or with some type of impairment, lost productivity due to poor performance is about 75% of money lost in companies. Employee poor health and absenteeism cost a company money and lost productivity.
The answer is a worksite wellness program where companies make it easy for workers to get exercise on the job and make healthy food choices and offer help to quit tobacco use or manage stress. To get you and your worksite started on the path to better employee health, here is a worksite wellness mini toolkit on how to start a wellness plan or improve the results of an existing worksite wellness program.
1. Be Sure to Get Everyone Involved. Talk to key people like human resource managers, safety officers, and staff members. A healthy employee saves the company money. Work together to develop a plan that addresses the purpose, duration, resources required, participants involved, and expected results of the worksite wellness program.
2. Wellness Promotions. On a regular basis, offer employee assessments of health risks through worksite health fairs, printed check-lists with common health concerns, or monthly health awareness education. When practical, offer free health screenings (height, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes/blood sugar, stress or anxiety/depression) at worksite sponsored health fairs. Lunch and learn wellness programs are a perfect opportunity to promote healthy eating and health education.
3. Encourage an Active Worksite. Suggest employees be active during break time. Allow for “walk and talk” meetings instead of conference room meetings. Map out on-site trails or nearby walking routes or encourage employees to bike or walk to and from work. Provide prompts to promote physical activity near each stairwell or elevator and other key locations. Hold long term (several weeks) physical activity campaigns to encourage sustained daily physical activity. 4. Promote Healthy Food Choices. Modify vending machine contents (more healthy options, competitive pricing). Encourage an on-site cafeteria or food service vendor to follow the nutritional standards of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and follow healthy cooking practices. Promote healthy foods in catering/cafeteria policies through motivational signs, posters, etc. Provide appropriate portion sizes or options for smaller portions. Make water available and promote drinking water throughout the day. Offer healthful food alternatives at meetings, company functions and health events.
5. Promote Fruit and Vegetable Intake. Provide on-site gardening space and resources for employee gardening to be conducted before or after work or on weekends. Community partners also may be interested in connecting with the company garden. Gardening is a great way to reduce stress, increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and build a social and community capacity. Offer local fruits and vegetables at the worksite (farmers market).
6. Moms Work Too. Provide flex time opportunities for breastfeeding employees to pump or breastfeed during the workday. Be sure to have a space set aside for privacy and a refrigerator to keep baby’s food safe.
7. Tobacco. Prohibit tobacco use anywhere on the property. Promote the Louisiana Tobacco Quit Line, 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669). Support participation in smoking cessation activities during duty time if possible.
8. Worksite Program Progress Check-ups. Develop or ask for help to have a formal evaluation process in place to evaluate your worksite wellness program. An annual wellness program review should be conducted and be sure to report significant results to management.
Worksite wellness works. It saves health care dollars and improves productivity by lowering absenteeism. Get your worksite wellness program working.
Worksite Wellness Assessment Checklist Adapted from DHH Louisiana Worksite Wellness Toolkit and Resource Guide 2011 School Vending Machines and Children’s Health in Louisiana, Catherine Champagne, PhD, RD, LDN, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA.
Guidelines for Offering Healthy Foods at Meetings, Seminars and Catered Events, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health
Louisiana Master Gardener Program
Sense of Place: Serving Local Food at Your Meeting, Steven M. Garrett, M.S., R.D.
Louisiana Tobacco Quitline
When it comes to improving bone health in postmenopausal women - and people of all ages, for that matter - eating dried plums is a simple, proactive solution to help prevent fractures and osteoporosis. According to Bahram H. Arjmandi, Florida State University’s chair of the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Science, he has tested numerous fruits, including figs, dates, strawberries and raisins, and none of them come anywhere close to having the effect on bone density that dried plums, or prunes, have.
Arjmandi and his colleagues tested two groups of postmenopausal women over a 12 month period. The first group of 55 women consumed 100 grams of dried plums (about 10 prunes) each day, while the second control group of 45 women ate 100 grams of dried apples. All participants also received daily doses of calcium (500 milligrams) and vitamin D (400 international units).
The group that consumed dried plums had significantly higher bone mineral density in the ulna (one of two long bones in the forearm) and spine, compared with the group that ate dried apples. According to Arjmandi, this was due in part to the ability of dried plums to suppress the rate of bone resorption, or breakdown, which tends to exceed the rate of new bone growth as people age.
Source: "Dried Plums Keep Bones Healthy," Natural Awakenings, August 2012.
The word discipline means to teach and guide. How do parents guide and encourage positive, healthy eating habits that will minimize stops at McDonald's and Burger King? Most parents today are working parents and cannot cook on a daily basis; however, their children can be guided to eat healthy. In a recent research report, the author describes the three styles of parenting. These three parenting styles emphasize and encourage appropriate guidance in choosing healthy eating habits. My three styles -authoritarian, permissive and authoritative - share similarities in encouraging appropriate behaviors in nurturing and caring of the child. The three styles the research mentions are overcontrolling, indulgent and responsive. The research does stress the most important style that promotes healthy eating and it is discussed below.
The overcontrolling style, similar to the authoritarian style, uses control to insist teaching the child to eat healthy and insist that if they don't, they will not get dessert or other treats. They learn punishment and reward early and manipulate parents through obedience but are not happy or content. This parent will often insist on the child eating the entire amount of broccoli before getting the apple pie. The children eat some but not enough to get the basic nutrients needed. They risk obesity due to neglecting cues of fullness.
Indulgent style is similar to the permissive style which allows children to have their way and they usually are not guided or given choices. These parents let children eat whatever they want. These parents also may use the food to appease the child for comforting measures. The children usually eat all the wrong foods and exhibit risky behavior possibly resulting in obesity or just excessive weight gain.
Responsive style or authoritative style teaches and guides the child with appropriate and healthy choices. These parents introduce a variety of foods so the child can experience new foods and learn how they benefit the body. These parents allow the child to decide how much to eat and they encourage them to eat what is needed. This style is the most successful for healthy eating guidance and the authoritative parent is most successful with the child’s happiness, capability and success in life.
Resource:Smart Start: Guiding Your Child to a Lifetime of Healthy Eating by Sheryl O. Hughes, Ph.D., Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine
Holiday time - it's the time for decorating, holiday music, family gatherings, gift giving, tinsel, ribbons and bows, pretty paper, and holiday cooking. While some people feel energized, others find themselves feeling blue.
Sensory overload, the desire for a picture perfect holiday celebration, financial stress, the loss of loved ones or the memory of days gone by can all add to the stress of holidays and the “holiday blues."
If you feel down and depressed for a day or two and can get yourself back into the holiday spirit you may be suffering from the blues. Holiday blues and depression have many of the same symptoms: fatigue, sadness, tension, hopelessness or helplessness, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, irritability, headaches, or other aches. If the feelings persist for longer than several weeks, seek professional help. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Strong people know when they need outside help. Don’t think you have to handle stress alone.
To beat the blues, consider these suggestions:
Be realistic about holidays. The decorated homes featured in the magazines took months and many people to complete. If your neighbor’s home looks like a magazine cover, that neighbor probably is exhausted.
Consider the importance of spending quality time with your family. Begin new traditions – ones that don’t involve much money and focus on activities that can be done together as a family. Why not consider making some of your gifts and decorations? What a great way to spend quality family time with family members!
Honor those who are no longer with you by focusing on those who are around you. If you know someone who is alone during the holidays, invite them to spend some time with you and your family. If you feel alone, reach out and let someone know. Don’t suffer in silence. You will be surprised to learn how many people are experiencing the same type of feelings!
Instead of focusing all of your efforts on one day and one meal, spread more leisurely, less stressful activities over many days. You don’t have to do everything alone! Consider having family over to help decorate the tree or invite friends over to bake holiday cookies - what great ways to get in a holiday visit. Plan your holiday meal and ask invited guests to bring a vegetable, dessert or beverage.
Let this be truly a holiday season and not just one holiday!
Food Desert: The term “food desert” describes communities with poor access to supermarkets and healthier foods. In contrast, a “food oasis” is an area that contains a large supermarket within walking distance. Check out the USDA’s Food Desert Locator, an online mapping tool that gives a snapshot of food access in communities. Another great online tool, the Food Environment Atlas, maps food stores and provides local information on food insecurity, food assistance, local food availability and other socioeconomic qualities.
Families may have to travel farther to find healthier food options and lower prices if they live in a food desert. Transportation can be a struggle for people who do not own a car or live near public transit or bus routes. Another obstacle to food access may be a person’s physical mobility and limited endurance that prohibits shopping for food. And unfortunately, neighborhood crime levels can also be a concern and a type of physical barrier for families, affecting safety and limiting healthy food options.
Healthy Corner Store Projects: Corner store owners in collaboration with communities are developing healthy corner stores as a way to improve food access. These efforts are encouraged by the national Healthy Corner Store Network (HCSN) and are designed to improve public health through better access to healthy foods. A toolkit is available for community-based groups that want to bring fresh produce and other healthy foods to corner stores. Changing the neighborhood food environment lets people make better choices about what they eat.
USDA and Food Access Solutions: USDA nutrition assistance programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and school breakfast and lunch, is providing food security - access for all people at all times to enough nutritious food for an active, healthy life. Successful food access depends on partnerships between the USDA and state and local governments and community organizations and advocates. When communities work together, food security can be improved for big and small, urban and rural. Food Security Action Resources are designed to help communities promote a healthy diet to all Americans.
Affordability: Price is a key factor in food purchasing decisions. Affordability is related to employment and job quality. Increasing food access can help unemployment and a lack of access to healthy food. When underserved communities work with regional producers and food businesses, the relationship expands marketing opportunities, drives growth of new local food-related businesses and jobs, and increases food access.
Farmers’ Markets and Food Access: Farmers’ markets, roadside produce stands, farm to school initiatives, food hubs and other community-based methods for selling local food increase markets for farmers and may improve food access to healthier choices. In the U.S. between 2010 and 2011, the number of farmers’ markets and farm stands accepting SNAP (Food Stamp) EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) grew by 51 percent, to over 2,400.
School and Community Gardens: The trend toward “grow your own” fruits and vegetables is increasing. Research suggests that community gardening increases food access and may positively influence diet and social connection. Gardening does take time, water, usable soil or space, skills/training, and startup funds or donations. The LSU AgCenter offers science-based information to assist with community and school garden projects. Search LSUAgCenter.com for resources.
Communities are tackling food access barriers with positive changes. Suggestions are listed below:1. Increase access to fresh produce by talking with local farmers to increase produce items2. Address transportation barriers through neighborhood mobile markets 3. Incentivize participation in nutrition education programs (SNAP-Ed) 4. Expand access to nutritious food for families with children5. Create a network of farms and gleaning cooperatives which provides unused produce to soup kitchens, pantries, shelters and other outreach programs6. Engage in outreach to promote participation in USDA sponsored school breakfast, particularly through adoption of in-classroom or grab-and-go breakfast service in schools, and promoting ongoing parent involvement.
But even in communities with plenty of food access, families are not eating as many fruits and vegetables as recommended in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Add fruits and vegetables to your family’s meals and enjoy the taste of the season of Louisiana local foods.
During the holidays we often find ourselves overwhelmed with the day to day preparation. Preparation for some may consist of purchasing foods for their holiday dinner, decorating their homes, spending time with family and friends, or just taking time to relax. Whether you have chosen to relax, decorate, or enjoy time with family and friends, remember to share your plate.
Sharing your plate can reduce the excess calories easily consumed during the holidays. Did you know according to research overeating during the holidays is triggered by emotions more than environmental cues? Therefore, spend time socializing - there are benefits to be gained. Have you ever seen anyone gain calories while talking?MyPlate has been overloaded before, but I’m thankful for MyPlate now! Learning to follow these simple steps can help you to be thankful too.
Keep it moving - find activities that will require you to move. Try dancing! Dancing can burn calories. Remember the longer you dance the more calories you burn.
Get your fruit and veggie intake for the day - fruit and veggies are an easy way to fill up. Make certain to stop by the fruit and veggies tray.
Gain self-control - this tip will require practice beforehand. Start thinking ahead how you can avoid tempting situations.
Plan ahead - make the choice to eat a healthy snack before arrival. It can help to reduce your need to seek out the hors d’oeuvres.
Take charge - decide what your menu will consist of. It’s ok to say no thank you!
If you remember these tips when temptation arises to taste all the wonderful holiday dishes, you will be thankful for your plate.
References:www.choosemyplate.govHow to Beat the Holiday Weight Gain Odds from www.webmd.com
Cauliflower is a nutrient dense vegetable – meaning it is low in calories but high in nutrients. Cauliflower provides a powerful punch of Vitamin C and folate and is also a good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin K! It is commonly white in color but also found orange, green and purple if the vegetable is not blanched. Blanching in this instance does not refer to the cooking process, instead, here it is a technique used during the growing process to maintain the white color and also to enhance the flavor and texture. This is accomplished by folding the leaves of the plant over the curd to protect it from direct sunlight. Also, when preparing it, remember that like many vegetables, boiling will cause it to lose its nutrients, so try eating it raw or steamed instead. Here is a great way to sneak in extra veggies and nutrients into your meal without the extra calories.
Using unflavored boxed potato flakes, simply follow the instructions on the box for at least 4-6 servings (if you are using the entire head of cauliflower). While the water is boiling for the potato flakes, start prepping the cauliflower. Remove the stem and leaves, separate the florets, and rinse under cold running water. Place in a steamer or in a pot only slightly filled with water and cover with lid. Allow the water to come to a boil and steam for 7-10 minutes until softened. Drain the water and mash the cauliflower using a potato masher. Combine the cauliflower and potatoes into one container. I also like to sprinkle a generous amount of garlic powder with a little salt and pepper to taste. Vegetables contain fat soluble vitamins which cannot be absorbed without a little fat, so it is ok to use a little light butter spread.
Additional information:Wikipedia: CauliflowerCole Crops: Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage and CauliflowerLouisiana Vegetable Planting Guide
Along with chilly weather comes one of my most favorite foods…SOUP! One of the best parts about soup is that you have the freedom to put whatever it is that strikes your fancy into that soup pot. It could contain vegetables, grains, dairy products, proteins, and even fruits on some occasions. Talk about an all-encompassing food! However, there are plenty of other benefits soup has to offer that deserve some praise as well:
-Can be very healthy (all depending on what you put in it)-Can be made to feed large groups of people easily-Helps to warm your body from the inside out in cold, winter temperatures-Can be made in bulk and then frozen for a later date -Can be very wallet-friendly-Very easy to prepare-Due to the high water content in some soups, can be used for weight loss or maintenance
Here is a delicious and nutritious soup that you can try!
Recipe Yield: 7 servings
Ingredients: -1 cup canned pinto beans, drained-1 can (15 ounces) tomatoes, no salt added-2 cups chicken broth, fat-free, low-sodium-1 cup water-1 cup frozen chopped collard greens-1/2 cup elbow macaroni, uncooked-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder-1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning (optional)-1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions:1. Place the beans and tomatoes in a saucepan. Mash the beans with a potato smasher or hand blender, until about one third of the beans are mashed.2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until the macaroni is done.
Ten-Minute Bean Soup Nutritional Analysis:-Calories: 87 calories per serving-Total Fat: 1 gram -Saturated Fat: Less than 1 gram fat-Trans Fat: 0 grams-Carbohydrates: 15 grams-Protein: 6 grams-Dietary Fiber: 3 grams-Dietary Cholesterol: 0 mg-Sodium: 166 mg
Resources: LSU AgCenter Smart Choices Recipe Book
The risk of falling increases as we age. Falls may cause serious injury that requires hospitalization. Falls may present physical, emotional and psychological issues. Falling or the fear of falling may lead to embarrassment, limited normal daily activity, isolation, lasting disability or the inability to live independently.
During the aging process sight, hearing, muscle strength, coordination and reflexes often change. Some diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes as well as various medications can affect balance which may lead to falls. It is recommended that if multiple medications are prescribed, you should discuss each of the medications with all of your doctors and only take over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies after discussing the possible reactions with your doctors.
Eat well balanced meals and healthy snacks. A sensible diet helps improve a person’s energy, stamina, and alertness which can reduce the risk of falls. Monitor the consumption of alcohol as it can negatively affect balance and coordination and slows the reflexes.
Exercise and daily activity can decrease the chance of falling. Consider walking, exercise groups or gardening to keep active and prevent muscles from weakening.
Simple modifications can make your home safer. Remove clutter and clear walkways of electrical cords and throw rugs. Install non-slip strips or mats in bath tubs or showers. Use a bath bench and a hand held shower head. Install grab bars in or near tubs and showers and near commodes. Use a raised toilet seat with arms for safety.
Wear rubber soled, low heeled shoes that provide good support and traction between your feet and the surface you walk on. Be extremely careful when walking on tile, marble, or highly waxed floors and avoid wearing only socks or smooth soled shoes. Use handrails when using stairs, avoid using ladders or step stools and use a grabbing tool to get hard to reach items.
Use a cane or walker to help maintain balance as recommended by your doctor or physical therapist. Wear a medical alarm so help can be readily available if a fall does occur.
Accidents in the home are usually caused by simple things not thought of as a fall risk. With a small investment of time and effort, accidents from simple causes can be prevented and independent living can continue.
ResourcesNational Institute on Aging: Falls and Fractures
Himes, Christine, Elizabeth N. Oettinger, and Dennis E. Kenny. Aging in Stride: Plan Ahead Stay Connected Keep Moving. Caresourse Healthcare Communications, Inc., 2004.
A snack attack is likely to hit as soon as children get home from school. Plan and have ready-to-eat foods that fit into a healthy eating plan. This means plan snacks that help get the recommended daily amounts from each of the main food groups:
Let’s think about some snack ideas from the fruit group.
Most people need to eat more fruit, especially whole fruit or cut-up fruit. Whole or cut-up fruit provides fiber in addition to the vitamins and minerals found in fruit juice.
Remember: always keep cut fruit refrigerated.
These are just a few of the many ideas that you can consider. Think about your budget, schedule and the nutritional needs of your children to plan a snack idea. Remember, ideas for healthy snacks also include food choices that help get the daily-recommended amounts from the other major food groups as well. The main idea is to have available those foods that help your children get the best nutrition.
Information courtesy of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). For additional information, please see the UF/IFAS website.
Did you know pumpkins are made up of 90% water and are a great source of vitamin A and potassium? Pumpkins even provide beta-carotene, an essential antioxidant. When considering carving pumpkins to make happy Halloween faces, stop and think of the health benefits and paint your happy face instead. If you’re wondering why painting instead of carving, it's simple - painting will afford you an opportunity to preserve and taste the benefits of your pumpkin.
Did you know the pumpkin has been around since 5000 B.C.? Pumpkins are grown and consumed in every part of the world. We often classify them as vegetables, but scientifically they are fruit. Pumpkins are available all year; just remember they are freshly harvested during October. Therefore, the next time you’re pondering what to do with your pumpkin think Happy Healthy Halloween and try something new!
UNL Extension Backyard Farmer: Pumpkins Have Many UsesUK Extension Lyon County Extension Homemaker Newsletter: More Than Pumpkin Pie
One of the main problems we face today is how to get our family to eat healthier. Does that mean allowing our family to eat whatever they want - like candy, cookies and cakes?
Many of us love eating sweets, whether it is lollipops, candy bars, cookies, donuts, etc. Sweets are a childhood, as well as an adult, favorite treat, especially on Halloween. Halloween is a day to get as much candy and sweets as you can. They can be hard to pass up. Unfortunately, we know they are not great for us. It is unhealthy to overeat sweets. What do we do if we have a bucket full of them?
Disadvantages of eating sweets:
1. Sweets do not add nutrients to our diet.
2. Sweets add unwanted calories. Sugar and sweets are high in empty calories.
3. Sweets can negatively affect our energy level. They can give us a quick boost of energy, almost immediately; but further a quick decline in energy.
4. Sweets can lead to weight gain.
5. Sweets can lead to bacteria and tooth decay.
6. Sweets and candy can increase blood-sugar levels.
How do we get the family to slow down on sweets?
1. Remove the temptations from the home.
2. Buy healthy foods such as fresh fruits or vegetables.
3. Make sure to pack a pre-packed snack to have at school.
4. Avoid sending snack money.
5. Use the candy-free check-out lane at the grocery stores.
6. Have family members respect your decision and support each other.
What to do with extra sweets?
1. Donate the sweets to troops overseas.
2. Sell the sweets to a local dentist. Check out the website or local ads to find a dentist that participates in the Halloween Candy Buyback.
3. Freeze the sweets. Children won’t eat too much so quickly.
4. Cook with them occasionally.
Healthy Halloween Alternatives:
1. Replace candy and sweets with small treats such as yo-yos, stickers, pencils, erasers, etc.
2. Replace candy and sweets with healthy alternatives such as dried fruit snacks, granola, or trail mix.
3. Replace candy and sweets with coupons for healthy snacks.
Are you looking for creative ways to use vegetables from your fall garden?
Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere! What will you do with all those pumpkins? Here is a tip on how to incorporate your fall harvest into a simple recipe and improve your fruit and vegetable consumption. This recipe is also great for picky eaters because they will not be able to detect the hidden vegetable source.
The orange color of pumpkins indicates a rich source of beta carotene. Pumpkins are also a good source of potassium, lutein and fiber as well as many other nutrients. The nutrients in this superfood may reduce your risks of some cancers, cataracts, macular degeneration, and heart disease. Many people enjoy pumpkin pie at this time of year; however, pumpkins are not just for pies. Keep a few extra cans around to make pumpkin soup, pumpkin ravioli, or pumpkin pancakes. Chocolate and pumpkin make a great combination as well - here is one of my fall favorites.
Chocolate pumpkin cake is an easy yet delicious and nutritious treat! All you need is a box of chocolate cake mix and 8-10 ounces of pure pumpkin. Simply replace the oil, eggs, and water, of which a traditional box cake recipe calls for, and replace with an 8-10 oz. can of pumpkin or fresh pureed pumpkin. This technique reduces the fat and cholesterol while increasing the nutrients. The mixture will be thick and dense and will cook somewhat like a fudgy brownie. Thus you will only need to use one 8” round pan. You also may need to adjust your cooking time – check doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If cake sticks to the toothpick, continue baking for a few more minutes. When done, the cake should have also cooked away from the sides of the pan. If you decide to add frosting, make certain the cake has cooled completely. Also, this chocolate pumpkin cake has a better taste and texture when served chilled, so plan in advance. I prefer to chill mine overnight.
The challenges of improving Louisiana’s local farm economy range from federal policy to local and regional nuances in land-use and regulations. By developing local and regional Food Policy Councils (FPC), Food System Networks and Food Sector Collaborations, every part of the state can capitalize on the assets of the region to overcome barriers and challenges. In New Orleans the Food Policy Advisory Committee, for example, successfully worked with the City of New Orleans to create a $14 million fund to incentivize grocers to locate in underserved neighborhoods. This kind of innovation should not be limited to New Orleans or metropolitan areas. Local and regional food policy councils can bring together the best and brightest in the region to build a sustainable and vibrant local farm economy.
Throughout Louisiana, from Jefferson David Pro Start to the Good Food Project in Alexandria and from John Besh’s restaurants to the Ponchatoula High School Future Farmers of America program, Louisianans are building a sustainable local food economy that will improve the health and wealth of communities throughout the state. A regional or local FPC can gather this energy, share best practices, and guide the vision for a healthy, vibrant Louisiana rooted in the traditions of the past and innovating for the future.
Louisiana, with a strong local food economy, can enhance access to fresh, local produce and improved health outcomes for diet-related illnesses. The goal of an FPC is to involve anti-hunger activists, farmers, processors and distributors, educators, public health professionals, state and local government officials, and health care providers.
Several states from around the country have active regional and local food policy councils that work to develop tangible action steps for participants to build strong, sustainable, and healthy citizens. An FPC can develop a plan to leverage resources to fight hunger in every parish of Louisiana through coordination and collaboration. In addition to this, a farm to school program effectively utilizes existing resources and develops new markets for farmers, processors and distributors. Finally, each region in the state can develop a local food policy council to work collectively towards strengthening the local farm economy.
Join the LSU AgCenter on November 7, 2012, at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center for the first Louisiana Food Access Summit. To register for this event, click here.
With the winter season on the horizon, it is important to begin to think about getting your annual flu shot. Although this immunization doesn’t protect you from all strains of the respiratory disease, it will protect you for the current flu viruses that are in circulation.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious virus infection that affects the nose, throat and lungs. November through March is the prime time that the virus is active. Symptoms of flu include any combination of: cough, fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, sore throat and stuffy or runny nose.
Young children, adults over 50, individuals diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease, pregnant women, individuals with weakened immune systems and those living in long term care facilities are considered to be more susceptible for serious and prolonged illnesses which can even cause death.
To prepare for the flu season: receive the vaccine; follow a healthy diet; wash hands often and properly; use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when water is not available; use and discard paper towels rather than using cloth towels; cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze - then discard the tissue; refrain from large public gatherings; check with your doctor as to what antiviral medications you should have on hand; refrain from sharing personal items including drinking cups, straws, cosmetics, eating utensils, washcloths and towels; and disinfect shared items and common areas such as countertops and sinks, door knobs, telephones, tables, and any other frequently touched areas.
If you contract this virus, remain home from work, school or other outings. Attempt to remain as isolated as possible from other family members, as this virus is quickly spread. Take doctor-prescribed antiviral medication, drink plenty of liquids and get adequate rest. If you care for others infected with the flu, keep the person isolated, give prescribed medications on schedule, wash or sanitize hands, clothing and bed linens often.
To prepare for the flu season, create a “flu emergency kit” including: an ample water supply (1 gallon per day per person); canned fruits, soups and vegetables; crackers; canned fruit juices; peanut butter; baby food; pet food; your doctor recommended over-the-counter medicines for fever or pain relief; vitamins and a thermometer; and personal supplies such as tissues, toilet paper and disposable diapers if needed.
The best prevention during flu season is to stay healthy by eating a variety of healthy foods including whole grains, fruits and vegetables to obtain the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed. Eat in moderation; limit fats, salt and added sugars; exercise daily (adults 30 minutes and children 60 minutes); manage stress and get ample rest.
Information for this article obtained from: Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health, Be Prepared for a Flu Pandemic U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging
by Monica LaBorde
In Louisiana, Thanksgiving means large family gatherings and lots of delicious food. Holiday meals are a special time for celebrating. Of course the meal is centered on that ever popular “turkey." Defrosting the turkey in time for Thanksgiving dinner takes careful planning on your part. The key to getting your meal defrosted and cooked on time begins with the following preparations:
In the refrigerator a turkey will take 3 to 4 days to defrost.
In the sink, place the turkey (still in the bag) in cold water to cover. It will take 7 to 8 hours or overnight to defrost. Be sure to replace the fresh cold water often. It is very important that the outside of the turkey does not get warm because that would be the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Never partially cook a turkey one day and finish it the next day – you put your family at risk for food poisoning.
Cooking Times for Baking Turkey
The month of October is a crucial awareness month for women’s health. Throughout the month of October, National Breast Cancer Awareness is observed. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget for themselves and the ones they love to develop a plan for reducing the risk and early detection in the disease’s early stages. So, do you think pink in October?
According to the American Cancer Society, in the United States, about 12% of women will develop an invasive breast cancer within their lifetime. Therefore, it is critical to know the steps to take in order to reduce the risk and detect within the early stages of the disease.
Be proactive. Visit your doctor for regular health screenings and mammograms. If you don’t have health insurance, check out resources within your community that will assist with providing access to health screenings.
Maintain a healthy weight. If overweight, set the goal of losing 5% - 10% of your current weight. Slow weight loss of a ½ pound to 2 pounds per week is best.
Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine; at least 75 minutes to 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week for maximum health benefits.
Limit alcohol intake. Consuming alcoholic beverages in moderation is okay; moderation includes 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men per day (1 – 5oz. glass of wine, 12 oz. beer or 1.5 oz. hard liquor).Let MyPlate be your guide when selecting your daily food choices. Choose more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein sources. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables to at least 5 cups daily. Think color when selecting your fruits and vegetables; the more colorful, the better. If you aren’t sure how much you should eat, use the MyPlate Daily Food Plan as a guide.
Know your health history and your family's health history.
SourcesAmerican Cancer SocietySusan G Komen FoundationMyPlateNational Cancer InstituteNational Breast Cancer Foundation
Schools can provide affordable lunch options, but some family members choose to pack lunches from home for school and work. Packing lunches from home can keep the cost down and can be healthier and add more nutrients.
Use Reusable Containers Using paper bags, disposable forks and spoons and sandwich bags is wasting money every day. Purchasing durable food containers with tight-fitting lids in several sizes can save money and help the environment.
Avoid Single Serving Packages Buying large quantity containers of lunch box foods and beverages saves money and provides more food and more nutrients in the meal. Using reusable containers, pack single serving portion sizes of fruits, vegetables and yogurt. You can buy a block of cheese and cut it into cubes and pack for lunch as a snack for yourself or your child, which is better than purchasing cheese sticks or other processed cheese snacks.
Prepare, Bake and Cook Ahead of Time On weekends, prepare servings of food for two or three days - such as chopped vegetables, pasta salads, soups, casseroles, spaghetti, stews, gumbo and other healthy meals. In addition, bake healthy breads, muffins, cookies and even brownies using whole wheat flour, oats and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Plan Menus in AdvancePlan meals for a week and make sure you have enough ingredients for two meals. Pack the lunches the night before to avoid rushing in the morning and forgetting part of the lunch. Make packing lunches a fun family event. Invite your children to help pack their lunches so that they will be excited to enjoy what they have packed for themselves to eat.
Resources: USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance ProgramK-State Research & Extension
Most of the time, pumpkins are only used for carving and then discarded after Halloween is over. However, they are actually a lot more versatile than originally thought! Here are some of the ways that pumpkins can be utilized:
-Carving them into spooky shapes for Halloween-Making them into delicious breads, soufflés, soups, fried snacks, cookies…shall I go on?-Creating a revitalizing facial mask-Adding flavoring to fall inspired coffee drinks
Some of those ways to use pumpkins may come as a surprise to you but even more surprising is the substantial amount of vitamins and anti-oxidants that pumpkins have to offer! They are a good source of some B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E; riboflavin; potassium; copper; and manganese.
What exactly does this translate to in terms of health benefits?
-Helps to control cholesterol levels-Helps to maintain a healthy weight-Provides nutrients that improve skin health-Possibly helps to prevent lung and oral cancers-Helps maintain eye health and prevent age-related macular degeneration
So how about starting the day off right with some scrumptious and healthy recipes using pumpkin!
3/4 cup packed brown sugar1/2 cup light margarine, softened1/4 cup maple syrup1 egg1 cup canned pumpkin, with no salt added1 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon saltFat-free non-stick cooking spray
Directions1. Combine sugar, margarine, and syrup. Beat well.2. Add egg and pumpkin, beating until smooth.3. Stir together remaining ingredients. Add pumpkin mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy).4. Spray muffin pans and fill half full. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.
ResourcesSelf Nutrition Data, search pumpkin, raw: nutritiondata.self.com Nutrition and You, search pumpkins: www.nutrition-and-you.com Pumpkin Muffins, LSU AgCenter Smart Choices Recipe Book
Carmen Miranda and the Banana Lady have worn hats or headpieces loaded with fruits and vegetables. Locally, the Salubrious RD has been spotted with a similar adornment. Karen Walker is a registered dietitian and an area agent in nutrition for the LSU AgCenter Extension office in Jefferson, Louisiana. She teaches the Smart Choices Lessons for the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).
Lesson 4: "Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables" was taught to 88 sixth grade girls at J.D. Meisler Middle School in Jefferson Parish.
Ms. Walker teaches one hour youth lessons which include several fun activities. A game of bingo, complete with prizes like veggie eye glasses or get growing lunch bags, was first on the agenda. Next the group participated in some physical activity--twisting, jumping, and hopping to the More Matters: Fruits and Vegetables song and dance music CD. Since these students are from Coach Bierman’s PE/health class, some sort of physical activity is incorporated into the lesson each week. Participation is the key.
To reinforce the fact that half of your plate should include fruits and vegetables, Karen gave the students a sheet of paper with a blank plate, and they were asked to divide the plate and draw two fruits and two vegetables on their plate.
All fruits and vegetables grow from the ground and are parts of a plant. To incorporate some critical thinking, Ms. Walker asked the students to determine which part of the plant are certain fruits and vegetables. For example the beet is a root, celery is a stem, peas are seeds, broccoli is a flower, green beans are a fruit, and collard greens and spinach are leaves. “If you are eating cauliflower, you are eating a flower,” she explained. The students had time to complete the assignment and the answers were given by the students who raised their hands with the correct answer.
The class summary included flash cards with less familiar examples of fruits and vegetables. “Do you recognize this?” Ms. Walker asked as she held up a card with a mirliton or chayote squash. “They grow in Louisiana,” she added. Finally, she gave the students the answers. Several other cards were shown and the students answered with the name of the correct fruit or vegetable.
A sample of fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and a baby carrot were given to students, so they could taste a raw vegetable. "This snack will contribute to the five servings of fruits and vegetables that you need each day," she reminded them. A variety of activities are incorporated into these lessons because learning is fun.Sources:Fruits and Veggies, More MattersChooseMyPlate.govLSU AgCenter
At least once a week on any given school day kids bring their lunch to school because they do not like what is being served in the cafeteria. The problem with some lunches brought from home is they are subjected to temperature extremes. Varying temperatures can lead to food poisoning. Make sure to pack your lunch in an insulated lunch pack with an ice pack so foods stay cool. Make sure if you are reheating any foods to do so thoroughly.
· Meats, fish, poultry, eggs and cooked beans or sandwiches and salads made with these foods
· Processed meats (bologna, hot dogs, ham)
· Milk and milk drinks
· Custards and puddings
· All foods containing cheese (including pizza and casseroles)
· All cooked vegetables
· Cut melons
· Cooked rice, pasta, salads, soups or dishes containing rice or pasta
· Gravy, sauces, butter and margarine
· Nuts and peanut butter
· Dry soup mixes
· Unopened shelf stable puddings
· All raw vegetables and fruits
· Breads, crackers, cookies, dry cereals
· Condiments such as ketchup and mustard
· Fruit pies
Source: Virginia Cooperative Extension Service
September is National Food Safety Month. In 2011, the statistics on foodborne illness in the United States, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimate that each year about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) become sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. So what can we do to protect ourselves? The new food safety campaign suggests that we follow these four simple steps:
Before you begin, make certain to wash your hands! Washing our hands is the first and most important step to preventing foodborne illness.Proper hand washing techniques suggested by the CDC is to wet your hands, apply soap, rub for 20 seconds, rinse under running water, dry hands with a paper towel, and turn off the faucet with the paper towel. If you are in a restroom, you should also use the paper towel to open the door when exiting the restroom. Wash counters, cooking equipment, and fruits and vegetables before you chop/peel them.
Don’t cross contaminate! Make certain that cooked items do not touch any cooking equipment which previously held raw food.
The only way to tell if your food is cooked thoroughly is to use a thermometer. Click here for a temperature chart.
Refrigerate leftovers within two hours. Leaving food at room temperature for two hours or longer starts to increase bacterial growth. Keep the fridge at 40˚F or below.
Safety is key! So when in doubt – throw it out!Resources:FoodSafety.govCheck Your Steps - Clean (video)Check Your Steps - Separate (video)Check Your Steps - Cook (video)Check Your Steps - Chill (video)
Who is the most important influence on your children? You are of course. You have the ability to help your children develop good, healthy eating habits during their life. Offering your children a variety of different foods gives your children the nutrients that they need from many different types of foods. Family time can be great for cooking, eating and talking together.
1. Showing by examples: Plan to eat snacks that include raw vegetables, fresh fruits and 100% whole grain foods. This will allow your children to see you eating healthy and follow your lead.
2. Bring your children grocery shopping: Grocery shopping with your children teaches then how to pick healthy and nutritious foods. Explain to them the growing process of vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and protein foods and their value. Allow your children to make their own healthy choices.
3. Being creative in the kitchen with your children: Use cookie cutters to cut your vegetables and fruits. Let your children tell the family what foods they helped prepare. Encourage and motivate your children to create new snacks. Create your own trail mixes with your children and name it after the family’s name or your children’s name.
4. Offering everyone the same foods: Don’t cook different dishes to please your children. Plan family meals that everyone eats.
5. Rewarding your children with attention, not food: Show your children affection with hugs and kisses - not sweet snacks.
6. Focusing on family members at the table: Avoid looking at the television and talk about fun and happy exciting things at mealtime.
7. Listening to your children: If your children say that they are hungry, offer them a small healthy snack full of nutrients before dinner.
8. Limiting TV and computer time: Give your children allotted TV and computer time of no more than 2 hours.
9. Encouraging physical activity: Encourage walking, running and playing with your children on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This sets a good example for exercising.
10. Being a good food role model: Try new foods and acquire new tastes. Tell your children what it tastes like and offer your children a sample to taste for themselves. Offer the new food with your children’s favorite food. Do not force them to eat the food.
September is Rice Month. Rice happens to be an important staple to any Louisiana citizen's diet.Rice is a complex carbohydrate. Both brown and white rice are nutritious and can help you reduce fat in your diet. Brown rice contains slightly more nutrients, followed by white rice, then instant rice. Wild rice has a little more protein and a little less carbohydrates then brown rice. One cup of cooked white rice contains 225 calories and only a trace of fat. Rice can be made a part of any meal and can be used in recipes for salads, main dishes and desserts. It is easily prepared and an economical base for gourmet recipes as well as quick and easy home cooked meals.It is important for us to remember it is not the rice that is high in fat, but the gravies and sauces we cover the rice with that really add on the fat. Here is a great recipe for you to try:
1 & 3/4 cups chicken broth 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)1 small green pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)3/4 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice 1 can (about 15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Heat the broth, cumin, black pepper, onion and green pepper in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil. Stir in the rice. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Heat beans in a saucepan and heat until hot. Fold into hot rice and serve. Serves 4 (1/2 cup).
Nutrition facts per serving: 192 calories, 1 gram fat, 285 mg sodium
In accordance with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Americans have been consuming way more salt (sodium) than is necessary. So why is eating too much salt a big deal? Salt intake has been directly correlated to our blood pressure in a number of studies. Therefore, increased salt intake equals an increase in an individual’s blood pressure; decreased salt intake equals a decrease in an individual’s blood pressure. Abnormally high blood pressure is associated with a higher risk of developing a number of chronic diseases. By lowering your blood pressure, you can lower your risk for developing cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, hypertension, and kidney disease.
Some fun facts about salt (sodium) that you might not know:-Salt (sodium) is necessary for survival. -Only 500 mg of sodium per day is necessary for survival; most Americans consume from 3,600 to 6,000 mg of sodium per day!-Sodium in our bodies is mainly used for keeping our teeth and bones strong and for maintaining our fluid balance. -Canned, smoked, cured, pickled, and fried foods have been identified as the main culprits for our overconsumption of salt.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends using spices!
Spices are a great way to flavor your foods without using too much salt. Here are some spices to consider:-Black pepper-Cayenne pepper-Oregano-Cumin-Garlic powder (not to be confused with garlic salt)-Onion powder (not to be confused with onion salt)-Bay leaf-Curry powder-Thyme-Paprika-Nutmeg-Clove-Cinnamon-Chili powder-Italian herb seasoning blend
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also recommends herbs as a choice for sodium reduction in the diet. They can be purchased fresh, dried, or home grown.
For other great ways to reduce sodium without reducing taste, you can refer to the following links and resources:
Spice Advice: Get to Know your Spice Rack
The Nutrition Source: Salt Substitutes
Shaking the Salt Habit
LSU AgCenter MyPlate: Let’s Eat for the Health of it Curriculum
Hurricane Isaac has passed, but many are in or will be in recovery mode after the lights come on and the waters recede. The big question by many is what to do with the food that has been in the house? Is it still safe to eat?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) makes recommendations for proper handling of food after an emergency. The following information provides tips on how to handle food if there has been a power outage or if flooding has occurred.
·Never taste food to determine if it’s safe to eat.
·Check the temperature of the refrigerator or freezer; perishable foods (meats, seafood, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, deli foods or leftovers) that are above 40° F for more than two hours should be discarded.
·If you don’t have a thermometer and power is out for four hours or more, discard perishable items.
·If freezer items still have ice crystals or are at 40° F or below, it is safe to cook, eat or refreeze.
·Discard freezer items where the power has been out for over 48 hours.
·Remember, when in doubt, throw it out!
Handling food if flooding has occurred:
·Discard all food that has come in contact with flood waters; this includes canned goods (store bought or home canned).
·Do not eat food packed in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth, and similar containers that have been water damaged.
·Drink only bottled water that has not come in contact with flood waters. Also, check local announcements that provide updated information on the safety of the water supply.
·Discard wooden cutting boards, wooden utensils, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers
·Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils (including can openers) with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse, and then sanitize them by boiling in clean water or immersing them for 15 min. in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
·Thoroughly wash countertops with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse, and then sanitize by applying a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest water available). Allow to air dry.
By following these recommendations, you can protect yourself and your family from hazards that can cause food to be unsafe to eat after an emergency. Always remember the error proof rule - when in doubt, throw it out.
SourcesKeeping Food and Water Safe Before, During and After a Disaster, LSU AgCenterFood Safety for Consumers Returning Home After a Hurricane and/or Flooding, USDAFood Safety in a Power Outage, USDA
Realizing that August is national sandwich month and national peach month, I sat and contemplated about how I could combine these two American favorites. I suddenly recalled the pleasure of eating a special grilled sandwich I had at the beach a few summers back. The combination of these ingredients provides layers of flavors and textures that meld perfectly together. I hope you enjoy this recipe.
1/2 large purple onion, sliced ¼” thick1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 2 large ripe peaches, sliced ¼” thick 6 whole wheat rolls or buns 6 ounces soft ripened blue cheese 1&1/2 cups arugula 6 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise 6 herb-marinated chicken breastsSalt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat grill to 400° to 450° (high) heat.
2. Rinse fruit and vegetables under running water and pat dry with a paper towel. Peel and slice peaches and set aside. Slice onion and brush 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil onto sliced onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Grill onion, grill lid closed, over 400° to 450° (high) heat 7 to 10 minutes on each side or until just tender. Grill peach slices next, closed grill lid, over 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear.
4. Spread 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise inside each roll/bun top and grill, cut sides down, lid open, over 400° to 450° (high) heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown.
5. Spread blue cheese on cut sides of roll bottoms. Optional: after spreading the blue cheese, place back on grill 1 to 2 minutes, cheese side up, to slightly warm the cheese. Next, layer with onion, arugula, chicken, peaches, and roll top.
Adapted from a recipe at www.myrecipes.com.
Hey parents! Did you know that giving children a nutritious breakfast in the morning makes a BIG difference in how they perform during the day in school? Well, listen up!
Giving your child a well-balanced, nutritious breakfast in the morning will help your child do the following during the day in school:
· Focus and concentrate better on school work· Work and understand math problems better· Increase energy level
· Become healthier
· Attend more days of school
· Have a higher nutrient intake
· Have fewer behavioral problems in school
· Focus and concentrate better on school work· Work and understand math problems better· Increase energy level
· Become healthier
· Attend more days of school
· Have a higher nutrient intake
· Have fewer behavioral problems in school
Eating breakfast with your children allows them to eat more nutritious food because they are eating what they see you eat. Let children help prepare the breakfast by allowing them to get the cereal bowls, cereal, milk or spoons. This will allow them to feel special and that they are fixing their own breakfast. If your child does not have time to eat at home, make sure that he or she eats breakfast at school.
Parents, let’s make sure that children have everything they need to be successful, healthy and full of energy during the day at school.
by: Monica LaBorde
Want your children to be alert in school? Encourage them to eat breakfast everyday. Studies show that breakfast eaters are healthier and more energetic throughout the day. National studies also confirm that breakfast can help children concentrate, think, behave and learn more. Better concentration means higher test scores and higher math scores. Breakfast eaters also are healthier and attend more days of school. When children learn to eat breakfast at a young age; they are more likely to carry on this good habit throughout their lives.
If your children don’t have time to eat at home or just are not hungry first thing the morning, have them try breakfast at school. School breakfast supplies 1/4 the recommended daily allowance of a child’s nutritional needs for the day. School breakfast is a healthy meal that provides a variety of foods. Best of all school breakfast is easy and convenient.
If you are looking for a breakfast fast food instead of a fast food breakfast, try making mix’ n match breakfast sandwiches, like the one you see at fast food restaurants. Of course you can control the caloric intake and the nutritious value of the “make at home” fast food breakfast. It is important to choose healthy sandwich ingredients.
Grain/Bread group select: Bagels, English muffins, tortillas, pancakes, French bread, waffles, pitas.
Fruit/Vegetables group select: Bananas, apples, peppers, peaches, tomatoes, melon, kiwi, oranges, pineapple, and mushrooms.
Meat/Protein group select: chicken, fajita strips, eggs, lean ham, taco meat, beans, and peanut butter.
Dairy food group select: low-fat cheeses, low fat cream cheese
Mix and match ingredients for a quick breakfast with a flair. Make open face sandwiches with cheese melted on a slice of French bread. Try a Hawaiian breakfast pizza using melted cheese on a toasted English muffin topped with pizza sauce, lean ham with pineapples. Nourish your child with a breakfast pita filled with thinly sliced chicken, peppers and cheese. Lastly, make a pancake roll-up with turkey sausage and string cheese on a warm pancake.
Encourage your children to eat a healthy breakfast everyday. They will see the benefits for years to come.
Diabetes develops when the body either does not produce insulin or does not use insulin properly. Insulin allows the body to move glucose (sugar) from the blood into the cells of the body which provides energy. Without insulin, the blood glucose will rise to dangerously high levels leading to the development of diabetes. The diets of individuals diagnosed with diabetes centers around carbohydrates since carbohydrates have the greatest effects on an individual’s blood glucose levels.
According to the American Diabetes Association, one of the major myths relating to a diabetic diet is: individuals diagnosed with diabetes cannot consume carbohydrates. The only foods that do not contain carbohydrates are fats and meats. Sources of carbohydrates include: bread, crackers, pasta, rice, grains, cereal, peas, potatoes, corn squash, lima beans, green beans broccoli, carrots, milk, cheese, yogurt, fruits, fruit juices, sweets, desserts, table sugar, honey, molasses and syrup. Since carbohydrates provide energy to the body all individuals should consume selected carbohydrates in moderation.
The goal for selecting carbohydrates is to select those that are not quickly digested and absorbed by the body. Prior to deciding on what carbohydrates you will add to your diet, follow the guidelines set by your physician and trained dietitian.
There are three main types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches, and fiber.
SugarsAccording to the American Diabetes Association, sugars are completely absorbed and raise blood glucose quickly. The three types of sugar include naturally occurring sugars such as lactose and fructose found in milk or fruit. The second type of sugar is added sugar which includes table sugar or sucrose and other sweeteners that are added to foods during processing. These include fruit canned in heavy syrup or sugar added to beverages. Finally there are sugar alcohols. Examples are low or reduced-calorie sweeteners. Sugar alcohols do not contain alcohol and have less of an effect on blood glucose than other sugars.
StarchesStarches, the second type of carbohydrates, are formed when many units of sugar are joined together. The types of starches include: amylopectin, amylose, and oligosaccharide. Amylopectin is rapidly digested and absorbed into the body which causes blood glucose levels to rise quickly. Examples of amylopectin include short grain sticky rice and baking potatoes. Amylose is known as a resistant starch because it resists digestion and does not cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. Examples of amylose include new potatoes, raw potatoes, green bananas, high amylose maize starch, and heated-then-cooled starches such as cold cooked potatoes, rice and pasta. Oligosaccharide carbohydrates which are found in beans and legumes are not digested in the small intestine and do not raise blood sugar levels.
FiberDietary fiber includes non-starchy carbohydrates and the woody part of plants. Dietary fiber is not digested in the small intestine and does not raise blood glucose levels. There are two types of dietary fiber. Soluble fiber helps lower blood cholesterol levels and controls blood sugar and promotes intestinal health. Sources of soluble fiber include fresh or dried fruit, vegetables, oats, legumes and seeds. Insoluble fiber assists with the regular expulsion of waste from our body. Insoluble fiber are non-digestible and do not raise the blood glucose level. Sources include whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed bran and wheat germ.
For healthy nutrition, choose foods containing carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat milk. Eat sugars and sweets in moderation as these foods tend to have few nutrients and high levels of calories and fat. Before changing your diet visit with your physician and a registered dietitian who will help you understand about eating healthfully, and using sweets and sugars in moderation.
Despite the word ‘nut’ appearing in the word ‘peanut,’ peanuts are not nuts! They are actually legumes and fall into the same category as beans, peas, and lentils. It is recommended that peanuts be planted in the Louisiana climate from April 1st-June 15th for the best harvesting results. The peanut plant actually starts off as a ground flower that, due to its heavy weight, eventually points downwards and continues growing underground. This is where the familiar brown pod-covered legumes form and mature. You can find out if you have good quality peanuts by shaking them. Firstly, they should feel heavy for their small size and secondly, they should not rattle because that is an indication of a dried out peanut.
Peanuts are not just your average party, baseball, or circus snack; they actually pack a lot of nutrition punch for their size! If the dry roasted, salt free peanut option is chosen, they are a great source of protein, manganese, and niacin with a low sodium and cholesterol content. Peanuts also provide mostly healthy fats so they are considered heart healthy! For a healthy sized serving, try to limit your intake to ¼ cup. You will be surprised how filling this small portion of food can be!
In addition to these nutrition pluses, here are some of the health benefits associated with peanut consumption:
As far as adding peanuts into your daily diet goes, be creative! Here are some ideas you can test out on your own:
For some more creative peanut ideas, you can check out the National Peanut Board’s website or Epicurious, for people who love to eat!
National Peanut Board
World’s Healthiest Foods, Search peanuts
Self Nutrition Data, Search peanuts
Epicurious, Search peanuts
Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide, LSU AgCenter
Yesterday I was walking to my van when I passed Lois, one of the ladies participating in the LSU AgCenter’s: LET’S EAT FOR THE HEALTH OF IT /Smart Choices Nutrition series offered to Jefferson Parish employees housed at the Yenni building. She was carrying a large green cucuzza.
Immediately, I became excited and curious as to where she procured such a treasure. Not only is the cucuzza the largest and most unusual vegetable in the world; it is delicious to eat. My salivary glands were stimulated and my stomach lurched.
I could not just let her pass by me without asking a question. “Where did you get the cucuzza?” I asked smiling widely. Lois explained that Wayne, who works in the Yenni building, grows them. “OMG,” I thought! Just as she was finishing her sentence, a gentleman walked towards us. It was him; the cucuzza grower in the flesh. I was giddy with excitement and began rattling off questions like Jeopardy’s host Alex Trebek.
Finally he asked me the question of the day. “Would you like to have one?” he inquired. I answered yes so quickly, I’m not certain I was even understandable. He offered to bring a cucuzza to me the next day. We exchanged business cards and I beamed with excitement.
Just before Wayne left, I realized there were cooking pears in my van to be delivered to my mother. I offered a bag of pears to him as barter for the cucuzza. He accepted.
As promised, there were two, not one, cucuzzas waiting for me in my office the following morning.
Don’t you just love a story with a happy ending?
“Now what is a cucuzza?” you may ask. The cucuzza is an Italian gourd or squash, with its own website and everything. Louis Prima even wrote a song about the wonderful cucuzza. To visit the website click HERE.
Cucuzza can be a substitute for yellow, summer, or zucchini squash in most recipes. It has a mild flavor similar to the merliton, yet it's sweeter and easier to peel. Sometimes, if the Italian gourd is freshly harvested, you can grate it without having to remove the peel. Wash well before handling any vegetables used in a recipe.
Take it from the Salubrious RD - cucuzza is low in fat, high in fiber, contains Vitamin C and is a great vegetable to add to your plate. Look for the cucuzza now- it is in season.
Squash and Pumpkins from www.lsuagcenter.com
Master Gardeners of Greater New Orleans - Gardening Tips
Quincy's Recipe Corner - Italian Squash Pie
Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide from www.lsuagcenter.com
What is a Cucuzza Squash? from www.wisegeek.com
"Make half your plate fruits and vegetables" is a key MyPlate consumer message to promote increased consumption of fruits and vegetables for an overall healthy diet. They provide many vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and of course, water. Cool melon cubes, pineapple and orange slices, and berries are a few examples of fresh fruits that provide satisfying hydration on a hot summer’s day. Proper handling and storage ensures fresh fruits and vegetables maintain their taste and freshness longer and are safe for consumption.
·Fresh fruits and vegetables should not be washed before storage. However, if they are very dirty after harvest they should be rinsed with clean water (scrub firm ones like potatoes with a clean produce brush) and well dried before storing.
·Leafy greens are crisper when they are washed immediately and refrigerated.
·Always wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under clean running water just before serving or preparation.
·Store prepackaged (cut, sliced, peeled, etc.) fruits and vegetables in refrigerator drawers immediately after purchase.
·It is important to store fruits and vegetables separately because some fruits give off a gas called ethylene glycol which quickens ripening and may cause spoilage in some vegetables. Also, some fruits absorb odors from vegetables making them unpalatable.
1. Those that you store in the refrigerator. Examples are apples (more than 7 days), apricots, blackberries, strawberries, cut fruit, cantaloupe, figs, honey dew, leafy vegetables, cabbage, carrots, beets, cauliflower, broccoli and sweet corn. Store fruits and vegetables in separate perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator drawer.
2. Those that you ripen at room temperature before storing in a refrigerator. Store them in a loosely closed brown bag to hasten ripening. Use them within 1-3 days in the refrigerator. Examples are avocado, kiwi, nectarines, peaches, pear, and plums.
3. Those that you store at room temperature only. Keep them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Examples are apples (less than 7 days), bananas, citrus fruits, unripe nectarines, pineapples, melons, peppers, tomatoes, basil (in water), cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, peppers, jicama, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
·Keep the green tops on strawberries during storage.
·Trim taproots from radishes before storing.
·To store asparagus in the refrigerator, stand a bunch in a jug of cold water.
·Cut and peel pineapple soon after purchase, then chill. Do not store whole pineapple in the refrigerator.
1. Safe Storage of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
2. Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Best Flavor
3. Safe Handling of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
Excitement and anticipation is in the air! Parents, students and teachers are probably all wondering how their new school year will start. Parents are usually preparing to purchase school supplies and uniforms, while teachers are gearing up to make their classrooms lively and fun. While students are anxiously waiting to find out who their new teachers will be and how many friends they will have in their new classes, do you think anyone has stopped to consider how to start each school day the healthy way? Starting back to school with a healthy start can provide many benefits for parents, students and teachers. Certainly, starting the day with breakfast is one of the greatest benefits of all. Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, but often it’s the least considered. Usually, parents, students and teachers are dashing through the morning off to their next task at hand without stopping to break–the-fast. Maybe you’re wondering what’s the big deal, it’s just breakfast. Well, breakfast matters! Breakfast provides us with the needed energy to start the day. It gives the body a metabolism boost by converting our food to energy. When breakfast is skipped we tend to overeat at lunch.Research has revealed that the older we get the more likely we are to skip breakfast. Therefore, consider your plan for breakfast beforehand:
References: www.choosemyplate.govwww.kidshealth.orgAmerican School Health Association
Snacking should be a planned part of our diets. Although snack foods provide some important nutrients, many are high in fat and sodium and low in other important nutrients.
Some people think that snacking is bad because they think of junk food when they think of snacks. Snacks should not be junk food. Instead, keep some healthy snacks like granola bars or an apple with you. When snack attacks strike, you can get rid of your hunger. Healthy snacks are packed with nutrients your body needs to grow strong and stay healthy. Does this mean that you can never eat a sweet or salty snack that you love? Of course not! It’s OK to eat junk food in moderation if you don’t eat it often or eat a lot of it at one time. Just make most of your snacks healthy foods!
Wow! Summer break is here and some children are tempted to stay inside from the heat and participate in sedentary activities such as surfing the Internet, texting friends, watching TV and movies and playing video games. Finding a balance of watching TV and getting physical activity is important for children to be healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 65.3% of children are not getting the recommended levels of physical activity that they need to be healthy.
Reference:K-State Research & Extension – Sedgwick County; Family Nutrition Program Newsletter
During cooking camp this week, our Smart Choices Chefs have been using fruit in many of the recipes. Incorporating fruit into any dish will make it light and refreshing for the summer, especially when paired with a few sprigs of mint. Each of the children were also provided with a mint plant. We reviewed a step by step outline of how to care for mint which I found on-line at www.patrickdepinguin.com. For one of our recipes, we walked right outside the church door and picked a few mint leaves.
Here is a great recipe you can try at home:
Yield: 12 servings, Serving size: ¼ cup
2 cups melon - honeydew, cantaloupe or watermelon (seeded & chopped, use one kind or a combo)
1 cup cucumber (peeled, seeded, and chopped)
¼ cup onion, red or white (chopped)
2 T cilantro or mint (fresh, chopped)
1 jalapeno (seeded and finely chopped)
¼ cup lime or lemon juice
1 T sugar, white or brown
1. In a medium size bowl, stir together all ingredients.
2. Taste and season with more lemon or lime juice, sugar if needed.
3. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve with grilled or broiled fish or chicken.
Per recipe: $1.67Per serving: $0.14
Caution: When handling hot peppers, the oils can cause burning and skin irritation. You can wear clean kitchen gloves or wash hands thoroughly after preparing. KEEP HANDS AWAY FROM EYES.
Montana State University Extension Service, Montana Extension Nutrition Education Program Website Recipes
There is no holiday quite like Labor Day, a day to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers. Further, it is one of the things we love about summer other than the good weather, cookouts, time for family and friends, fireworks and parades. Labor Day is a holiday loaded with fun. However, when we mention fun, the first thing that pops up in our mind is SAFETY.
What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning is one of the most common gastrointestinal ailments also known as foodborne illness. It is an illness caused by the consumption of contaminated food, bacteria, viruses or parasites. It can arise from improper handling, preparation, or food storage. Therefore, it is important to practice good hygiene before, during and after food preparation.
Food poisoning can be caused by toxins. Toxins are the chemical agents like the poison in certain types of mushrooms, fish or pesticides. They are dangerous and can cause a wide range of health problems.
What are the symptoms and signs of food poisoning?
Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headaches, abdominal pain, dizziness, and weakness. These symptoms may begin within hours of consuming the contaminated food and may last a day or even a week depending on the severity. The symptoms may vary from person to person depending on the contaminant and the amount of consumption.
What can be done to eliminate food poisoning?
1. Wash hands well before handling food
2. Use paper or cloth dishcloths instead of sponges
3. Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat foods
4. Store washed produce in different container other than original container.
5. Keep cold foods at 40 degrees or less
6. Keep hot foods at 140 degrees or more
7. Double bag meat and poultry to prevent leakage
8. Thaw meat and poultry in the refrigerator, not on the counter
9. Never eat frozen meat that has been thawed and refrozen
10. Check internal temperature of meat and poultry with a thermometer
11. Use a clean spoon every time you taste food
12. Refrigerate leftover food quickly
Play it safe this Labor Day - keep family and friends protected from the unwanted visitor, food poisoning!Resources:www.foodsafety.govwww.lifescript.com
by Monica LaBordeOkra is one of the most commonly grown garden vegetable in Louisiana. Because it grows throughout the hot summer, it is a favorite summer vegetable in the southern diet. In Louisiana, fresh okra is usually available until the first frost.
Nutritionally speaking, small, immature pods of okra are a good source of vitamin C, beta carotene or vitamin A, niacin, calcium, and iron. It is important to know that the vitamin C content does decrease as the pods increase in length and maturity. Okra is very low in calories. Ten (3 inch) pods have only 30 calories.
When choosing okra, choose the small to medium - size pods (2 – 4 inches). Handle okra gently. Do not stuff okra into bags because okra deteriorates quickly. You can buy fresh okra by the pound. Frozen okra is also available in grocery stores year round. One pound of okra yields 4 servings.
You can store okra in the refrigerator, or cook it promptly. For refrigerator storage, wash okra and let it drain. Then put it in the vegetable crisper or a storage bag in the refrigerator. When freezing okra, wash it thoroughly. Cut off stems, but do not open seed cells. Blanch in boiling water. To blanch, bring one gallon of water to a rolling boil in a large pan. Place a pound of prepared okra in a wire basket, metal colander, or cheesecloth bag. Immerse it in the boiling water. Put a lid on the pan and begin counting time:
Remove from boiling water, drain, and cool quickly in ice water or cold running water. Drain well and store in freezer bags in the freezer. Frozen okra may be stored up to a year in the freezer.
Enjoy okra this summer. Here is a recipe for okra and tomatoes, a popular recipe among southern cooks.
Select young, tender okra pods. Wash and cut off stems. Bring water to a boil, add okra and boil gently until tender (15 minutes). Drain and slice okra. Add sliced okra, tomatoes, onion, peppers and seasonings to a pan. Simmer uncovered 15 minutes. Makes about 4 servings. Each serving contains: 71 calories, 3.5 grams protein, 15.8 grams carbohydrates, 0.7 grams fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 grams fiber, and 313 mg sodium.
Type 2 Diabetes can affect anyone. However, if you are overweight, have been diagnosed with high cholesterol or high blood pressure, have celebrated your fortieth birthday, have close relatives with diabetes, have a low activity level and/or poor diet, you may be more likely to develop this disease.
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce any or enough of the hormone insulin. Insulin is needed to move glucose into cells, where it is stored and later used for energy. When glucose cannot enter the cells, extremely high levels of glucose build up in the blood. This glucose is often referred to as high blood sugar. High glucose levels in the blood causes the pancreas to produce more insulin. However, the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas cannot keep up with the body’s demand.
Specific symptoms of diabetes include: excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, slow healing of wounds, feet tingling or feeling numb, fatigue, dry and itchy skin and/or unexplained weight loss and increased appetite.
Whether you have been diagnosed with diabetes or have recognized several of the risk factors, one thing is certain - you must take control of your own health immediately. See your physician regularly. Follow a meal plan developed with the help of a dietitian. This meal plan will be based on appropriate portion serving sizes and will include the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, lower intake of fat and calories, increased intake of whole grain along with the consumption of low-fat or fat-free milk and dairy products. Develop and follow an exercise program under the guidance of your physician. If you are overweight, set goals to lose 10 percent of your total body weight and exercise 30-90 minutes five to seven days a week. Exercise should include moderate intensity aerobic activity such as swimming, walking or gardening.
As with any exercise program there are several safety tips a person with diabetes should follow. According to the American Dietetic Association, discuss recommended exercises with your physician and obtain his clearance for exercise to begin. Check your blood glucose before and after exercise and during exercise if your activity is 45 minutes or longer. Don’t exercise if your blood glucose is too high. If the blood glucose is 250 mg/dl or greater check for ketones. Don’t exercise if your blood glucose is too low. Eat a snack if your blood glucose is under 100 and wait for the blood glucose rise. Carry a convenient source of carbohydrate if you are at risk of low blood glucose. Wear diabetes identification. Stop exercising if you feel pain, lightheaded, or shortness of breath. Avoid strenuous exercise in extremely hot, humid or cold weather. Exercise indoors. Wear proper shoes for the activity to reduce the risk for blisters or other injuries. Check your blood glucose after exercise and monitor it for several hours thereafter. Drink plenty of fluid.
There are serious complications related to diabetes including heart disease, hypertension, retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy and amputation. If you experience any of these complications you may still be allowed to participate in moderate activities such as walking, gardening, swimming or biking and may even be able to participate in moderate lifting and stretching. Your physician will consider the stage and type of the complication and your medical history and then will discuss exercise possibilities with you. Follow the physician’s guidelines and take all prescribed medication as directed.
What better time than now for a summer time barbeque! While the Louisiana temperatures are soaring, now is a very important time to remember to keep our food products safe for consumption. This hot, humid weather provides prime conditions for bacteria growth and contamination which can cause foodborne illness. The United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service has some helpful barbequing tips to be sure your food products are staying fresh, safe, and delicious!
-From the Store, Home First: Be sure to take groceries straight from the store to your home to avoid letting food items sit in the heat.
-Thaw Safely: Use the refrigerator to safely and slowly thaw foods; using the microwave to quickly thaw for barbequing can also be done.
-Marinating: Marinate foods in the refrigerator to be sure the food temperatures stay within appropriate ranges.
-Transporting: To bring food from one place to another, be sure to use an insulated cooler to keep food fresh.
-Keep Cold Food Cold: Keep food refrigerated until right before you are going to use it.
-Keep everything clean: Be sure to have lots of clean utensils and platters to avoid contamination between raw meats and other foods.
-Cook food thoroughly: Make sure that all foods have been cooked thoroughly and at the right temperatures.
For more safe barbequing tips and information, check out the USDA’s FSIS website on Barbequing and Food Safety.
Happy barbequing! Sources of Information & Resources: USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, Barbeque and Food SafetyHome Food Safety Tips, Outdoor Dining
Try this recipe for cool and refreshing watermelon soup.4 cups seeded watermelon cubes 1/3 cup apple juice 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1 tablespoon honey
Process first 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Cover and chill soup for 1 hour. As a special treat, serve in watermelon cups, or a green bowl. ENJOY!
Pick a Good Watermelon - It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1. Look the watermelon over. You are looking for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents.2. Lift it up. The watermelon should be heavy for its size. Watermelon is 92% water; most of the weight is water.3. Turn it over. The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
How a Watermelon is Grown
You need three things to grow watermelon: sun, bees and water. Farmers generally grow watermelon in rows, 8-12 feet apart, in raised beds 4-12 inches high composed of fertilized sand or sandy loam. The tiny watermelon plants from a transplant nursery can be implanted in the beds. Honeybees must pollinate the yellow watermelon blossom. Even the sterile, seedless watermelon requires pollination in order to fruit. In a month, a vine may spread to as much as 6-8 feet. Within 60 days, the vine produces its first watermelons. The crop is ready to harvest within 3 months. The rind of a watermelon is not as tough as it looks, so it is still handpicked. Watermelon pickers look for a pale or buttery yellow spot on the bottom, indicating ripeness. Many watermelon pickers have their own tricks or hand-me-down methods; however, we look for the yellow belly ground spot just like the pickers do.
Where do Seedless Watermelons Come From
Seedless watermelons were invented over 50 years ago, and they have few or no seeds. When we say seeds, we are talking about mature seeds, the black ones. Oftentimes, the white seed coats where a seed did not mature are assumed to be seeds. But this isn’t the case! They are perfectly safe to swallow while eating, and don’t worry - no seeds will grow in your stomach. So, how are seedless watermelons grown? Chromosomes are the building blocks that give characteristics, or traits, to living things including plants and watermelons. Watermelon breeders discovered that crossing a diploid plant (bearing the standard two sets of chromosomes) with a tetrapod plant (having four sets of chromosomes) results in a fruit that produces a triploid seed. (Yes, it has three sets of chromosomes). This triploid seed is the seed that produces seedless watermelons! In other words, a seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid which is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds. This is similar to the mule, produced by crossing a horse with a donkey. This process does not involve genetic modification.
ReferencesInformation reposted with permission from the National Watermelon Promotion Board: Fun Facts & FAQ'S
It is important to watch the amount of sugar that you consume. A low-sugar diet helps keep weight down. A diet high in sugar contributes to tooth decay. Sticky or chewy sugary foods that stay on the teeth longer cause more problems than other sweets. Sugary foods eaten between meals are more likely to cause tooth decay than those eaten only at mealtime. Sugar is often hidden in foods that we eat. We need to become “label detectives!" Sugar is listed under carbohydrates on food labels. The amount of sugar contained in a food will be listed in grams. Four grams of sugar equal 1 teaspoon.
Sugars include white sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, and molasses. Here are a few examples of common foods and the amount of sugar contained in each:
Source: Smart Choices Curriculum
Did you know that there are many varieties of Heirloom Tomatoes?
I didn’t until I attended an agent training at Covey Rise Lodge, in Husser, LA which focused on heirloom tomatoes and problems/diseases which plague this plant. I always thought that "Heirloom" was just one type of tomato; I was pleasantly surprised to learn of all the varieties available. Here’s a little history: Heirlooms are derived from seeds which are generally more than 50 years old that have been passed down from generation to generation. Unlike hybrid tomato plants bred for resistance, these are grown for their uniqueness in both their appearance and flavor. They typically do not have the perfectly round, bright red appearance of the traditional hybrid tomatoes you find in the grocery store. They are commonly striped and asymmetrical in appearance; traits the general population may consider to be “ugly” in comparison to the traditional tomatoes. There are a multitude of varieties and at the agent training we were allowed to view the plants in the garden and later allowed to sample them in a taste test. It was quite interesting to see the variation in appearance, texture and taste. The colors ranged from light yellow to a dark green-black; the texture varied from watery to meaty and from very sweet to very acidic in flavor. Here are the varieties we sampled:
o Persimmon – light orange-yellow color, mild in flavor, sweet (one of my favorites)
o Hillbilly Potato Leaf
o Red Brandywine
o Prudens Purple
o Old German
o Mortgage Lifter – was a crowd favorite
o German Pink
o Brandywine Pink
o Black from Tula
o Persimmon – light orange-yellow color, mild in flavor, sweet (one of my favorites)
o Hillbilly Potato Leaf
o Red Brandywine
o Prudens Purple
o Old German
o Mortgage Lifter – was a crowd favorite
o German Pink
o Brandywine Pink
o Black from Tula
All tomatoes, including Heirloom tomatoes contain an antioxidant called Lycopene. However, the USDA reports that orange colored heirloom tomatoes may contain more lycopene than the red tomatoes. Lycopene is a carotenoid which gives the fruit its red color. Among its therapeutic benefits, Lycopene helps to reduce oxidation caused from exposure to damaging UV rays. This phytonutrient is destroyed when cooked, so eat these tomatoes when fresh. Fresh tomatoes should be stored at room temperature, however if you cut the tomato and do not eat all of it, the tomato will need to be wrapped and refrigerated. Tomatoes are also heart healthy! They help to reduce your overall cholesterol, your bad cholesterol (LDL), and may help reduce your risk of some cancers when eaten as part of a balanced diet and along with regular exercise.
Nutrition Facts on Tomatoes
Tips for Incorporating Tomatoes
In honor of June’s National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, I’m providing a simple yet delicious and nutritious recipe which I hope you enjoy!
Nathalie’s Favorite Sautéed Tomato and Squash Recipe
Ingredients2-3 tablespoons olive oil1 large clove garlic, minced½ large onion, diced1 pound small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch strips1 pound small yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch strips2 cups quartered tomatoes Dash of Italian seasoningSalt and pepper to taste
Heat large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle all of the vegetables with (salt-free) Italian seasoning. Add oil and garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant and just starts to turn golden. Next add diced onions and sauté until translucent. Increase the heat to high and add squash. Sauté about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until warm. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For additional information, visit:
There are at least 10 ways we as parents can eliminate some of the sweet treats that we give to our children. These sweet treats come in many forms such as sodas, sport drinks, energy drinks, juices and sweet treats or junk food.
1. Smaller portions – teach your children that giving them smaller portions can go a long way. Teach them how to share with other siblings or friends. Cut treats in half and save for later or another day. Use smaller bowls and plates to display food.
2. Sip smaller and smarter – instead of always giving sodas and sweet drinks full of sugars, give children more water and 100% juices or low-fat milk. Water eliminates the calories and is good for your child’s health.
3. Avoid check-out aisles that contain candy – believe it or not, there are some stores that have check-out aisles that contain no candy. Use these aisles to keep your child from asking for candy.
4. Avoid offering sweets to your children as a reward – for good behavior; reward your children with kind words, hugging or non-food items such as stickers or coloring books.
5. Use fresh fruits as your child’s dessert – serve your children fresh fruits, baked apples, pears, or a mixed fruit salad. Giving your children fresh fruits also helps them in the weight area.
6. Make their food look fun – use cookie shapes to cut the fruits and have your child help out in the process. It is sure to make them want to eat the fruit or food. Your children can make happy faces in their food and then eat the happy face piece by piece.
7. Encourage your children to create new and exciting snack foods – allow your children to create their own snack foods by giving them new foods to choose from such as whole-grain dried cereals.
8. Allow your children to investigate the cereal aisle – teach your children to read cereal labels and distinguish between low sugar and high sugar cereals.
9. Distinguish between treats and “treats” – avoid giving your children treats every day. Make it a special occasion for giving a treat. Even though your children may do something good every day, limit the treats. Your children may have picked up on the fact that when "I do something good I get a treat"– so your children make it a habit to do good deeds daily.
10. Don’t reward your children if they refuse to eat their meals – you should never replace sweet treats with food at mealtime if your children have not eaten.
ReferenceK-State Research & Extension – Sedgwick County; Family Nutrition Program Newsletter
Squash is native to America. The early settlers found native Indians growing the vegetable and using the yellow flowers of the vine for herbs. Although squash is generally cooked, the term “askuta squash” means eaten raw.
Squash comes in many colors, sizes, shapes and textures. Basically, they are divided into two groups: soft-shell or “summer squash” and hard-shell or “winter squash."
Yellow Crookneck squash has a curved neck, is light yellow in color and has a smooth skin. The color becomes deeper as it matures.
Yellow Straightneck squash is one of the best known summer squash. It is slender, somewhat bulb-shaped and has a straight or slightly curved neck. The skin is pale yellow and smooth.
Scallop (Patty-pan) squash is disc-shaped with scalloped edges. The flesh is green tinged with white. This squash is best when 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
Zucchini squash is dark green and greenish-white. It is long, straight and slender. This squash is best when 8 to 10 inches long.
Nutritionally, squash is a dieter’s delight, a good source of vitamins and minerals and low in calories. A half-cup of cooked diced squash is only 15 calories. Yellow and green squash are better sources of vitamin A than white squash.
Summer squash is harvested when immature and tender and is completely edible (eat skin, flesh and seeds). Soft-shell squash should be fresh in appearance, firm and fairly heavy for its size. The skin should be free from blemishes.
Store fresh, unwashed summer squash in a plastic vapor proof bag and place it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Squash can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days before using. Enjoy this squash casserole recipe.
4 pounds yellow squash, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup fat-free mayonnaise
2 tablespoon basil, chopped
1 teaspoon pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups breadcrumbs, divided
1 ¼ cups parmesan cheese, shredded and divided
3 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup crushed French fried onions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover squash and onion in water and boil in a Dutch oven for 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Drain. Combine squash mixture, cheddar cheese, next 5 ingredients, 1 cup breadcrumbs and ¾ cup parmesan cheese. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13 X 9 inch baking dish.
Stir together melted butter, French fried onions, remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs and ½ cup parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over squash mixture.
Bake at 350 degree for 35 to 40 minutes or until set. Enjoy!
Fruits and vegetables offer many benefits to your daily diet. They are low in calories and fat while filled with fiber and nutrients. Most Americans should eat at least 3 cups and for some, up to 6 cups of fruits and vegetables daily. Along with the key nutrients you will find that fruits and vegetables add taste, texture and color to the meal.
It is possible to enjoy fruits and vegetables without hurting your pocketbook. Purchase these foods when they are in season. They are plentiful, full of flavor, and usually less expensive. Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables may be less expensive than some fresh produce. When selecting canned fruit select those packaged in 100% fruit juices instead of heavy syrup.
Fresh fruits and vegetables do not have a long shelf life. Buy small amounts to prevent unnecessary waste. When purchasing fruits and vegetables, select those in their simplest forms. Pre-cut, pre-washed, ready-to-eat and processed are convenient, but are often more expensive.
A small backyard garden is a wonderful way to have fresh inexpensive vegetables and herbs while enjoying the outdoors. Contact your local AgCenter county agent for information on planting.
There are several creative ways to prepare fruits and vegetables for you and your family.
Consider grilling mushrooms, carrots, peppers, potatoes, squash, eggplant and zucchini. Lightly brush each with olive oil before placing on the grill. This keeps them from drying out. Grilled peaches, pineapple or mangos add great flavor to any cookout.
Add sautéed onions, peas or tomatoes to your favorite casserole to expand the flavor of the casserole.
When preparing a pasta dish add peppers, spinach, onions, or cherry tomatoes to your traditional tomato sauce. Vegetables provide texture and low-calorie bulk that help satisfy hunger.
When preparing a salad, toss in shredded carrots, strawberries, spinach, watercress, orange segments or sweet peas for added flavor, color and texture.
When eating out, instead of ordering a high sugar dessert consider eating fresh fruit from the salad bar. This is a wonderful way to cut calories.
Stir-frying is quick and fun. Toss some broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, mushrooms or green beans in a skillet for a quick easy addition to any meal.
When enjoying a wrap or sandwich consider adding lettuce, tomato, spinach or avocado to dress an everyday sandwich into a flavorful one.
When baking your favorite muffins add blueberries, peaches, pears or apples for different flavors.
For dessert, blend frozen strawberries, blueberries, bananas, or raspberries with 100% fruit juice and crushed ice for a delicious smoothie. What a healthy way to satisfy your need for sweets!
Omelets are great protein providers. Add onions, spinach, mushrooms or bell peppers to your eggs to increase nutrients found in vegetables.
Consuming ample servings of fruit and vegetables add the needed nutrients to our diets while promoting good health and possibly reducing the risk of certain diseases.
References: USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion “10 Tips for Veggies and Fruits” and “Cut Back on Your Kid’s Sweet Treats”
A few months ago I partnered with the 4-H leader from RJ Vial to schedule an after school workshop with 4-H members to make worm bins. The presentation included handouts on how to make a worm bin and hands-on materials for each member to create his or her own worm bin to take home. Their bins were made from very large plastic containers, with a layer of soil, shredded newspaper and worms. Tomorrow I will be going to a parish day camp showing them how to make their own worm bins using plastic show boxes. The boxes will allow 5 and 6 year olds an opportunity to see how the worms create compost from table scraps. I created a fact sheet for the campers to take home and share with their families. Here are some tips for creating your own worm bins.
· Start the worm-bed by shredding 1-inch strips of newspaper, enough to fill one third of the container.
· Spray the shredded strips of newspapers with water. Squeeze out the excess water. Place the fluffed-up wet newspaper into the container. The container should be one-half to three-fourths full.
· In a well-lighted area or outside on a sunny day empty the worms on top of the shredded newspaper. The worms will quickly go down into the bedding material because they don’t like the light. Keep the bedding moist, but not wet.
· Add a little soil over the bedding material. Worms need soil or sand to digest their food. Wait for about 7 days before adding other food to the worm bed. The worms need to become acclimated to their new environment for the first week.
· Almost any type of container can be used for housing worms. A medium sized worm box can process more than five pounds of food waste each week.
· Your worm bed should also have a tight fitting lid and holes drilled in the top for ventilation.
· Red worms are the best type of worm for composting food waste.
· Worms are easy to care for but they require food, moisture, oxygen, and a dark place to live.
· Every three months the worms should be harvested or separated from the castings.
· Feed your worms slowly at first. As the worms multiply, you can begin to add more food.
· Feed your worms a vegetarian diet - worms do not like dairy products, fats, meat, or oils.
· Worms also like breads and grains, cereal, coffee grounds and filter, fruits, tea bags, and vegetable scraps.
Ranked as the #2 most eaten berries in the U.S., blueberries have been a Native American tradition for hundreds of years…and for good reason! Blueberries were first gathered and utilized by Native Americans from bogs and forests around North America. Blueberries are actually one of the few fruit plants native to the North American region. To grow your own blueberries in Louisiana’s climate, it is best to plant them in the fall and winter seasons to keep them from being exposed to the extreme heat of the summer. Also, the Rabitteye Blueberry variety is your best choice for the Louisiana climate. For more information on home blueberry growing, the LSU AgCenter's Home Blueberry Production in Louisiana publication can be referenced. For harvesting blueberries, be sure that the blueberries are firm and circular.
Due to the incredibly high content of antioxidants in blueberries, this fruit has earned the title of a “superfruit.” Superfruits possess wonderful health benefits when consumed and should be incorporated into the diet on a daily basis. Some of the radical components of blueberries can be seen in the appearance alone. The high levels of antioxidants are partially derived from the same nutrients that give blueberries their vibrant purple-blue coloring, anthocyanins. Other responsible components include significant levels of vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, dietary fiber, and other phytonutrients such as resveratrol. Some of the benefits of consuming the marvelous blueberry superfruit include:
For a well-balanced diet, ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends 2 cups of fruit for a 2,000 calorie diet. One serving of blueberries would be approximately ½ cup per serving. They are delicious fresh, frozen, canned, and dried. However, to retrieve the highest nutritional value, blueberries should be eaten fresh. To get a little bit more creative with your blueberries, here are some ideas to test out:
Care should be taken when handling blueberries to keep from damaging them. Rinse them gently and pat dry. For more blueberry tips, facts, and recipes, check out the resources listed below!
ResourcesLSU AgCenter Home Blueberry Production in LouisianaThe World’s Healthiest Foods, search blueberries: www.whfoods.org.Blueberries, Little Blue Dynamos: www.blueberry.org Nutrition Self Data, search raw blueberries: nutritiondata.self.com
During the summer, we often find ourselves outside enjoying the beautiful days and pondering vacation time. Taking the time to plan summer vacations requires preparation and knowledge, especially when trying to consider the best family friendly summer vacation deals. However, while planning where to vacation, let’s not forget the importance of planning our beverages as well. Are you thinking what does a beverage have to do with my vacation? Well, if you actually take the time to consider your beverages you can save yourself excessive calories during those carefree days of summer vacation.
Remember, calories in equal calories out. If you are trying to avoid excessive calories, there is one important nutrient you should consume daily to stay hydrated even while on vacation or enjoying a staycation. Can you guess what that nutrient is? If your answer is water, you’re correct! If not, you’ve just gained new knowledge. Water is a nutrient that can often be considered a beverage if chosen, so “make the switch."
Reducing your intake of sugar sweetened beverages can help you to save excess calories. Did you know according to the American Heart Association, Americans are consuming approximately 71 pounds of sugar a year? That is quite a bit of sugar. Most of the sugar we consume comes from our beverages and sweets. Have you ever wondered how much sugar is actually in your beverage? If so, begin to get the facts by reading the nutrition facts label on your beverage container. Here’s a tip for calculating your sugar: 4 grams of sugar equal 1 tsp. or 1 cube of sugar. Therefore, if your beverage contains 39 grams of sugar and your serving size is one 12oz can, you would be consuming approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar per drink. Now what do you think about “making the switch?”
Whether this summer you’re planning a vacation or a staycation, take time to plan your drinks. Remember it will help you to avoid excessive calories. Relax and enjoy your summer with an ice cold beverage that soothes your taste and not your waist; so, pour yourself a tall glass of water and let the summer begin!
The foods you eat now can help you have a healthy heart all your life. Eating too much fat when you’re young can lead to heart problems as you grow older. Help your heart by making healthy food choices!
Fast food hamburger
Sliced turkey sandwich
Baked or broiled chicken
Fried apple pie
Large order of fries
Small order of fries
Source: Smart Choices Curriculum
Let’s talk about a hot, dry, lazy summer day. Kids are out of school, their routines are out of whack, and they lack things to do other than spend half of the day in a pool. Maybe you are trying to keep them from being bored by giving them something constructive to do.
Get out a picnic basket and go on a picnic. To sit and relax while enjoying the outdoors with family and friends is one of life’s greatest pleasures. A picnic creates the perfect setting for some family bonding. Healthy food, fresh air and fun are the treats that everyone should enjoy much more often.
When we talk about a picnic, one important issue comes to mind.
1. Pack your picnic basket with healthy snacks that are
2. Pack your picnic basket with ready to eat snacks
3. Pack your picnic basket with pre-packed snacks
Have you noticed the increase in advertisements promoting “gluten-free” products? Well, if you have, and are not exactly sure of what gluten is, then this month’s blog is for you! Gluten is a combination of two proteins (gliadin and glutenin) which provide elasticity to baked goods. Gluten is found naturally in wheat, rye, and barley and often in oats due to cross-contamination during processing. Gluten is also used in many other products as a stabilizer, binder, or thickener.
More and more major food producers are promoting their gluten-free products, and as a result U.S. consumers are buying more gluten-free products. Recent statistics show that nearly one-quarter of U.S. consumers have purchased gluten-free products. The general public often feels that if it is advertised, then maybe it is something they need. However, don’t jump on the bandwagon and start deleting gluten from your diet just yet. Eliminating gluten from your diet completely can cause a decrease in your intake of fiber, iron, zinc, folate, and niacin. Also, gluten-free products are often higher in fat - something to consider if you are thinking of eating gluten-free products as a means of weight loss. So, contrary to the advertising campaigns promoting the benefits of gluten-free products, the only people who really need to avoid gluten are those who are gluten sensitive or who have Celiac Disease.
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder which is sparked from eating these proteins (gliadin and glutenin). If left untreated, the villi of the small intestines can be damaged, thus causing a nutrient absorption problem. There are several million Americans with the disease, yet the majority of patients remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed due to the wide range of symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include gas, bloating, fatty stools, or fatigue, but there are reports of more than 300 different symptoms. Incredibly, some people with this disease show no symptoms at all. Because of the extreme variation in symptoms, blood work is usually the most reliable means of detecting nutrient deficiencies and diagnosing those suffering from this disease. For additional information about Celiac Disease, the symptoms, and the blood work needed to help diagnose and treat it, I recommend visiting the following website: www.celiac.org.
If you are gluten sensitive, or have Celiac Disease, make sure you carefully review product labels for the “gluten-free” tag. When in doubt, avoid processed foods and stick to fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. Here are a few common gluten-free alternatives to aid gluten-conscious consumers:
Courtesy of Kettle Cuisine and Chef Joseph Ascoli
Celiac Awareness Month 2012Getting Started - Celiac Disease & The Gluten-Free DietGluten Free Baking.mov
Flavonoids, an amazing array of over 6,000 different substances found in virtually all plants, are responsible for many of the plant colors that dazzle us with their brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red. The recognized dietary antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoid. However, recent studies have demonstrated that flavonoids found in fruits and vegetables may also act as antioxidants. Flavonoids are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties; they reduce inflammation, promote healthy arteries, and help fight aging by preventing and repairing cellular damage. Flavonoids may also protect against dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and some cancers.
To get your fill of flavonoids eat four servings of fresh fruit and five servings of vegetables every day. Tea, red wine, and dark chocolate also contain flavonoids - consumption of wine should be limited to a glass a day for women and two glasses a day for men. Limit chocolate to a couple of small squares, about an ounce.
There are many types of flavonoids, and their concentration in specific foods varies greatly, depending on how a product is grown and processed. Eating a diverse diet that regularly includes some of the following foods will provide you with a healthy helping of flavonoids: apples (flavonoids are in the skin), blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, capers, chocolate (dark, not milk) and cocoa, onions, strawberries, red grapes, red wine and tea (all kinds).
I love to make relishes out of different fruits and spices to put on my toast in the morning. I tried this flavonoid rich relish and just had to share the recipe with you. This cranberry-raspberry relish is easy to pull together. I also served it on crackers to the patrons at our farmers market.
· 1 package fresh cranberries
· 1/2 cup(s) granulated sugar
· 1/2 cup(s) crystallized ginger, minced
· 3 cup(s) raspberries, (2 pints) fresh or frozen (not thawed)
· Pulse cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
· Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in sugar and crystallized ginger.
· Gently stir in raspberries.
· Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to let the flavors combine.
Information for this blog was attained from: www.usda.gov
Author: Monica LaBorde
This year marks the 20th anniversary of National Salad Month. Warm weather is here, so the time is right to enjoy a crisp, cool salad.
It’s hard to beat a salad for versatility. Salads can be an appetizer before the meal or served as the main event. It can be bursting with healthy veggies or sweetened up with fresh fruit.
The first thing to take a look at is the base of your salad. You can choose from so many different varieties of lettuce. You can always go with iceberg, but in terms of nutritional value, it’s not your best choice. Romaine and spinach pack more flavors and are higher on the healthfulness scale.
Fresh, red-ripe tomatoes are probably one of the most popular of all salad ingredients, but don’t be shy when it comes to adding other vegetables like zucchini, avocado, red bell pepper, purple onion or green beans. They add a big burst of flavor and color.
It’s easy to make a delicious, healthy meal by topping crisp salad greens with protein. Roasted chicken, eggs, shrimp or crabmeat make wonderful salad partners. You can even create a Tex-Mex style taco salad with ground beef, cheeses, peppers and salsa.
If you are making a salad, don't forget that one of the most fun things to do is to make your own dressing.
Since this month is National Salad Month, take some time to think about what you really want out of your salad, whether that is something as simple as a tomato and mozzarella salad or something altogether more nutritious that includes three kinds of lettuce and two kinds of protein.
Here is a salad you can mix ahead of time. The flavors have time to blend and there is no last minute fuss.
In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Mix the remaining ingredients in a separate small bowl, mixing well. Pour over vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Sources: www.healthyheartprogram.com www.foodchannel.com
Are you ready to spend more time with your grandchildren since they are out of school for a few months? With grandchildren’s visits come the challenges of feeding them. Some are picky eaters while others only like fast foods. Some think candy and chips are main food groups while others really enjoy healthy snacks. Our goal as grandparents should be to provide healthy snacks that include more fruits and vegetables. Healthy foods can easily be kid-friendly when you provide healthy ingredients and let children help with preparation based on their age and skills. Children often try foods they avoided in the past if they helped prepare them.
Consider making your own granola by mixing together ready-to-eat cereal, dried fruit and nuts. Place in sandwich bags and allow children to help themselves.Invite children to make their own fruit kabobs by providing pretzel sticks, grapes, and cubed cheese.Spread peanut butter on sliced apples or bananas.
Top low-fat yogurt with crunchy granola and sprinkle with blueberries and enjoy.Blend low-fat milk, crushed ice, strawberries and a banana for thirty seconds for a delicious smoothie. If you freeze the fruit first then you can skip the ice!
Make mini sandwiches with tuna or egg salad, or peanut butter. Use your favorite cookie cutters to make fun shaped sandwiches.Children love dips. Whip up a quick dip for veggies with yogurt and seasoning such as herbs or garlic. Serve with raw vegetables like carrots, celery, cauliflower or broccoli. Chunks of fruit such as melons, pineapple, apple slices or grapes dipped in a vanilla yogurt and cinnamon dip is a hit with children.
Set up a pizza-making station in the kitchen. Use whole-wheat English muffins, bagels, or pita bread as the crust. Have tomato sauce, low-fat cheese, and cut-up vegetables. Let children choose their own favorites. Pop the pizza into the oven to warm.
Limit the amount of foods and beverages that contain added sugar your children eat and drink. Don’t buy them! Sweet treats and sugary drinks have a lot of calories and are low in nutrients. Most added sugars come from sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, juice drinks, cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy and other desserts. When serving sweets use smaller bowls and plates, and serve small portions.
Avoid soda and other sweet drinks as they contain a lot of sugar and are high in empty calories. Offer water, 100% fruit juices or fat-free milk when children are thirsty.
Never offer food as a reward. Use words, hugs, and stickers to make them feel special.
Serve yummy frozen 100% juice bars instead of high-calorie desserts. Apples, pears, grapes and pineapple make a wonderful fruit bowl.
Treats are great once in a while. And isn’t that what grandparents are for? Limit sweet treats to special occasions instead of serving them every day. Limit screen time to no more than two hours a day. This includes television and computer games. Spend more time being active.
Encourage physical activities by having the grandchildren plan some outside time. Walk, run, bike and play with the grandchildren. Set an example by being physically active and using safety gear like bike helmets.
You are the most important influence on your grandchildren. You can do many things to help your grandchildren develop healthy habits for life. Offering a variety of foods helps children get the nutrients they need from every food group. They will also be more willing to try new foods and to like a larger variety of foods. When grandchildren develop a taste for many types of foods, it’s easier to plan meals. Cook together, eat together, play together, talk together, and make visits enjoyable learning times where memories are made.
References: USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion “Kid-Friendly Veggies and Fruits” and American Dietetic Association Eat Right “25 Healthy Snacks for Kids”
“The Stinking Rose,” also known as garlic, is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been around approximately 5,000 years. Garlic donned this nickname due to its belonging to the Lily, or Allium, family and its pungent smell. Onions, leeks, and chives are all part of the Allium family as well. The most ideal months for planting garlic are September and October for a May and June harvest. Garlic must be exposed to a minimum of two months of low temperatures (32-50 degree F) to develop properly. Some of the most popular varieties of garlic planted here in Louisiana include Silverskin, Creole, and Elephant Tahiti. A good indication that your garlic is ready to be harvested is when the tops of the plants turn yellow. After harvesting, the garlic bulbs must be dried out for 5-7 days out of direct sunlight before using.
Garlic has been said to ward off sickness, plague, and vampires, and to bring good luck and good health. We may never know the truth behind the folklore but the health benefits of garlic are for certain! Garlic is a rich source of vitamin C, manganese, and vitamin B6. It is also a good source of calcium, selenium, and phosphorus. So what does this translate to in health benefits?
-Very strong anti-inflammatory effects across all body systems-Decreasing the risk of all cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels-Decreasing your risk of developing bacterial or viral infections-Helping to prevent the development of cancer-Improving iron metabolism in the body, increasing circulation
In addition to all of these wonderful health benefits, garlic has been a staple of some of our most delicious culinary treats for thousands of years! For maximum flavor and health benefits, garlic should be purchased fresh or home grown. The best preparation method is to chop or crush the garlic before adding heat. This is how you can maintain the highest levels of nutrients from the garlic. Here are some ideas for garlic preparation:
-Puree fresh garlic, canned garbanzo beans, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a quick and easy hummus.-Add garlic to sauces and soups.-Mash together roasted garlic, potatoes, and olive oil for fresh mashed potatoes. -Bake garlic in olive oil until soft to be spread on meats, crackers, etc. -Check out this creamed spinach recipe!
Recipe Yield: 4 servingsServing Size: ½ cup Ingredients: -1 (10 ounces) package of frozen spinach, thawed-1/2 cup evaporated skim milk-4 cloves of garlic, chopped-1 ½ teaspoons dried minced onion
Directions: 1. In a blender or food processor, blend spinach and milk until smooth.2. Add garlic and dried onion, mix well.3. Pour into medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.4. Enjoy!
Sources of Information:Self Nutrition Data, Search for Garlic, RawThe World’s Healthiest Foods, GarlicLSU AgCenter Louisiana Home Vegetable Gardening, GarlicLSU AgCenter Smart Choices Recipe BookLSU AgCenter Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide
Physical activity is movement that uses energy, like walking, pushing a baby stroller, gardening, etc. To get the health benefits, however, physical activity should be of moderate or vigorous intensity. When you can talk but not sing during an activity, then your body is working at moderate intensity level; for example, walking fast (about 3 ½ miles per hour), water aerobics, dancing, tennis doubles, and pushing a lawn mower. When you are unable to say more than a few words without pausing for breath during an activity then your body is working at a vigorous intensity level; for example, jogging, swimming laps, playing basketball, heavy yard work, and riding a bike fast. Most health benefits are obtained from combining moderate and vigorous activities. Regular physical activity is important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and everyone should avoid being inactive. Some health benefits of physical activity-
1. Helps maintain a healthy weight.
2. Helps build and maintain bones, muscles and joints.
3. Helps reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
4. Helps to control blood pressure.
5. Reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
6. Look and feel better, stay well and independent.
To get fit we need 3 types of exercises- aerobic, anaerobic and flexibility exercises.
Aerobic activities make your heart beats faster and work up a sweat.
Anaerobic or weight-bearing activities increase muscle tone and build new muscle; more muscle helps burn more calories. Examples are: lifting weights, push- ups, sit-ups, leg and knee lifts,
Flexibility activities enhance physical stability and flexibility so you can keep moving- yoga, gentle stretching, martial arts, dancing etc.
Consult your doctor before you begin any exercise regimen, especially if you are suffering from any chronic disease. To help increase daily physical activity:
-Set an achievable goal and commit to it regularly.
-Do activities that you enjoy- partner with a friend, coworker or join an exercise class.
-Brisk walking in bouts of 10 minutes or longer is a good way to begin; walking is easy, safe and does not require any special equipment.
-Walk the dog, walk before breakfast and after dinner or do both.
-Do housework instead of hiring someone to do it.
-Be active with your family: hiking, cycling, soccer, yard work.
-Use stairs instead of the elevator; park farther away from shopping mall entrances and walk.
In 2008 the US Department of Health and Human Services released a set of physical activity recommendations for Americans 6 years and older: Children and Adolescents (aged 6–17): at least 1 hour (60 minutes) or more of physical activity every day; Adults (aged 18–64): at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day; Older Adults (aged 65 and older): should follow the adult guidelines. If this is not possible due to limiting chronic conditions, older adults should be as physically active as their abilities allow. For details about recommendations for disabled youth and adults, activity levels, duration and intensity visit the CDC website.
The Big 8 for Health
1. Eat Fruit - You need 2 cups a day.
2. Eat Vegetables - You need 2 ½ cups a day.
3. Drink Milk - You need 3 cups a day.
4. Eat Whole Grains - Try them. You’ll like them. Oatmeal, brown rice and whole-wheat bread are whole-grain foods.
5. Get Your Protein - That’s meat, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts.
6. Be a Detective - When a food is mixed, make sure it doesn’t contain a lot of added sugar, sodium and fat. One way to do that is to read labels.
7. Be Safe With Food - Wash your hands, fruits and vegetables. Separate meat and eggs from fruits and vegetables when preparing. Keep foods cold or keep them hot. Make sure meats and eggs are fully cooked before you eat them.
8. Get Some Exercise - There are lots of ways for you to get more exercise. You need 30-60 minutes of physical activity each day.
Source:Smart Choices Curriculum.
Did you know that May is National High Blood Pressure Education month? Well, it is and it is important to be aware of what high blood pressure is and how it can affect your health. High blood pressure is very common among many Americans regardless of race, gender or age. However, African Americans are at greater risk and suffer with the disease at a higher rate. High blood pressure can damage the heart, kidneys and brain if not managed properly. It is considered a silent killer because sometimes there aren’t any warning signs or symptoms of this disease.
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries and it fluctuates throughout the day. When blood pressure is considered high is when it remains elevated. It causes the heart to work harder. If the blood pressure remains high, it can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. Another name for high blood pressure is hypertension.
In an effort to maintain healthy blood pressure, it is important to know your numbers. Blood pressure is read in two numbers, the systolic and diastolic pressure. The systolic pressure is the first and higher of the two numbers; it measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The diastolic pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. Blood pressure that is less than 120 HG mm (systolic) and less than 80 HG mm (diastolic) is considered a normal blood pressure. On the other hand, blood pressure that is 140 HG mm or greater (systolic) and 90 HG mm or greater (diastolic) is considered high. Charts such as those provided by the American Heart Association or the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute can provide a guide to knowing the ranges and categories for blood pressure levels.
There are some things that cannot be controlled to reduce risk factors for having high blood pressure, those being family history, race, gender and age. However, there are some things that can be controlled in an effort to maintain healthy blood pressure levels; those are as follow:
The experience of caring for an aging parent should be a time for siblings to mutually support one another; however, this is not always the case! The pressure of such responsibility can lead to strained relations and, at times, some conflict.
Friction may occur when siblings are in denial over a parent’s condition. A sibling may not live near the aging parent and does not see the change in the health of the parent declining. Another sibling may not accept the reality of the parent’s declining health because the sibling is protecting himself from facing the eventual death of the loved one. The more active sibling may become bitter or angry.Most often, friction occurs because the active sibling feels there is unequal division of care giving duties. This may lead the overburdened caregiver to feel frustrated and resentful and other siblings to feel uninformed and left out. This a time when families should come together and deliver the best quality care possible for the parent. Sibling feelings should be expressed and heard honestly and directly. Each sibling should know that their help is needed, wanted and appreciated. Allow siblings to identify a specific task in which they are comfortable and able to provide. Have a list of tasks that involve the care of the aging parent. Divide tasks according to individual abilities, current life pressures and personal freedoms. One brother may be available to take the parent to most doctor visits; a sister may volunteer to do the weekly grocery shopping while yet someone else may prepare a meal twice a week. If a sibling is unable to help with care, he may provide funds to hire a caregiver allowing the family member who is caring for the parent to have an afternoon or evening off.
The main caregiver should express appreciation to family members for any help provided and must also remember that everyone will not provide the care and assistance exactly alike. It is the responsibility of the main caregiver to keep all family members informed regarding the parent’s condition. Listen to everyone’s suggestions and expect differences in opinions. Try to respect other’s perceptions and find opportunities to compromise.
If communication is contentious, arrange a family meeting that includes an outside facilitator such as a friend, religious leader, social worker or counselor.
Try to understand the dynamics of family care among other siblings. Forgive those who refuse to get involved. Work through any negative emotions and take care of yourself. Remember: if you are not healthy, you cannot take care of someone else!Reference: FCA National Center on Caregiving (Spring 2004), Caregiving and Sibling Relationships: Challenges and Opportunities.
Are you looking for a fun outdoor activity for you and your family this weekend? Planting herbs is simple enough for everyone and provides quick and bountiful results. Herbs, not to be confused with spices, are usually leaves and are less pungent than spices (roots, seeds, flowers, bark). There are many herbs to choose from, but don’t let the large selection bog you down. Just think of the seasonings you use regularly in the dishes you prepare and go from there!
Herbs can be planted and kept indoors near a window, outside in a planter, or in the ground. When deciding on a location, it’s best to plant them as close to your kitchen as possible, so you can simply walk outside and grab some herbs to season your dinner (also a great way to reduce salt). To sow the seeds, only plant them about 1-3 times as deep as the size of the seed, which isn’t very deep. The most important aspect of having an herb garden is to provide adequate drainage. Most herbs grow to maturity within 4-8 weeks with adequate sunlight, but check the planting guide for further instructions. With harvesting any herb, it is important that you pick no more than 1/3 of the plant at a time which is generally just a few leaves. Once you have picked the herbs you want to use for the evening, carry them inside and wash under cool water and dry with a paper towel. Remove the leaves from the stems, roll the herbs together and chop. For a finer chopped herb, pile again and re-chop. For the best flavor, use immediately, but they can also be frozen or dried for later use.
Some of my favorite herbs are scallions (green onions), basil and rosemary, but you can choose some of your favorites to plant. I love the mild onion flavor of scallions and how they provide a crunchy texture. I sprinkle it on top of just about everything: salad, omelettes, crawfish étoufée, and baked potatoes. They grow tall and straight and esthetically would do well as the medium height plant in your garden. Basil is sweet and complementary to fresh sliced tomatoes or tomato based dishes. Basil grows a little lower to the ground and would make a great border plant. You may begin picking the leaves after 6 weeks of planting. Basil is delicious whether eaten fresh or dried. Rosemary is drought tolerant but also hardy in cool climates. It is high in iron, calcium and B6. Rosemary has a heavenly aromatic quality and has a distinct flavor that goes well with poultry, pork, and lamb; however, I also enjoy baking it into my breads and sprinkling it over my steamed veggies.
Herbs also provide a little lagniappe – they freshen the air, perfumes, and soaps and they also repel pests!
Container gardening is a great way to grow your own nutritious and delicious fruits and vegetables if you lack the space to plant in-ground. It allows you to still grow produce if you live in an apartment or house with no yard, if you rent and your landlord will not permit you to break ground, or if you simply just don’t have the means to plant in ground. Also, containers are easily moveable to sunnier areas or closer to water if needed.
Almost any vegetable can be grown in a container but just like growing vegetables in-ground, container vegetables need to be in a sunny location for 6-8 hours a day. Place containers where they can drain freely. The size of the container makes all the difference of what can be grown and how well the plant will grow. Choosing the appropriate size container for the vegetable you wish to grow is important because you want the roots to be able to develop nicely without being restricted. To ensure that your vegetables do well, they need a good supply of food and water. If you allow your containers to dry out, the plant is more likely to bolt - go to seed. Remember that too much water can be just as damaging as too little water.
Choose a good quality potting mix that will drain well. One thing to remember about container gardening is that it will need to be watered more than in-ground gardens. This is because soil in the containers tend to dry out quicker than in-ground. To keep moisture in the soil of your containers, cover the soil with some mulch. If you choose to use a fertilizer, make certain to read the label for proper application.
Vegetables that have been known to do well in containers are smaller and dwarf varieties, for example, patio or bush varieties of tomatoes. Try growing herbs! Not only are they easy and grow well in containers, but you can use them to season your food instead of adding extra salt to your meals. Other vegetables that tend to do well are carrots, cucumbers, onions, leaf lettuce, peppers, radishes, spinach, and a number of others. Because of cucumbers vining growth habits, they will need a bit more space. Try placing a trellis behind the container so they will be able to climb as they grow. Also, when growing carrots, make sure your container is deep enough to suit the average length of the variety you choose. The seed packages will state the size that the particular variety will grow to, so make sure to plan accordingly.
You can use just about anything that will hold soil for your container garden. Many people enjoy recycling different items for planting in such as old tires, old bathtubs, buckets, plastic bottles, and I’ve even seen people use old boots for herbs. As long as it will hold soil and has adequate drainage, and of course is non-toxic, then it can be used. I’ve recently been quite interested in trying to grow some vegetables in hanging baskets for a vertical garden. I’ve seen a number of people grow cherry tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and lettuce in hanging baskets and not only did they produce well, but they looked very beautiful. It’s also a great use of space.
There are several commercial containers on the market, but before running out to purchase them, do a little research and find out if they are suitable for your needs. Earthbox® is one type of container for gardens that I found very interesting and I plan on building to test in my own personal garden. Earthbox® seems to be a great way to grow vegetables in a container if you forget to water your plants enough, or you simply do not have time, but still want to grow nutritious fruits and vegetables. That’s because they are self-watering and will only need to be filled up occasionally. Earthbox® contains a water reservoir at the bottom of the container with wicking chambers. Wicking chambers are perforated containers that sit in the water reservoir filled with soil so that the roots can pull up, or wick, the water as it is needed. More soil is added on top of the water reservoir and wicking chambers and then you are ready to plant. There is a tube that extends to the water reservoir for filling and a weeping hole on the side to prevent overfilling. You can purchase them or find instructions online to make your own. Remember that gardening is a great physical activity and a great way to bring your family together to have fun!Resource: http://www.earthbox.com/
Author: Monica LaBordeIt is time for freshly picked Louisiana strawberries again. You will begin to see vendors selling flats of berries out of the back of their trucks along the highways. Fresh strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and are naturally low in calories. One cup of fresh strawberries provides almost twice the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C, yet only contains 55 calories
When choosing fresh strawberries, select bright, shiny, clean berries with full solid red color. If the container has red stains, chances are the berries are overripe or have been crushed. Since berries are perishable, hurry home with them. Sort out damages or decaying berries. Spread berries in a flat container, cover loosely and refrigerate. Wash berries just before using them.
There are so many ways to serve strawberries. Try this recipe for Strawberry Bread. It is a recipe that I am sure you will keep among your favorite recipes.
Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add eggs and oil, stirring only until ingredients are moist. Stir in strawberries, pecans and food coloring. Spoon batter into two 8-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees about one hour or until bread tests done. Turn out on a rack to cool. Strawberry bread loaves can be stored in the freezer for later use. Be sure to wrap them in vapor-proof bags.
Reference: LSU AgCenter publication “It's Strawberry Time”
Snap beans, green beans, or string beans…no matter which name you prefer, they are one and the same and in season! Green snap beans are categorized into two different groups, bush or pole beans, based on growth characteristics. If the bean plant needs support to grow, they are classified as pole beans; if the beans can grow on their own without added support, they are classified as bush beans. Spring and fall crops can be planted but the spring crop generally yields larger quantities. Also, it should be noted that the fall snap beans, although lesser in quantity, are often of a better quality than the spring beans. In Louisiana, Provider and Contender are some of the recommended varieties for bush snap beans and Kentucky Blue and McCaslin are some of the best varieties to grow for pole snap beans. Snap beans should be picked when they reach a length of 4-5 inches long and before the developing seeds begin to bulge on the bean. They should also snap when broken to indicate turgor and freshness of the bean.
The nutritional quality of snap beans is high due to a number of reasons:
Snap beans are found to be a good source of some B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and some phytonutrients (lutein, zeaxathin, beta-carotene, etc.). They are also considered a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and manganese. Here are some of the benefits of consuming snap beans:
Here are some ideas on how to incorporate snap beans into your daily diet:
Recipe Yield: 4 servingsServing Size: 1 cup
Ingredients: 1 can (16 ounces) green beans, no salt added, drained2 cups cooked pasta (elbow or macaroni or other type of short pasta)1/2 cup chopped green onion1/2 cup shredded cheese3 tablespoons vegetable relish2 tablespoons vegetable oil1/4 teaspoon garlic powder1 teaspoon mayonnaise, light1/2 teaspoon mustard1 teaspoon basil (optional)
Directions:1. Combine beans, pasta, onions, and cheese in a large bowl.2. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over vegetables and pasta. Stir gently.3. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.4. Enjoy!
Sources of information:LSU AgCenter: Louisiana Vegetable Planting GuideLSU AgCenter: Louisiana Home Vegetable GardeningSelf Nutrition Data, Search raw snap beansPower your Diet, Search green bean nutrition factsLSU AgCenter Smart Choices Recipe Book
You can use the American Dietetic Association food exchange lists to check out serving sizes for each group of foods and to see what other food choices are available for each group of foods.
Vegetables contain 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate. One serving equals:
Cooked vegetables (carrots, broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, etc.)
Raw vegetables or salad greens
If you’re hungry, eat more fresh or steamed vegetables.
Fat-Free and Very Low-Fat Milk contain 90 calories per serving. One serving equals:
Milk, fat-free or 1% fat
Yogurt, plain nonfat or low-fat
Yogurt, artificially sweetened
Very Lean Protein choices have 35 calories and 1 gram of fat per serving. One serving equals:
Turkey breast or chicken breast, skin removed
Fish fillet (flounder, sole, scrod, cod, etc.)
Canned tuna in water
Shellfish (clams, lobster, scallop, shrimp)
Cottage cheese, nonfat or low-fat
Beans, cooked (black beans, kidney, chick peas or lentils): count as 1 starch/bread and 1 very lean protein
Fruits contain 15 grams of carbohydrate and 60 calories. One serving equals:
Apple, banana, orange, nectarine
Fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries)
Fresh melon cubes
Jelly or jam
Lean Protein choices have 55 calories and 2–3 grams of fat per serving. One serving equals:
Chicken—dark meat, skin removed
Turkey—dark meat, skin removed
Salmon, swordfish, herring
Lean beef (flank steak, London broil, tenderloin, roast beef)*
Veal, roast or lean chop*
Lamb, roast or lean chop*
Pork, tenderloin or fresh ham*
Low-fat cheese (with 3 g or less of fat per ounce)
Low-fat luncheon meats (with 3 g or less of fat per ounce)
4.5% cottage cheese
* Limit to 1–2 times per week
Medium-Fat Proteins have 75 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving. One serving equals:
Beef (any prime cut), corned beef, ground beef**
Whole egg (medium)**
Tofu (note this is a heart healthy choice)
** Choose these very infrequently
Starches contain 15 grams of carbohydrate and 80 calories per serving. One serving equals:
Bread (white, pumpernickel, whole wheat, rye)
Reduced-calorie or "lite" bread
¼ (1 oz)
Rice, brown or white, cooked
Barley or couscous, cooked
Legumes (dried beans, peas or lentils), cooked
Corn, sweet potato, or green peas
Baked sweet or white potato
Popcorn, hot air popped or microwave (80% light)
Fats contain 45 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving. One serving equals:
Oil (vegetable, corn, canola, olive, etc.)
Reduced-fat margarine or mayonnaise
Lite cream cheese
Stuffed green olives
Printed with permission from the NHLBI Health Information CenterSource: Based on American Dietetic Association Exchange Lists
Depending on where you live, there may still be snow on the ground and bare trees overhead. But trust me – spring is all around you. The natural world is waking up and the changing weather provides exciting opportunities for outside activities.
1. Plant A GardenApril is prime planting season: the temperatures are finally milder and it’s exciting to be outside, digging in the soil with your kids. If you have a yard, start a perennial garden. If you have a balcony, a stoop, a kid-safe rooftop, or even a sunny windowsill, go ahead and buy some plants with the kids and make a lovely container garden. Containers are great for growing vegetables and herbs too. Sprinkle lettuce seeds, (e.g. mesclun mix) on top of soil in a container, cover with a half inch of soil, water daily in the sun, and in two to three weeks you’ll have salad for your dinner! If you start herb seeds inside on a sunny windowsill, in a month you’ll have seedlings for a Mother’s Day gift!
2. Do Some Spring Cleaning
Check your shelves and closets and even the garage for toys and clothing that the kids have outgrown. You can get rid of these items with a fun outdoor yard or stoop sale, and the kids can help by making price tags and greeting neighbors who stop by, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. They may even want to make a lemonade stand! Anything that doesn’t sell can be donated to a charitable organization.
3. Bounce It! One Ball Three Ways
Use one bouncy ball to play four square, then bocce ball, then bowling. Do four square, draw in chalk a grid of four squares; players stand in a square and bounce the ball to each other. For bocce ball, use an object as a target and see who rolls the ball the closest to it. For bowling, set out tall plastic cups or recycled water bottles and try to knock them over.
4. Stop By the Park On Your Way Home
Another routine to get out of the house that’s easy to remember, is to stop by the park on your way home with the kids. Bring a snack along or pick up sandwiches before hand for picnic dinner. Keep a picnic blanket in your car and you’ll have everything you need for dinner, play and homework outside until the sun goes down.
5. Eat Outside!
Do you dream of dining al fresco? Why not enjoy eating outside more often? It’s as easy as a picnic blanket or using that patio furniture that is sitting outside your door. In the morning, have your cup of coffee or breakfast outside. As the weather changes, you can accommodate the changes too: an umbrella over the table in the rain, a fan for a breeze in warm weather, a citronella candle for mosquitoes.
Reference: Cohen, Rebecca P. Fifteen minutes outside: 365 ways to get out of the house and connect with your kids. 2011.
How many times have you attempted to read a nutrition facts label and felt as if “you just didn’t understand it?” If this has ever happened to you, well, you’re certainly not alone. Did you know that over 50% of consumers worldwide struggle to understand nutritional facts labels? I’ve even heard the statement "if you can understand a nutrition facts label, then you must be a genius.” In spite of the challenges, there are simple steps to understanding the nutrition facts label.
Let’s begin with what’s on the label:
Start with the serving size and move downward. Make certain you pay close attention to the product specific information.
Serving Size - identifies the number of servings per package. It may be reflected in units such as cups or pieces, followed by a metric amount or number of grams. The size of the serving tells us the number of calories, amount of each nutrient, and daily value (%DV) of a food. It should be used to compare a serving size to how much you ate.
Amount of Calories- If you’re looking to maintain or control your weight this part can help. The amount of calories is found on the left side, while the right side lists the number of calories per serving from fat. Remember to balance calories in with calories out.
Limit these Nutrients- this is a great indicator for identifying foods that are too high in fat, cholesterol, or sodium. Your goal for these should be to remain below the 100% DV for each nutrient.
Get enough of these Nutrients- many Americans are consuming low amounts of dietary fiber, vitamin A, C, calcium, and iron in their diets. Eating an adequate amount of these nutrients can help to improve your health and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.
Percent (%) Daily Value- what does it actually mean? When you see the %DV it is a recommended intake level that should be consumed or should not be consumed. It can be used to help you determine whether a serving of food provides a small or large amount of a particular nutrient. The DV can also provide you with information pertaining to how a serving of a particular food item fits into your daily diet.
The higher the percentage the more of a particular nutrient you’re receiving. Foods that are low in a nutrient will provide you with less than 5% of the DV and foods that are high will provide 20% or more of the DV.
Footnote with Daily Values (DVs) - why does the footnote provide another Daily Value percentage? This Daily Value percentage statement must be placed on all food labels unless the package is too small. The footnote DVs still focus on the nutrients we must watch, but this one includes specific recommended levels of intake for a person on a 2,000 or 2,500 calorie diet.
Ingredients List – here are the clues to what’s really in the package. Here is a tip for you. The items in the package are listed from the largest amount to the smallest amount by weight. So if you are targeting foods low in salt and your first ingredient listed is salt that means the item is high in salt.
Remember, understanding the nutrition facts label is vital to using the information effectively and easily. Building label reading skills can help you to make better food choices that ultimately contribute to a healthier diet. If you’re interested in gaining more information pertaining to understanding and using nutrition facts labels, visit www.fda.gov and join the campaign to help others learn how to effectively use nutrition facts labels.
Reference:www.fda.gov -How to Understand Nutrition Facts Labels
Gardening is one of those past-times that, I personally, enjoyed sharing with my grandmother as I was growing up. She taught me everything from pruning roses, vegetable gardening, drying flowers for potpourri, and I believe that’s why I have such a strong passion for the outdoors and growing food. I definitely attribute those experiences as to why I love eating my fruits and vegetables! For me, there’s nothing like a tomato and cucumber salad fresh from the garden, or picking fresh wild blackberries to make a cobbler on a beautiful spring day. Being exposed to that as a child has shaped my views about eating healthy and I enjoy teaching and showing others not only the importance of eating healthy, but that you can grow your own healthy food at home.I believe that if youth and adults alike are taught the relationship between nutrition and gardening and have hands-on experiences doing so they will be more likely to have an appreciation for it and also be encouraged to live a healthy life by consuming healthy foods.
National Gardening Month is an excellent time to participate in gardening and even a chance to get involved and learn more about being healthier too! How can YOU participate in National Gardening Month? Here are just a few ideas about how you can get involved.
1) Plant a flower or vegetable garden:You do not have to be an expert to start and maintain a successful garden. You just have to provide plants with adequate care. Try It. You might end up loving it! You can start small and try growing some herbs.
2) Volunteer at a local school or community garden:You can participate in National Gardening Month even by donating your time. Your local school may have a 4-H Club or be participating in the Smart Choices nutrition program and could use help maintaining a garden.
3) Donate your excess garden supplies to a local school or church garden:We all have things that somehow accumulate in a shed or storage unit that we might have forgotten about. Why not go through those items and donate what is not being used or supplies you do not need. This can be anything from shovels, flower pots or containers, lumber that can be used to build a raised bed or a trellis, seeds, or even gloves! Remember: recycled items make great container gardens too!
4) Start a garden at your church:This can be a great way to get your community and youth active in a positive way.
5) Get involved with the Louisiana Master Gardener Program through your local Cooperative Extension:
A Few Great Reasons to Garden:
Of course, these are not the only reasons to garden or the only ways that you can get involved in National Gardening Month.
Would you like to volunteer with an East Baton Rouge Parish EFNEP School Garden or the East Baton Rouge Parish 4-H Club? Contact the East Baton Rouge Parish Extension Office at (225) 389-3055.A very special thanks to Naylor's Hardware and Garden Center for donating such wonderful plants and seeds to the East Baton Rouge Parish EFNEP Gardening Program!
Visit: The National Gardening Association at http://www.nationalgardenmonth.org/ for other ideas to get involved.
Resources: The National Gardening Association Website: http://www.nationalgardenmonth.org/
Spring is here and for many, including a number of schools in Livingston and St. Helena Parishes, this means it’s time to do some gardening! There are many things to consider when planning a school garden and I am learning as I go. Among the most important considerations are what to plant and the available resources to make it all happen. I’ve found two resources especially helpful in my garden planning efforts: “Steps to Growing a Successful School Garden” and the “Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide.” These books were given to me by experienced gardeners and present the planning process in such a nice, neat little package of simple steps to follow:
Don’t be fooled by the apparent simplicity of it all, though. Working through these steps is an unpredictable process and can take some time. It has been roughly two months and only now am I getting ready to collect the soil samples (step 4). It is important to be flexible while following the outline so you can make changes as you see fit.
I have also consulted with Angela Myles, Assistant Area Agent/Parish Chair in St. Helena, as well as Kenny Sharpe and Miles Brashier, both of whom are County Agents and have implemented the Master Gardener Programs in their parishes – don’t forget that people are our greatest resources. Angela Myles introduced me to the school director and PE teacher, helped me locate a potential gardening site, and recruited volunteers. Kenny Sharpe filled me in on how to calculate square footage to determine my soil needs and how to properly collect soil samples. Big help! He also suggested I visit a school garden installed by a 4-H agent in Livingston and a garden in Pt. Coupee Parish which Mr. Miles Brashier developed. While in Point Coupee, I attended a lecture on school gardening which pretty much supported all the information I had been given and I toured a school garden there. Mr. Brashier used simple raised beds enclosed by rectangular boxes with several rows of different vegetables. It was helpful to get an actual visual of the gardens and how simply they can be designed.
Here are a few recommendations from some of Louisiana’s most knowledgeable gardeners: the “Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide” and the Louisiana Master Gardeners suggested that we plant the following after March 15: Bush Net Snap Beans, cantaloupe, collards, cucumbers, okra, peas, bell pepper plants, and Early Girl Tomatoes, or any combination of these as they will grow best during this time of the year. Also, I am thinking of planting herbs since they grow quickly and are relatively easy to harvest – that way I can spice things up a bit and the children will see a quick return of their efforts.
Some other great tips were suggested by my Advisory Leadership Council: have the children at the school write a thank you letter to the sponsors, mention the sponsors in my monthly nutrition newsletters, and include them in my AgCenter blog (this one). Furthermore, all of these gardening suggestions can be used in Livingston once the pilot program in St. Helena has been completed and analyzed. This month we received donations from two sponsors both located in Amite, LA: Dykes is donating two 50 pound bags of 8-8-8 fertilizer and Bracy’s donated $50 to help us get started. I made sure to include them in this blog, I tweeted, and I posted on Facebook today thanking them both for their contributions, thus providing the companies with public recognition.
Do any of you have any other suggestions? What are your experiences with vegetable gardens?
Also, if your school is located in Livingston Parish or St. Helena Parish and you would like to grow a school garden, please feel free to contact me at 225-686-3020.
Laissez les bon temps rouler and let’s get gardening Louisiana!
Easter is right around the corner and lots of children are looking forward to decorating their own eggs and finding eggs at Easter egg hunts. It’s important that Easter eggs are stored and cooked properly, so everyone can enjoy the activities without the risk of food-borne illness.
To prepare hard cooked eggs for decorating, start with eggs that have been refrigerated and are free from cracks. Avoiding temperature fluctuation is important to keep eggs safe. The USDA requires that eggs be refrigerated, and once eggs have been refrigerated, it is important to keep them that way. The best way to store eggs you buy at the grocery store is to keep them in their carton and place them in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Do not store them in the door where they will be affected by the temperature change when the door is opened.
Whether the eggs are raw or cooked, they should not be kept out of refrigeration for more than two hours.
Eggs should be cooked at low temperatures because high heat and overcooking will toughen the protein in the egg and can cause a greenish color around the yolk. To prepare hard-cooked eggs, place a single layer of eggs in a saucepan. Add water to at least one inch above the eggs. Cover the pan, bring the water to a boil quickly, but do not boil. Turn off the heat and if necessary remove the pan from the heat. Let the eggs stand 15 – 20 minutes. Immediately run cold water over the eggs. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, place them in an uncovered container in the refrigerator to air-dry.
When decorating, be sure to use food-grade dyes and do not dye cracked eggs. Return eggs to the refrigerator within 2 hours, and keep them chilled on a shelf inside the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door.
If the hard-cooked dyed eggs are going to be out of refrigeration for more than two hours for an Easter egg hunt or for decoration, discard them after the event. If they are properly and safety handled, hard-cooked eggs have a shelf life of one week.
And, of course, be sure hands, surfaces and utensils are all clean when handling eggs at all stages of preparation.
References:Egg Safety Center – www.eggsafety.org Partnership for Food Safety Education – www.fightbac.org
Let’s start living healthy by eating right and exercising as a daily routine.
Here are 10 tips that all of us can live by daily.
1. Start your day with breakfast. You wake up and you are ready to start your day, but before you leave the house you have to fill your “empty tank” - your stomach. Eating breakfast gives you energy to accomplish your morning tasks.
2. Get moving. 10 minutes may not be a long time, but it gets you motivated to do more. Parking two rows down from the office door and walking is a great stress relief before you begin or end your day. It relaxes the mind and the body.
3. Snack smart. When choosing a snack choose something like an apple, celery sticks with peanut butter, low-fat milk or raw carrots. If you eat healthy snacks as a daily routine, eating chips or a candy bar can be eaten once in a while for your snack.
4. Work up a sweat. Get your heart pumping by warming up with stretches and then a 20 minute aerobic exercise to really get your sweat glands working. Dancing or lifting weights is a good hard breather to make you sweat. Always remember to cool down after a hard workout. After a good workout you always feel refreshed and ready to conquer the world or so we think.
5. Balance your food choices – don’t eat too much of any one thing. Giving up your favorite foods is not the best way to eat healthy. Eating smart and in the right portions is the best way. Make sure you get the proper nutrients from the food groups and always read the nutrition labels on food packages.
6. Get fit with friends or family. Exercising with friends or family is more fun and rewarding than doing it alone. It gives you incentive and motivation to want to work harder at getting in shape. You not only help yourself, but you also help your friend or family member get motivated.
7. Eat more grains, fruits and vegetables. Eating more grains, fruits and vegetables gives you more fiber and energy to conquer tasks in your busy schedule. It also gives you vitamins and carbohydrates to burn off.
8. Join in physical activities at school. Being physically active at school through physical education or sports motivates you and you feel better after completing 10 or 30 minutes of physical activity. Feeling good makes you happy, but looking good makes you excited especially if you are going shopping.
9. Foods aren’t good or bad. Eating food in moderation and eating fat and non-fat foods that fit together balances out. Try to eat your biggest meal at lunch where you can rid most of the calories during the evening. Remember moderation is the key. Moderation, moderation, moderation.
10. Make healthy eating and physical activities fun. Be adventurous and join that Zumba class with your friend. Try new foods and new fruits. Become a stronger and healthier person. Set realistic goals and exceed them. Be the best you can be and be happy with you. Happy eating and exercising.
I hope these tips have helped you think about ways to eat healthier and exercise more. Come on! Let’s get motivated and feel better.
Resources:10 Tips To Healthy Eating and Physical Activity For You from www.fitness.gov Exercise and Nutrition Resources from www.fitness.gov
Have you noticed that your parents may be suffering from depression, having difficulty remembering to take medicine, making poor judgments, missing meals, mentally confused, having difficulty with simple daily tasks, or living in unsafe conditions?
With all siblings and parents present, discuss plans for caring for parents when they demonstrate that they need help or can no longer care for themselves.
Open communication with your parents is the most powerful tool you have to help ensure you and your parents age gracefully together. It is never too early or too late to begin this critical conversation! You may ask yourself, “Where do I begin?” Well, just begin by making a list of all of your concerns or questions. Talk to your parents now about what their wishes are pertaining to housing plans. If they plan to stay in their home, decide if there are some minor home modifications that could be made that would make it easier for them to remain independent and mobile in their comfortable environment longer.
Understand the critical role of legal and financial planning is a much needed conversation. Begin gathering information about your parents’ financial planning. Learn where original documents are kept. Ensure your parents have prepared the necessary documents such as wills, advance directives and powers of attorney. Talk to your siblings about how you plan to divide responsibility for your parents’ well-being. If a parent suffers from a particular disease, learn all you can now about the disease and what a caregiver can expect as the disease progresses.
Learn about the health care system in your parents’ geographic area. Become familiar with alternate accommodations, how home care operates and what local social services are available to the aging.
Learn about and document their end of life wishes.
It is most important that you involve and empower your parents in decisions about their future. Become educated and aware of issues relating to aging. Understand and accept your feelings and the feelings of your parents about aging and important decisions that must be made. Talk with others who share similar situations and concentrate on what your parents can do and maximize those efforts.
Before making dramatic changes in the lives of your parents, consider these factors:
• Their need for independence, their social network and lifestyle differences.
• Availability and eligibility of public funded health care and health care services.
• Cost of care if publicly funded resources are not available.
• Your home environment – space, privacy and safety; the impact on your job.
• Your emotional, physical and financial capability to deal with their needs.
Prepare yourself and your parents for what the future will bring. This will reinforce that you have done the best you can. Most importantly, don’t make long term promises to your parents or promises you cannot keep.
What is a Healthy Eating Plan?
Do you have any idea what a healthy eating plan is? Start with breakfast; do you remember what you ate last week? Were your food choices healthy ones or did you become the poster child for clogged arteries? A healthy eating plan gives your body the nutrients it needs every day while staying within your daily calorie goal for weight loss. A healthy eating plan also will lower your risk for heart disease and other health conditions.
Your meal choices should include healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat products such as milk, yogurt, and some cheeses can help you with your healthy eating plan. You should choose lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts to eat healthy. Choose foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and some added sugars. And most of all eat appropriate portion sizes when serving food for yourself, and other family members. The USDA recommends making half your plate fruits and vegetables. The other two fourths should be lean meat choices and low fat starches.
You can eat a healthy meal and feel full and satisfied if you keep all the unhealthy foods out of your grocery basket. Not bringing the unhealthy foods home can help you when the munchies attack you before bed time. If you get hungry, keep fresh fruits and vegetables handy to munch on until you get used to eating less food.
If you want to maintain or lose more weight, add exercise to your daily routine. I am taking a Zumba class for six weeks. This increased activity will help me to get into better physical shape and meet new people that are in the class. It is better to work out with new friends then sit on the couch and wish you had the time to exercise but are too tired. Eating healthy will boost your metabolism and make you look and feel better. Start eating healthy today!
Cauliflower, a close relative of broccoli and cabbage, is a flower-vegetable made up of many tiny clustered florets that begin to form but are stopped at the bud stage. Cauliflower can be grown in both the fall and spring seasons in Louisiana. It is best to purchase cauliflower when the florets are compact, the coloring is creamy white, and before the buds begin to separate. To clean cauliflower, you should rinse the head thoroughly then place it upside down in a bowl of water, or salt water, to be sure all dirt and bugs are removed.
Cauliflower is a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, some B vitamins, potassium, and manganese. Additionally, it is a good source of protein, some B vitamins, magnesium, and phosphorus. These great components of cauliflower are responsible for the following health benefits:· Help prevent prostate, breast, cervical, colon, and ovarian cancers· Boost the immune system· Reduce the risk of infection and virus· Replenish the vitamins needed for proper food metabolism· Help to keep a healthy blood pressure
The culinary uses of cauliflower are varied. Here are some creative ways to incorporate cauliflower into the food plan:
· Use pureed cauliflower as a thickener for soups and curries· Add some chopped cauliflower to a vegetable dish · Use some small florets in a pasta salad· Pickle cauliflower for a snack· Make Aloo-gobi, a potato-cauliflower dish that is very popular in some South Asian countries including India
For a healthy snack or a quick side dish, try this Broccoli Garden Salad!
Recipe Yield: 10 servings
· 3 cups broccoli florets· 1 cup grated carrots· 1 cup sliced cauliflower· 1 cup chopped apples· ½ cup sliced green onions· ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon· 1 cup non-fat light vanilla yogurt· ¼ cup roasted chopped peanuts (optional)
1. Toss all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. 2. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 6 hours. Serve chilled.3. Enjoy!
Sources for Information
1. Power your Diet: www.nutrition-and-you.com, Search Cauliflower Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
2. Self Nutrition Data: http://nutritiondata.self.com/, Search Raw Cauliflower
3. Smart Choices Recipe Book from the LSU AgCenter
Many individuals set a New Year’s goal to improve their health by changing their diet and becoming more physically active. However, usually by February, old habits creep back into the picture. Well, March is National Nutrition Month and is a great time to refocus on those health goals.
At the time of setting health goals, it would be great to include coloring your day with more fruits and vegetables. There are numerous health benefits linked to eating more fruits and vegetables. Those benefits increase with the number of colorful fruits and vegetables that are eaten. Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients such as vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, and folate to name a few that can help to reduce the risk of certain diseases. Moreover, they provide phytochemicals (plant chemicals) and antioxidants (protect against harmful free radicals) that have a wide range of health benefits. Additionally, fruits and vegetables are low in calories and most are fat free. Aren’t these benefits making them more inviting to eat?The number of cups of fruits and vegetables eaten each day will vary depending on the MyPlate Daily Food Plan that recommends a daily caloric intake based on the age, gender and activity level of an individual. Fruits and vegetables can be eaten in different forms such as fresh, frozen, canned, dried or 100% juice. Remember when selecting canned vegetables; select those with no salt added. Canned fruit should be packed in juices rather than in syrups to reduce the amount of added sugar. Additionally, you can save money by purchasing fruits and vegetables in season and with proper selection and storage. So, make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, add them as a snack, and pull from the colorful selection of green, red, yellow/orange, blue/purple, and white/tan/brown to boost your health benefits.
March 21st is the official start of spring, but in many parts of the United States it still feels suspiciously like winter. Watch and listen for early signs of springtime, like tiny buds on trees and shrubs, early bulbs peeking out of the ground, and birdsong.
Think of the longer spring days as extra family time. Perhaps activities you once thought would only work on the weekend can now be snuck in with an extra hour of daylight. Take a walk after dinner, ride bikes, kick or catch a ball. Bedtime may creep slightly later for the kids, and everyone will go to bed with smiles on their faces, thinking of the time you spent together.
1. Search for the Signs of Spring – See how many you can find. What do you hear? Look at the details around you. Talk about what looks different compared to what you last remember, and what are you looking forward to doing in the months ahead? Which of those activities can you actually do now? Try one of them!
2. See What Comes Out At Night – What comes out at night where you live: opossums, raccoons, owls? Visit a local nature center or search the Internet to learn the signs of where the local animals may live, then look for these signs on your nature walks.
3. Race For A Ball – Throw a ball over your house and see who can run around the side to reach it first. If you have an apartment or your house is too tall, take the ball to the park and throw it over a tree, park bench, or tennis court net. The point is to get some exercise and laugh a lot by seeing who can get the ball first.
4. Support Your Local Farmers and Learn – Experience the produce of the seasons and learn what is planted and when it is harvested where you live. Visit a farmer’s market and show your children different types of locally grown fruits and vegetables.
5. Make Something From Nature – What can you and your child envision and create? Make up a story that goes along with your creation. You can even write words in leaves and sticks on the ground.
6. Read Garden-Inspired Books – Gear up for the planting season! Grab a blanket and head outside to read a favorite story about a garden. Some favorites are: The Carrot Seed, To Be Like the Sun, The Secret Garden, and Caillou In The Garden.
7. Watch The Sunset As a Family – Once we “spring forward” with the clocks and before the leaves burst forth from the trees, notice where you might be able to go as a family after dinner to watch the sunset. If your family is up for it, go ahead and have a picnic dinner outside. If it feels too cold for a sit-down meal, try a variation that keeps the kids more active; take a picnic blanket and your favorite family game and soak in that extra hour of daylight together.
Reference: Cohen, Rebecca, P. 15 Minutes Outside, 365 ways to get out of the house and connect with your kids. 2011.
Spring is such a great season for planting not only beautiful, fragrant flowers, but also some of our favorite and delicious fruits and vegetables. If you are not quite sure what to plant, then here are some fruits and vegetables that are great for growing in Louisiana in your spring garden.
Dates to plant between
Bush and Pole Beans
Hot Peppers (seed)
Hot Peppers (plants)
Bell Peppers (seeds)
Bell Peppers (plants)
Many of the seeds that are available at plant nurseries and home improvement stores have planting guides on the back of the packages. To ensure your gardening success, using the Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide distributed by the LSU AgCenter is suggested. There are many different varieties of fruits and vegetables that can be chosen from, but please take into consideration which varieties are known to grow best in Louisiana. The Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide offers a wealth of information to help gardeners, such as: recommendations for planting dates, depth to plant, inches between plants and days until harvest. Furthermore, it suggests recommended plant varieties for Louisiana and general fertilizer recommendations. If you are planting in ground row beds or have raised beds that contain older soil, then testing the soil is advised. Having the soil tested and/or amended before planting will allow your garden to flourish.Whether you are sowing your own seeds or you are planting transplants, watering is very important. If there is a lack of rain and/or the soil becomes dry, seeds and transplants will need to be lightly watered every day. Mature plants, however, will need to be watered thoroughly a couple times a week. To retain and conserve moisture in the soil, mulch may be used.If you have ever grown a spring/summer garden in the past, then you are most likely very familiar with the amount of pests that will be attracted to your tasty garden as the temperature warms. The best pest control method will depend on the type of pests that have stumbled upon your garden. Your local extension office will be able to help you identify the best approach to take.
If you have never gardened before, then why not give it a try? Gardening is a great activity that can get the whole family involved, create healthy eating habits, and can be an incentive to grow and/or try a fruit or vegetable that you have never tried before or even heard of. Gardening of any type can also be a great physical activity and encourage many more health and lifestyle benefits.
Resources:Louisiana Vegetable Plating Guide, LSU AgCenter (Pub. 1980)Gill, D. (1999). Month-by-month gardening in Louisiana. Franklin, TN: Cool Springs Press, Inc.
by Nathalie Savoy, Assistant Extension AgentHappy Mardi Gras! As most of you know, Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” and marks the beginning of the Catholic Lenten season of fasting in preparation for Easter. For some, it’s tradition on Fat Tuesday to indulge in all of our favorite eats and drinks one last time before Easter. On this one day each year, we here in Louisiana are encouraged to eat, drink and be merry! Unfortunately, for a growing number of Louisianans, and nationwide, some of the indulgences and lack of dietary discipline celebrated on Fat Tuesday tend to be part of everyday life. This troubling trend brings me to our topic for this month: Obesity.
Obesity is a growing national concern and is associated with chronic disease, increased health care costs, decline in job/school performance, as well as psychological problems. The statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the progression of obesity in Louisiana has doubled from 15% to 30% over the last 20 years. The significant increase in obesity rates has been attributed to a number of factors, including genetic, behavioral (eating large portions, frequent snacking on energy dense foods, sedentary lifestyle), and environmental (learned behavior from adults, lack of access to bike paths/sidewalks, affordable healthy food choices).
My goal, as a nutrition professional, is to work within the community to raise awareness to these factors, especially the behavioral and environmental factors. Did you know that in most cases, our eating habits are set by our adolescent years? Also, the Journal of American Dietetic Association has found that children who plant and cultivate fruit and vegetables are more likely to eat them, aiding in the reduction of obesity. These conclusions stress the importance of educating young children on proper nutrition before unhealthy patterns are set and exposing them to the many long-term benefits of gardening-based nutrition.
My vision for the communities I serve is for children to be educated, healthy, happy and active in hopes of helping them achieve a healthier adulthood. To help combat obesity, the USDA recommends that we increase fruits and vegetables by filling ½ our plate with fruits and vegetables, and eat a colorful variety every day. I know, easier said than done! I have found that the more children (and adults) are exposed to the many benefits of garden-based nutrition, the more likely they will be to take advantage of this available resource.
Speaking from personal experience with a garden-based nutrition program, I can attest to the children’s reactions and to the effectiveness of the program. Last summer I was involved in a garden-based nutrition initiative at a local YMCA. The children were excited to see us each week, participated enthusiastically in all of the learning activities, and had a blast handling worms and planting seeds. At the end of each lesson, they were eager to try the fruit and vegetable samples we provided to them, often asking for seconds and sometimes thirds! Some may not have liked everything they tried, but the important thing is that they tried something new and we provided a fun and safe environment in which to do so.
Additional support for the benefits of these types of programs can be found in a recent article in the Journal of American Dietetic Association (JADA), which reported research findings that garden-based nutrition education increases adolescents' consumption of fruits and vegetables by involving the children in the planting and cultivating of fruit and vegetables. Exposure to fruits and vegetables has also increased preferences of some fruits and vegetables.
Still not convinced to give garden-based nutrition a try? Here are some additional benefits that are often overlooked: gardening is cost effective (low seed costs, helps to supplement grocery costs) and helps children understand the cycle from seed to plate. Gardening also helps to reinforce other concepts learned in the classroom such as math, science, and art and furthers their knowledge of food safety and dining etiquette. And, lastly, gardening imparts responsibility to the children and increases their self-esteem.
Laissez les bon temps rouler! And let’s get gardening Louisiana!
ResourcesU.S. Obesity Trends from www.cdc.gov www.choosemyplate.gov www.adajournal.org www.healthyschoolenvironment.org
There is a new epidemic running rampant among young people today. It is called “too much screen time." Let’s face it - our kids spend more time in front of the TV and computers (screen time) than ever before. If they are not on the cell phone texting or surfing the web, they are in front of the television. Studies show that children spend more time in front of a screen than any other activity apart from sleeping. On average, children spend 1,023 hours a year in front of a screen. While watching television and surfing the net can be educational, most kids are not choosing the “educational” sites to surf.
As parents, we should know how many hours each day our children watch a screen. Do you know how much screen time your children are getting? If not, keep a log of your child’s screen time for one week. You will be shocked to see it add up. Studies show that children who are in front of a screen more than 2 hours a day are more likely to:
“National Turn off TV Week” is scheduled for April 15-21, 2012. Take this time to limit your child’s “screen time." Know how much time your child spends in front of a screen. Here are some tips on reducing recreational screen time:
Limiting your child’s screen time to less than two hours a day can make all the difference in their grades, health and attitudes. Who knows, they might even come out of their room and spend some quality time with you. Plan family night once a week and play board games or do outdoor activities. Resource used: tvturnoff.org
Salt plays a role in high blood pressure. A key recommendation of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines is for everyone to reduce sodium intake to less than 2300 mg (about 1 teaspoon of salt) a day. Adults 51 years and older, African Americans of any age, and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease – further reduce sodium to 1500 mg a day. Here are tips to help reduce salt in your diet.
Eat fresh foods. Most of the sodium we eat is from processed foods – cheesy foods like pizza, deli/luncheon meats, ready-to-eat foods, canned chili and soups. Eat less of them and in smaller portions. Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium and are a healthier option.
Cook more often at home. You are in control of what is added to your food. Limit or avoid adding salt to your food. Use spices, herbs, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice to season foods or no-salt seasoning mixes.
Eat more fruits and veggies. Fresh or frozen, they are naturally low in sodium.
Read the label. Read the Nutrition Facts Label of packaged products to choose products with less sodium per serving. Select foods labeled ‘low sodium," “reduced-sodium," or “no-salt added."
Choose low sodium dairy and protein foods. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt instead of cheese which is higher in sodium; choose fresh meats and seafood instead of deli /luncheon meat, sausages, and canned products like corned beef.
Eat more foods with potassium. They may help reduce blood pressure. Sources include fruits and vegetables (sweet potatoes, beet greens, beans, bananas), yogurt, clams, halibut, orange juice and milk.
Gradually cut back on salt over time. This will lesson your taste for salt. Ask for lower sodium foods when eating out. Limit condiment use– soy sauce, ketchup, pickles, salad dressings and sauces. Select low sodium options.
The name says it all – break the fast! Considering your last meal was the night before, your body is once again ready to be refueled. Breakfast is the most important meal you can eat. However, one-fourth of the children between the ages of 6 and 11 do not eat breakfast before they head off to school. They are leaving home on their way to learn with an empty fuel tank!When students begin their day with breakfast, they often think faster and more clearly and have better recall. Children who eat breakfast are more alert, creative, and energetic, miss less class and report that they are sick less often. Breakfast eaters also score higher on tests.
Some individuals believe that skipping breakfast may help them lose weight. Studies of adolescents, however, indicate that missing breakfast is associated with weight gain. Skipping meals often leads to overeating later in the day. Teens become overly hungry and then they tend to overeat and consume more “empty” calories than they would have if they had eaten a nutritious breakfast.
Hunger, even short-term hunger, decreases a child’s attention span and the ability to concentrate. Hungry children just can’t do their best work. They are easily distracted and become fidgety, irritable and tired.
All adults should not miss breakfast. This meal provides the nutrients and energy needed to start the day. Attempt to eat breakfast as a family - parents who eat breakfast are role models for their children..
When you skip breakfast you are more likely to miss consuming the 40-plus nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.
Breakfast should provide children with one-fourth of their daily calories. Those who skip breakfast may not consume the daily requirements of protein, carbohydrates, calcium, iron and vitamin C as children who do eat breakfast.
Breakfast provides glucose – the fuel that runs the brain and nervous system, that helps you think, walk, talk, and carry on all activities. Without glucose the body has to work extra hard to break down any stored carbohydrates or turn fat or protein into a usable form of glucose to allow the brain to function.
Some individuals have difficulty eating an early morning breakfast. These individuals should try to enjoy a small glass of milk or juice and consider bringing along a mid-morning snack such as whole grain crackers, low-fat granola bars or a peanut butter sandwich. Other suggested breakfast foods include: oatmeal, cold whole wheat cereals, 100% fruit juice, eggs, bagels with fruit flavored cream cheese spread, or fresh fruit.
If there is no time at home for breakfast, the best option is to eat a school breakfast. This meal provides a balance of nutrients including carbohydrates, protein and fat. A balanced breakfast such as fruit, unsweetened cereal, and low-fat milk provides the energy needed to actively participate in morning classes.
Make breakfast a top priority each morning for you and your child!
Reference: LSU AgCenter (July 2009) Breakfast Remains on Chopping Block, Back-to-School News.
As far as thriftiness and health are concerned, Beta Vulgaris, or beets, rank top notch in the month of February. The entire vegetable can be consumed, including the beetroot and leafy green tops, and beets are rich in a plethora of nutrients. Beets also take very well to the Louisiana climate and have become a popular vegetable in gardens across the state. Ruby Queen, Chariot, and Detroit Dark Red are just a few of the varieties that do best. For a winter crop, this hardy plant should be planted mid-August to early October. Firmness in the bulb, or root, and a bright coloring are good indications that your beets are ready for harvesting.Beets are rich in dietary fiber, folate, potassium, and manganese. They also provide good sources of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and antioxidants. The combinations of these components are responsible for the following health benefits:-decreasing the risk of developing heart disease
-helping your cells to properly make DNA
-helping your body to reject cancer-causing free radicals
-helping your skin and eyes to stay healthy
-helping to regulate your blood pressure
Beets are incredibly unique in their texture and taste. When preparing beets, it is important to first remove the beetroot from the greens. Then wash them both separately and thoroughly. The outer layer of the bulb needs to be scrubbed and removed before consumption.
Some great ways to work beets into your daily diet can include:
-Boiling the beet greens for 1 minute, similar to chard, and serving as a side dish.
-Cutting the root into cubes and tossing them in with a salad.
-Steaming sliced beets and serving with a small amount of butter for a delicacy.
-Pickling beets for a snack.
-Pureeing the beetroot for a nutritious, quick beverage.
-Adding a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to beets and eating them as a side dish.
-Cooking beets into flavorful soups or curries for added texture.
Beet nutrition facts from www.nutrition-and-you.comBeets from www.whfoods.com-LSU AgCenter Research & Extension: Louisiana Home Vegetable Gardening
How often do you sit on the couch after a long day at the office, and say to yourself, “I should be walking instead of sitting on the couch." Then you say to yourself, “but I am too tired to get up." So you exercise your fingers by flipping channels with the remote, your arm by inserting your hand into a bag of chips, or your legs by walking to the fridge or bathroom. Sorry, that is not enough exercise to burn off one chip from that bag of chips you swore you would never buy again. So what can you do to motivate yourself to walk in the afternoon instead of sitting around snacking? Here are 3 activity guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website that may help motivate you:
*Adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.OR
*1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activities every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.OR
*An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.
Give this a try: try going for a 10-minute walk around the corner and add a few more minutes each day until you are walking at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 of the 7 days a week. It can’t hurt.
References used: How much physical activity do you need? from www.cdc.gov
Getting ready for school or work can be a hassle, but that doesn’t mean waiting until lunch to eat.
Start with Breakfast!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Not only does it give you the energy to jump start your day, but it has been known to have positive effects. Breakfast helps improve concentration in school, decrease snacking, and most importantly, helps to maintain a better weight than those who skip breakfast.
Studies have indicated that students who ate breakfast performed better in school. They have shown to have significantly higher scores on standardized achievement tests.
Breakfast provides the body with some of the essential nutrients it needs. Children who eat breakfast are less irritable and fidgety; they have the energy needed to last throughout the morning without getting tired.
Tips to remember when selecting breakfast:
· Eat breakfast that includes a variety of foods
· Limit breakfast that is high in fats and sugar
· Select foods high in fiber
· Look for foods with an adequate amount (not too many, not too few) of calories
· Pick foods that the family will enjoy eating
Suggestions for a fast and easy breakfast:
· Whole-grain cereal with milk
· Cereal topped with fruits
· Plain yogurt topped with fruits or nuts
· Peanut butter sandwich with apple wedges
· Whole grain toast topped with low-fat cheese
· Fruit smoothie
· Cheese toast with fruit
Tips to eliminate morning rush:
· Get up ten minutes earlier
· Eliminate morning television and computer access and concentrate on eating breakfast
· Keep readily available, easy-to-fix breakfast foods
· Prepare school bag and school clothes the night before to reduce morning chaos
How long does it take to “Form a New Habit?” Many of our daily routines are examples of habit forming, such as brushing your teeth, feeding your pet, going to bed at night, etc.
Therefore, get into a new habit-Eat Breakfast.
References:Ready, Set, Breakfast from Kidshealth.orgBreakfast Benefits from FamilyEducation.com
What’s the new buzz phrase? Let’s Move! Everyone is talking about the need to get moving. Moving is simply called physical activity. Physical activity can consist of any body movement that causes one to use energy. It is an essential requirement for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It should be a part of your daily schedule. Just as we plan to take care of our daily needs, let’s make certain we have planned to “get moving” at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. Parents - make certain your children are included. Children require 60 minutes a day. Now you may be saying, I have too much to do for all of that. How can I fit another thing into my schedule?
Well, here are just a few tips to get you started:
When at Home:
When at Work:
Remember to move at your pace. Every move will count and most of all make it fun!
When beginning a new routine, failure to consider the barriers could prevent you from staying on track. Planning ahead for the unexpected helps you to be better prepared for when it happens. Change Your Thinking!
To take control of your portions requires self-discipline. Now what does that really mean? To sum it up, “having the will power to just say NO when your eyes or emotions are saying yes.” Taking control of your portions can be possible.
Start small and try these simple steps:
Begin the new year with new goals to become fit and healthy.
References:Be Active Your Way: A Guide for Adults from www.health.gov Tips for Increasing Physical Activity from www.choosemyplate.gov
Most people see insects in their garden and immediately think that they must take certain measures to get rid of them. But many of the insects that we may see can be extremely beneficial to the plants in our home gardens. Here are a few examples of beneficial insects and pests that can be spotted in the garden.
Praying Mantis: (Predator)Praying mantises have long necks and front arms, triangular heads, and elongated bodies that can resemble leaves or branches. They can camouflage themselves very well and can adapt to their surrounding colors. They are mostly known to eat insects like crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, frogs, and lizards.Ladybugs: (Predator)Ladybugs are rounded insects with shiny covered wings and their colors range from orange, red, yellow, and black. They can be seen with spots and without. Like the praying mantis, ladybugs are predators that feed on pest insects in the garden such as aphids and mites and other soft-bodied insects.
Butterflies: (Pollinator)Butterflies are beautiful and elegant insects that are quite enjoyable to look at. There are many different species and they can have many different colors and some very interesting patterns. Besides being beautiful multi-colored insects, they can help our growing gardens. Butterflies are excellent pollinators. As butterflies move from flower to flower feeding on the nectar, pollen that has stuck to them is transported to the next flower they feed on.Bees: (Pollinator)Bees are another excellent pollinator. Honey is not the only benefit of bees. They are another extremely beneficial and necessary insect in the garden and crops. As they fly around in search of and feeding on the nectar of flowers, pollen gets attached to the hairs on their bodies and is transferred to another flower.
Pest insects can damage and even ruin our gardens. There are a variety of different pests that can feed on your home garden that you may have taken such diligent care of. These are just a few pests that you may encounter in some of your home gardens.
Aphids (Plant Lice):This garden pest can be described as a small, soft bodied insect that is typically a yellowish-green color and can be both winged or wing-less. Aphids, which are a type of plant lice, can reproduce very quickly. You will see these garden pests dwelling on the underside of just about everything, but they tend to like vegetable plant leaves and stems such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and collard greens - typically, younger plants. Aphids are sucking insects that can wreak havoc on the leaves of your vegetable plants. They will feed on the leaves and can cause them to become curled and discolored.Tomato Hornworm:These insects affect tomato plants. The larva can be described as a long thick pale green worm with chalky streaks across its body. You will also notice small spots along the sides of their bodies and they have red or black spiky tails. The adult tomato hornworms are brownish gray moths that are decorated with orange spots on the abdomen. The eggs can be seen on the underneath of the tomato leaves and are greenish-yellow in color. The larvas of the tomato hornworm are fast eaters. They have been known to eat nearly an entire tomato plant in just a couple days.Whiteflies:Whiteflies can be a huge problem in late summer. They are very small, only a little bigger than a gnat and have small white wings. These pests tend to fly up and off of the plant when it is shaken or disturbed. These pests are also a sucking insect that will feed on the plant leaves, which can also cause the plant to look diseased. They can be seen on a wide variety of plants including Confederate roses and vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, okra, beans, and sweet potatoes, just to name a few.
Resources:LSU AgCenter Master Gardeners Publication: The Home Gardener Volume 8, No. 1
Common Plant Pests from www.lsuagcenter.com
Butterfly Gardening for Louisianians from www.lsuagcenter.comAuthors:Dale K. Pollet (Professor of Entomology)Allen D. Owings (Professor of Horticulture)Dan J. Gill (Associate Professor of Horticulture)Edward W. Bush (Associate Professor of Horticulture)LSU AgCenter Publication (Pub. 1918): Agricultural Pest Control Guide; A Guide for Commercial Pesticide Applicators
Smith, E. C. (2000). The vegetable gardener's bible. North Adams, MA: Stoney Publishing.
Living in a microwave society when busy schedules encourage us to eat fast food, it is nice to take time to reflect on the little things that bring us so much joy like cooking family favorites or cooking with family. Many of us have been inspired to cook the foods we enjoyed eating as a child. For some, inspiration comes from a favorite dish Mom or Dad use to make, but for me it was my grandmother’s home style green beans. She cooked them with onions smothered in butter in an iron pot on her gas stove. I’ve tried and I’ve tried to follow her recipe and cooking technique for years, and no matter how delicious my green beans turn out, they never seem as tasty to me as maw-maw Faul’s. I’ve also tried preparing a healthier version of this family favorite by simply substituting the butter with a light butter spread. We all need a little fat in our diet to be able to absorb fat soluble vitamins, for example from the green beans in this recipe, however all fats are not the same. Butter contains saturated fats because it has been hydrogenated. A healthier alternative is to use light spreads which have half the calories and fat of butter and stick margarines, contain no hydrogenated or saturated fats, and still provides the taste and consistency of butter.
Attending nutrition programs as an Assistant Extension Agent allowed me the opportunity to observe family practices in the community - noting that they too have been inspired by someone in their family to prepare home cooked meals.
The Livingston Chapter of The Louisiana Volunteers for Families and Community (LVFC) recently conducted their annual meeting to select council members and to report their volunteer efforts from the previous year. In keeping with the theme of cooking inspirations, Martha Latimer, President of LVFC, hosted the meeting at her home and called it “Soup Day." She explained that her soup was derived from a recipe that her grandmother used. Her grandmother would place leftover vegetables in her freezer labeled “soup pot” to later use in her soup. Martha practices the same “good food economics” technique when she creates her vegetable soup, with the exception of added stew meat. Martha’s beef and vegetable soup was delicious – so spicy and savory and similar to my mother’s soup! It also evoked a feeling of contentment …you know, like when you eat a certain food and it reminds you of a childhood memory? For me, it was that food was an expression of love – and I felt love with every spoonful.
Also, while conducting a Family Nutrition Night Program during the 4-H Food Festival at Lewis Vincent Elementary, where they encouraged children to create a dish and submit it for judging, I was impressed to see a multitude of children had entered dishes. Many of them who I spoke with explained that they used their mother’s recipe, or that their grandparents assisted with the baking instructions. One child explained, “My grandmother helped me cook the dish. Look, she’s right over there!” As I looked over to my left, I saw the child’s grandmother seated on the gym floor, waving from across the room with a proud smile on her face. A fitting example of the magic of family and food!
Trying others’ home cooked meals and learning of their inspirations reminded me how fortunate I am to have had a grandmother who loved to share her kitchen and recipes with her family. In loving memory of Esther “Maw-Maw” Faul.
ResourcesDietary Fats from MedlinePlusCommercial Item Description (CID): Buttery SpreadsSoft Spreads and Butter Nutritional Comparison Chart from www.promiseinstitute.org Esther Comeaux Faul
Most people make New Year's resolutions January 1st with good intentions, then get a feeling of being overwhelmed and slip back into old habits within a few months. Below are things I would like to do to get healthier in the New Year. You can use my list or make your own list to a healthier new you.
1. I will go to the gym and workout every day.Alternative: I'll start with 3 days a week and gradually add more days as I get comfortable.
2. I will use my treadmill every day for an hour. Alternative: I'll set a goal to use my treadmill a certain number of times a week.
3. I will use my dumbbells each day. Alternative: I'll buy a book or video about strength training or hire a trainer to teach me the best way to use my weights.
4. I will sign up for that daily 6 a.m. exercise class.Alternative: I'll find a time that works best with my schedule and choose a class based on what I like, not what I think I should do.
5. I will never eat sweets again.Alternative: I'll make a rule for myself that I can have sweets once a week to satisfy my sweet tooth without blowing my diet.
6. I will cook delicious, nutritious meals from scratch every night.Alternative: I'll buy a healthy cookbook and try making one new recipe each week or month.
7. I will do a hundred crunches a day - no, three hundred!Alternative: I'll educate myself about the best way to get flat abs and then figure out the best use of my time.
8. I will stop consumption of all alcoholic beverages, fast food, desserts, chips, cookies and anything that tastes good. I will eat lettuce and lemon wedges. Alternative: I'll choose one thing in my diet to focus on and, when I've mastered that, I'll move on to something else.
9. I will tell my spouse that if he doesn't exercise with me, he is in big trouble.Alternative: I'll ask my spouse to exercise with me and hope for the best.
Making a New Year's Plan
Once you set more reasonable goals, focus on a specific plan to reach those goals. Try making a check list to help you choose your goals and work up a plan of attack. Before you know it, it will be next January 1st and you will have most of your check list checked off!!!!
You know exercise is good for you, and that it’s in your best interest to make this the year you start and/or maintain physical activity. But do you know how good getting 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week really is?
The most recent Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health found that regular physical activity:· Reduces the risk of dying from heart disease· Reduces the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and colon cancer· Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety· Helps control weight and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints· Helps maintain function and preserve independence in older adults
If everyone put in 30 minutes of aerobic activity five times a week it would cut the amount of chronic diseases and health costs by almost half. That’s how powerful physical fitness is, according to the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
So you’re interested, but aren’t sure how to begin. It’s best to start out by walking (or doing some other type of aerobic exercise) and then add strength training later. Good forms of aerobic exercise include: walking, biking, swimming and jogging.
In addition to aerobic exercise, it’s important to incorporate strength training into your program and imperative to do both because lifting weights not only builds your muscles, but also raises your metabolism, causing you to burn more calories.
Starting a program is one thing, but maintaining it is another matter entirely. Here are some things that you should consider when choosing and working a program:· Find the right kind of exercise for you· Make the time to exercise· Get up and move· Find an exercise buddy· Check with a doctor before beginning an exercise program· Strength train safely· Start slowly· Make exercise fun· Write down why you want to exercise· Set weekly goals with enticing rewards· Keep an exercise log· Make stretching a part of your workout routine· Wear comfortable shoes with good support when exercising
Reference:Reprinted with permission of the University of Maryland Medical Center (www.umm.edu).
January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. The 2012 theme focuses on congenital heart defects, “And the Beat Goes On . . . Looking to the Future for Healthy Hearts.”
Facts You Should Know:
What are birth defects? Birth defects are conditions that are abnormal and can happen either at the time of birth or before. Some of these conditions are more serious than others. For example, an extra finger or toe is considered a mild condition. A condition such as a heart defect is very serious. Birth defects can cause physical, mental, as well as medical problems. There are some birth defects that are attributed to genetic factors such as Down syndrome and sickle cell anemia. Others may be attributed to certain drugs, medicines or chemicals. The causes of many birth defects are still unknown and a matter of continued research.
Many people are in denial and believe birth defects only happen to other people. Any family can be impacted by birth defects. Nearly 120,000 babies in the U.S. are born with a birth defect each year.
Birth defects are the leading cause of death in children under the age of one, resulting in one in every five deaths. Each day 18 babies die in the U.S. as a result of a birth defect. The most common kinds of birth defects are of the heart and limbs. Every year millions of dollars are spent for the care and treatment of children with birth defects.
The good news is research is finding new ways of preventing and treating birth defects. Every day, genes are being identified that may cause birth defects, providing hope for new treatment and cures. More information is provided to parents through genetic counseling to identify risks based on family history, age, ethnic or racial background, or other factors. Mothers with health problems such as diabetes or seizures are receiving better health care to improve their chances of having babies that are healthy. There are also improvements in immunizations to prevent infections like German measles (rubella) that can harm unborn babies.
Here are some recommendations from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network that all women of childbearing age who are pregnant or could become pregnant, should follow to help reduce the risk of certain types of serious birth defects:
If you would like to learn more, ask your health care professional or local health department.
Visit the CDC's website for information about pregnancy and birth defects. The March of Dimes website is another online resource with information on these topics.
References:Birth Defects Prevention Month 2012Important information about Preventing Birth Defects - Birth Defects Prevention Pamphlet from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network website.
January brings to us a tasty, beneficial, nutrient-packed treat from the garden: scallions! Scallions, also known as green onions, are immature plants of the onion root family. They are generally planted in the summer. Scallions can be harvested when the stalks are firm, green, around 1-2 feet tall, and the white bulb at the bottom is barely developed. The whole plant minus the roots is edible and it is best stored in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
Scallions are a very good source of dietary fiber; vitamins A, C, and K; folate; calcium; iron; potassium; and manganese. They are also a good source of B vitamins, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and phytochemicals. These components of scallions may help the body to:
In addition to all of these incredible health benefits, scallions provide a low calorie and sodium, no fat alternative for flavoring food. Here are some creative ways to add scallions into your daily diet:
Garlic Potato Soup
Recipe Yield: 27 servingsServing Size: 1/3 cup
For football fans Super Bowl Sunday is party time, and snacks contribute to making it an enjoyable event. Careful planning and selection of healthy snacks will ensure that snacking this day does not thwart any New Year's resolution or undo lifestyle changes achieved. It helps if you make your own snacks; this gives you control over the salt and fat added. Score a healthy touchdown with the following tips:
1. Love pizza? Try whole wheat pizza with veggie toppings in place of regular pizza.
2. Choose salsa instead of creamy dips to get the benefits of low calories and fresh veggies. Enjoy with whole wheat crackers, baked tortilla chips, or pita bread.
3. Replace ranch dip with low fat yogurt dip to reduce calories and still have a tasty dip.
4. Fruit kabobs are a fun and delicious way to get in your daily recommended amount of fruit. Fruit salad is also a refreshing and nutritious option. Here is a quick recipe you can try: Winter Fruit Salad.
5. Try a veggie platter with a yogurt dip.
6. Choose baked chips instead of the regular fried chips to cut down on calories. Sweet potatoes are in season and can be used as fries; they pack a powerful antioxidant punch.
7. Hummus, rich in vitamins and iron, is a great snack with pita bread or crackers. Likewise any bean dip is also a healthy option.
8. Trail mix will provide the boost of energy needed to cheer your favorite football players. Save money by making your own trail mix. Basically you need unsalted nuts, dry fruits, and grains and sometimes chocolate and peanuts to make a trail mix. Get creative with other combos for your Super Bowl party.
REMEMBER to keep food safe to eat. Clean, separate, cook, chill. Visit FoodSafety.gov for more information.
Have a Safe and Healthy Super Bowl CelebrationCDC Publication - Entertaining (listed under Get Smart with Fruits and Veggies Campaign)
Do I really have the power to create memories every day? Yes!
Let’s take a walk. Make sure that each family member has toasty warm outdoor gear that fits properly. Organize separate bins of gloves, mittens, scarves, and hats for each member of the family to keep by the back door. This helps to suit up and get out the door quickly without cries of, “Where’s my other mitten?"
As long as everyone is warmly dressed we can stay outdoors as long as the kids are happy, active and entertained. Winter is a wonderful season to explore the natural world. In many parts of the country, each of the four seasons is so dramatic, especially when you get up close and pay attention. Spending family time outdoors in the winter is just as important as getting children to eat their vegetables and in most cases, a lot easier! Families are naturally happier outdoors – learning and being active together. Ask your children to point out things that are more fun in winter than in summer.
Organize Those Outside Toys
· At a child’s level have cubes or a shelving unit with baskets or clear plastic tubs for smaller items like chalk, bubbles, jumping ropes and their gardening tools.
· You can tape a picture to each basket or tub of the item with the word underneath.
· Use buckets for similar items (such as smaller balls all together).
· On a high shelf by the door, sunscreen, bug spray and a first-aid kit can be stored.
With the start of a new year, the opportunity is here to make a fresh start with healthful behaviors. Whether it is to eat healthier, be more physically active or lose weight; now is the time to make those changes.
Incorporate the following smart steps daily to make gradual changes to a healthier you.
·Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Eating more fruits and vegetables can add many health benefits. Fruits and vegetables provide the body with fiber, vitamins and antioxidants for overall health. Additionally, most fruits and vegetables are fat free and low in calories. So, by eating more fruits and veggies, you can help to maintain a healthy weight with all of the health benefits.
·Practice portion control. Many times we will eat without pay attention to how much we are consuming. A portion is usually a measured amount of food or drink (ex. ¾ cup of cereal). By eating portions, we can reduce the amount of extra calories that we get from eating larger helpings of foods. One way to practice portion control is to use measuring cups to know how much you are eating and serving your food on a smaller plate. MyPlate can be a great tool to use to identify proper portion sizes from the various food groups. Additionally by using the Nutrition Facts label on food products as a guide, portion control can be much more manageable.
·Increase your daily activity. There are numerous benefits to being physically active. Some of the benefits to regular activity includes improving heart health, builds muscles, strengthens bones, lowers the risk of disease, prevents weight gain, and reduces stress. Moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 30 minutes daily can provide these benefits. Be active with your family or with a friend and make it fun; you will see the results in no time.
·Choose a variety of foods. Not only is it good to increase the amount of fruits and veggies eaten; it is equally as important to choose more whole grains, low-fat and fat free dairy products and lean meats. By eating the recommended portions from all food groups, we can meet many of our nutritional needs for optimal health benefits. Also, remember to limit the amount of salt, added sugars and fat in your food selections.
·Keep a journal. Writing down what and how much is eaten can help with maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, it can help you to identify where those "potholes" are to keep you from reaching your goals. Remember to write down everything, including condiments (ex. Ketchup, barbeque sauce, mayonnaise, etc.), little things can add up quickly with the daily calorie intake. Interactive tools like MyPlate SuperTracker can assist with food journaling, calorie intake and physical activity. Plan the time in your day to log in your food selections and physical activity to help with accountability. By trying these simple steps, you will notice the gradual changes to a healthier you.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. www.health.gov/paguidelines
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Choose myplate. www.choosemyplate.gov
Santa can enjoy fresh blanched cauliflower, fresh peeled and blanched carrots, fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, canned or frozen French style green beans and sliced black olives as a snack. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals that contribute to a healthy diet and can prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. To learn about the nutrition of fruits and vegetables from More Matters, click here.
Santa can also use his smart phone to scan the QR Codes to obtain more detailed information about fruits and vegetables.Fruits: Apples & Oranges Grapes & Bananas Pears & Pineapple Kiwi & Star Fruit Peaches & Plums Strawberries & Cantaloupe Citrus & Cherries Watermelon Vegetables:Onions & Broccoli Celery & Asparagus Leeks & Squash Lettuce & Potatoes Tomato & Corn Garlic & Mushrooms Carrots & Greens Peppers & Parsnips Cabbage & Turnips Cucumber & Jicama Radishes & Cauliflower Green Beans Resources: Fruit and Veggie: More MattersUnited States Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate.govLSU AgCenter.com
We want families to enjoy the holiday season, so it's a good time to remind your children about the importance of keeping hands clean at home and on the go. Children can do their part in helping to keep Santa healthy by cleaning their hands before they jump on his lap to talk about their wish lists this year!-- Wash hands with soap and warm water, scrubbing for 20 seconds.-- When you are on the go and soap and water are not available, use wipes or hand sanitizers available in gel or foam.While you are talking to your children about good hand hygiene, encourage them to draw a picture of Clean your Paws for Santa Claus and display it on your refrigerator during the holidays to remind your family about the importance of good hand hygiene!
-- when preparing food-- before meals and snacks-- after using the restroom-- after touching animals-- when hands are dirty-- when you or someone around you is illContributing author: Alexis NavarroSelected Source:http://www.cleaninginstitute.org
I wanted to know how many extra calories I would be consuming during the upcoming holiday season. I need to keep my weight down so I will be able to fit into my dress for my daughter’s wedding. Starting with Thanksgiving dinner in November, Christmas parties and dinner meals in December and New Year's Eve parties in January, do you have any idea how many extra calories you are consuming? In the next two weeks, I will be attending five Christmas parties. I decided to pace myself, eating more fruits and vegetables instead of chips and dips. I wanted to know if the fruit and vegetable food choices were less calories than the chip and dip choices. I found a calorie counter web page and was in total shock at how many calories were in certain holiday foods. The one celery stalk with cream cheese I ate was 45 calories. Of course there were three on my plate totaling 135 calories for just three pieces of celery and cream cheese. Then I had one glass of sparkling grape juice for a total of 120 calories. Now I have consumed 255 calories for three pieces of celery and one glass of sparkling grape juice. You can see how the calories can add up. I recommend you make a list of possible side dishes and entrees you may be consuming this holiday season, then go to a calorie counter web page and see how many calories will be consumed at that party. After the initial shock is over, you can adjust your party food choices or run ten miles to burn off the extra calories. Here are some examples of party food items and the calories that go with them:
A stalk of celery stuffed with cream cheese that comes to 45 calories. You will need to walk 0.45 miles, 0.72 kilometers, or 900 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
A glass of cider or juice, that comes to 120 calories. You will need to walk 1.2 miles, 1.93 kilometers, or 2,400 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
Half a cup of mixed, raw veggies, that comes to 25 calories. You will need to walk 0.25 miles, 0.40 kilometers, or 500 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
Five large olives, that comes to 92 calories. You will need to walk 0.92 miles, 1.48 kilometers, or 1,840 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
A cup of eggnog, that comes to 343 calories. You will need to walk 3.43 miles, 5.53 kilometers, or 6,860 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
An open-face turkey sandwich with stuffing and gravy, that comes to 290 calories. You will need to walk 2.9 miles, 4.67 kilometers, or 5,800 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
One ounce of potato or tortilla chips, that comes to 150 calories. You will need to walk 1.5 miles, 2.41 kilometers, or 3,000 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
One tablespoon spinach dip, that comes to 53 calories. You will need to walk 0.53 miles, 0.85 kilometers, or 1,060 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
Half a cup of candied sweet potatoes, that comes to 150 calories. You will need to walk 1.5 miles, 2.41 kilometers, or 3,000 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
Half a cup of cranberry sauce, that comes to 190 calories. You will need to walk 1.9 miles, 3.06 kilometers, or 3,800 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
A dinner roll with a pat of butter that comes to 155 calories. You will need to walk 1.55 miles, 2.5 kilometers, or 3,100 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
A turkey sandwich with mayo and cranberry sauce, that comes to 450 calories. You will need to walk 4.5 miles, 7.25 kilometers, or 9,000 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
If you are ok with the food items and calories so far, here is the real eye opener - the dessert calories:
A small piece of fudge, that comes to 70 calories. You will need to walk 0.7 miles, 1.12 kilometers, or 1,400 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
A chocolate-covered cherry, that comes to 75 calories. You will need to walk 0.75 miles, 1.20 kilometers, or 1,500 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
A slice of fruitcake, that comes to 324 calories. You will need to walk 3.24 miles, 5.22 kilometers, or 6,480 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
Slice of pecan pie that comes to 480 calories. You will need to walk 4.8 miles, 7.74 kilometers, or 9,600 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.
Ok, now that you know the amount of calories in the food choices I selected, and how much exercise I will need to do to burn off these calories, you can make your own list and see how many extra calories you will consume during the holiday months. When the shock of the amount wears off, use your pencil and mark off the items you can do without and see if you can keep the calories down during the holidays.
Regardless of government policies, parents still have the power to offer healthy meals and snacks to their children at home. School lunch is only one meal in a student’s day. Parents have the opportunity to make breakfast and dinner (or supper in the South) nutritious and healthy by including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat protein and calcium-rich choices.
Let’s jump on Michelle Obama’s bandwagon to encourage children to choose healthy foods and incorporate 60 minutes of physical activity every day. We have the power to make a positive change in our children by being role models for them. So, eat more greens, y’all. Fall is the time of year that mustard, collard and turnip greens flourish. They are at their best from November through April. When was the last time you prepared greens for your family meal? The Greens Challenge is on!
The Greens Challenge, if you choose to accept it, includes eating greens every day. What are greens? Good question. The answers are numerous, depending upon whom you ask. Greens, in addition to being dark green, do have a leafy quality to them, which distinguishes them from other green vegetables, such as green beans or green peas. So, any dark leafy green is allowed in the challenge. Include kale, collards, turnip, spinach and mustard greens. Greens can be purchased canned, frozen or fresh. Fresh is best because you can control the salt and seasoning in cooking. Fresh greens will need to be rinsed thoroughly to remove all the sand and dirt from harvesting. The gentle cycle of the washing machine has been used by some. For more information on how to clean greens, click here.
Turnip greens are an excellent source of many vitamins including vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, manganese, fiber, calcium and copper. In addition, turnip greens are a very good source of potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2. They are also a good source of phosphorus, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, omega-3 fatty acids and protein.More than nine of 10 Americans consume fewer fruits and vegetables than the daily amount recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines, which ranges from 2 cups to 6½ cups, according to the "Fruits and Veggies -- More Matters" health initiative, a national program aimed at increasing consumption of plant-based foods. So, go in search of greens!
Collard Greens Recipes from www.foodnetwork.com Collard greens nutrition facts from www.nutrition-and-you.com Leafy Greens -- Ranked and Rated from www.webmd.com Go Green. Dark Green, That Is. from www.eatright.org Steps to a Healthier Weight - Choose "nutrient-dense" forms of foods from www.choosemyplate.gov Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 from www.cnpp.usda.gov
* Before purchasing your turkey, make sure you have ample space in your refrigerator, or freezer. Leaving your turkey unrefrigerated on the counter before cooking for several hours is not an option; you do not want to invite bacteria to your holiday celebration.
* There is no quality difference between a fresh or frozen turkey although fresh turkeys have shorter shelf lives. By purchasing a frozen turkey, you can get the turkey in advance and take advantage of special sales.
* When purchasing a whole turkey, purchase at least one pound of uncooked turkey per person. You'll have enough for the feast and for leftovers too.
* Keep in mind that a whole turkey takes about 24 hours per four to five pounds to thaw in the refrigerator. It is ok to purchase your frozen turkey as far in advance as necessary to safely thaw it in the refrigerator. If buying a fresh turkey, purchase it only 1 to 2 days before the meal and keep it refrigerated. For example: a 15-pound frozen bird will take 3 to 4 full days to thaw in the refrigerator.
*Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling the turkey. Wash the cutting board thoroughly before starting a new task.
* Never defrost turkey on the counter! Turkey can be thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water. The refrigerator method is the safest and will result in the best finished product. Leave the bird in the original packaging and place in a shallow pan and allow refrigerator thawing time at a rate of 4 to 5 pounds per 24 hours. To thaw in cold water, keep turkey in the original packaging, place in a clean and sanitized sink or pan and submerge in cold water. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. The turkey will take about 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.
* Once thawed in the refrigerator remove neck and giblets from the body cavities and keep bird and parts refrigerated at 40 °F or below until it is ready to be cooked.
* Stuffing should be prepared and stuffed into the turkey immediately before it's placed in the oven. Mix the wet and dry ingredients for the stuffing separately and combine just before using. Stuff the turkey loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey. All stuffing and dressing recipes must be cooked to a minimum temperature of 165 °F.
* For optimum safety and more even cooking, it’s recommended to cook your stuffing in a casserole dish instead of stuffing it in the bird. If the turkey is done and the stuffing is not yet 165 °F, remove the stuffing from the turkey and place it in a greased casserole dish to continue cooking to temperature.
* Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone. Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.
The outbreak of Listeriosis (Listeria infection) linked to whole Rocky Ford brand cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado is now known to be the deadliest foodborne illness in the past 25 years. A total of 139 people have been infected from 28 states, including 29 reported deaths. According to the CDC the number of cases could increase due to a lag in reporting and the fact that the disease can develop slowly in some people, taking up to about two months.
Unfortunately this outbreak has increased concern about the safety of eating cantaloupe, although cantaloupes supply nutrients with low calories beneficial to health; notably vitamins A and C, B vitamins, potassium and fiber. However, we can still consume cantaloupe safely if we exercise caution and are careful to follow the food safety recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This is especially important for pregnant women, babies, older adults and people with weakened immune systems because they are most vulnerable to Listeria infection.
The CDC recommends that consumers should not eat whole or precut cantaloupe from Jensen farms. When purchasing a whole cantaloupe, check the label on it to ensure that it is not a recalled Rocky Ford brand cantaloupe. If it does not have a sticker, consult the retailer about the origin of the cantaloupe. If the origin is unknown discard it. “When in doubt, throw it out." If you have contaminated cantaloupes that are under recall in your home, dispose of cantaloupes in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people and animals from eating them. Do not attempt to wash off the Listeria, as it is possible the cantaloupe contains Listeria on the inside as well.
The following tips from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will help reduce the risk of foodborne illness:
·When purchasing fresh cantaloupe or any produce for that matter, select ones that are not bruised or damaged. Precut or already washed and bagged produce should be refrigerated or surrounded by ice. Separate fresh fruits and vegetables from meat, poultry and seafood.
·Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling any whole melon, such as cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew.
·Clean cantaloupes and melons in general by scrubbing their surface with a clean produce brush under running water. Dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting.
·Cut away any bruised or damaged portion which may harbor bacteria to avoid becoming ill because refrigerating a cantaloupe will not kill the bacteria, which can grow at low temperatures. Do not try to wash off the bacteria; discard melon that looks rotten.
·Store cut melon in the fridge at or less than 40 degrees F (32-34 degrees F is best), for no more than 7 days. Discard if left at room temperature for over 4 hours.
Clean and sanitize the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator regularly; as well as cutting boards and countertops. Sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water.
ReferencesMultistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Whole Cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, Colorado from www.cdc.gov
How can I reduce my risk for listeriosis? from www.cdc.gov
Produce Safety: Staying Healthy... Staying Safe from www.fda.gov
Tips for Fresh Produce Safety from www.foodsafety.gov
Death toll from tainted cantaloupes rises to 21 from www.cnn.com
Did you know cranberries are good for you?
Raw cranberries have moderate levels of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and the essential dietary mineral, manganese, as well as a balanced profile of other essential micronutrients. Cranberry juice is a major use of cranberries; it is usually either sweetened to make cranberry juice cocktail or blended with other fruit juices to reduce its natural severe tartness. Usually cranberries as fruit are cooked into a compote or jelly, known as cranberry sauce. Such preparations are traditionally served with the Thanksgiving turkey or at Christmas time. The berry is also used in baking (muffins, scones and cakes). Fresh cranberries can be frozen at home, and will keep up to nine months; they can be used directly in recipes without thawing. I love cranberry sauce, either jelled or with the whole berry. One year I received a jar of cranberry sauce as a gift. The person who gave it to me purchased it from a vendor at a farmers market. I wanted to share the sauce with my family but did not have enough, so I came up with a recipe that my family liked and was similar to the gift I was given:
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, unstrained
2 packages (4 oz.) or 1 package (8 oz.) raspberry flavor gelatin
1 can (16 oz.) whole berry cranberry sauce
1 medium apple, chopped
2/3 cup chopped nuts, (I used pecans)
Drain pineapple, reserving all of the liquid. Add enough cold water to the pineapple juice to equal 3 cups total. Heat in microwave oven for 5 minutes or until boiling. Add raspberry flavored gelatin to hot liquid mixture and stir until completely dissolved. Add cranberry sauce and mix until well blended; will be lumpy because of whole cranberries from sauce. Pour into large bowl and refrigerate for 1 ½ hours. Will be slightly thickened; stir in pineapple, apple, and chopped nuts. Pour into serving bowl or glass jars for gift giving. Store in refrigerator.
Makes 14 ½ cup servings at 160 calories per serving. I used sugar free gelatin to keep the calories to a minimum.
With the holidays rapidly approaching, many groups and organizations will be hosting food drives to support food banks and pantries within their communities. In the process of planning for the food drive, consider hosting a healthy food drive.
The goal of a healthy food drive is to collect foods that would allow healthful choices for individuals and families who utilize food banks and pantries. Foods donated should have an emphasis on reducing the amount of sugar, fat and salt in one’s diet in an effort to reduce risk for disease. By providing healthy items to the food bank or pantry, you can create an opportunity for access to healthier foods in an effort to create a healthier community.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines and MyPlate encourage eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat and fat free dairy products and lean protein foods. The following are suggested items to donate from the five food groups and recommendations associated with MyPlate.
Over 2,100 events from across the country from California to New York highlighted the event by organizing food related events to celebrate FOOD DAY.
The LSU AgCenter hopped on board and staged many events in three parishes -- East Baton Rouge, Jefferson and Orleans.
In Baton Rouge Parish, students celebrated FOOD DAY with fun activities. As part of National Food Day, students toured the Body Walk, an exhibit that features different parts of the body and how they are influenced by the foods we eat. The goal was to make children aware that the choices they make affect their health.
The Jefferson Parish LSU AgCenter Extension Agents presented the Germ Cave to participants at a Share Fair hosted by the Jefferson Parish School Health Advisory Committee at the Jefferson Parish Library to highlight Food Day. Proper hand washing techniques were outlined along with showing how bacteria can be cross contaminated from person to person and spread through the air. The Fight Bac Brochures and the Cooking to the Proper Temperature handouts were distributed.As part of the October 24 FOOD DAY celebration, the LSU AgCenter Orleans Parish Extension office exhibited Family Nutrition Night Kits to increase the awareness of childhood and adult obesity. The Family Nutrition Night Kits were displayed in the New Orleans City Hall lobby targeting employees and visitors. The kits exhibited included the “Low Down on Snacks,” focusing on how to read the nutrition facts label to identify nutritious snacks. "Rethink your Drink" was also one of the three kits displayed focusing on recognizing sugary and high fat beverages that offer more calories than nutrition. The third kit on “Portion Distortion” focused on right sizing your portion to bring attention to portion sizes and what counts as a serving in each of the five food groups.References:www.foodday.orgSafe Food Handling from www.fightbac.orgStudents learn about healthful food choices from www.lsuagcenter.com
Have you been thinking about composting, but are not really sure of how to do so or what goes into a compost pile? While making compost may seem like a complex art, it is actually quite simple. The actual transformation from waste to compost happens due to tiny creatures ranging from worms to microbes that break it all down. Composting not only minimizes the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, but also converts it into a very useful gardening product.
Where should you make your compost pile?
You can make compost in a simple covered pile in the corner of your yard for easy accessibility. Boxes or bins tend to look neater and can be made out of just about anything ranging from wood pallets to bricks to fencing. You can really get creative with this. They can also be purchased in many different styles and sizes. Whichever is used, pile or bin/boxes, it should be seated on bare soil or grass and not on a hard surface of slab.
What goes into my compost pile?
What to avoid?
Why can’t these avoided foods be composted?
Any good compost needs an equal mixture of “greens” and “browns." Greens refer to materials that are quick to rot such as grass mowings, kitchen scraps, and green leaves. Browns refer to materials that are dry and slow to decompose such as straw, sawdust, paper, tree trimmings, etc. If your compost seems to be wet and smelly, add more browns; if your pile is dry, add more greens. It’s as simple as that! Once you have been making compost for a while, you will get a feel for the right mixture.
Compost is ready when it looks like dark soil and the original ingredients are unrecognizable. Happy composting!
The 5th Annual Southern Obesity Summit was held in New Orleans, October 2-5, 2011. The event featured peer based solutions to counteract the epidemic of obesity in 16 southern states. With the overall focus of the summit on health and wellness, the event also featured a working session for the Louisiana team each day.
Three Southeast Region agents were chosen to present concurrent sessions. Emelia Clement presented a session on her successful partnership with a local farmers market. Ms. Clement has collaborated with the Sankofa farmers market in Orleans parish to provide much needed nutrition education. Valerie Vincent presented a session entitled ‘A Community on the Move, the impact of organizing, mobilizing, and moving a community.’ The session detailed the impact of the Washington Parish on the Move program which was based on the America on the Move model. Karen Walker presented ‘Life is a Gumbo-Teaching Salubrious Teens.’ The program describes “the variety and abundance of foods and recipes that are available to individuals. Culture and family influence a person’s eating patterns throughout life,” stated Walker.
For more information on the Southern Obesity Summit, click here.
When asked what Halloween means, kids usually put candy at the top of their list. But research shows that given a choice between treats and toys, kids will often prefer the toys. Encourage people to choose miniature toys, stickers and nonfood favors as their treats to dispense to the costumed trick-or-treaters who come to their doors on Halloween. Temporary tattoos, bracelets and rings, whistles, pencils, coupons to food establishments or pennies and nickels are also welcome gifts. Non-sweet food suggestions include peanut butter and cracker packages, sugar-free gum, cereal bars, individually wrapped sticks of beef jerky, juice box packages, small packages of dried fruit and packets of instant cocoa mix. Some foods such as nuts and seeds and round or hard candy are not appropriate for small children because they may cause choking. You can still have fun with Halloween treats without contributing to dental decay or obesity:
Ideas to help adults cope with Halloween candy include:
Halloween Party PopcornCombine popcorn with your choice of the following ingredients:
By mixing Halloween candy with popcorn, you cut back on the total amount of candy offered. Serve with a scoop from a large bowl or fill a self-closing sandwich bag with popcorn mixture for each child. Popcorn is a good choice for healthy eating. A cup of popcorn (popped) contains only 31 calories when popped without added fat. Popcorn provides fiber, or roughage, that the body needs in the daily diet. Contributing authors: Cynthia Clifton and Beth Reames, Ph.D.
Breastfeeding offers both mother and child wonderful benefits! With a strong lifelong bond and the fantastic health benefits for both mom and baby, breastfeeding provides perfect nutrition for baby, not to mention the savings.
Right from the start, mother and child develop a close personal relationship, forming a strong emotional bond. A mother is more engaged with her baby, and the child is provided with a sense of security that encourages healthy relationships in the future.
Breast milk has disease fighting antibodies and other anti-infectious agents that are important for baby’s overall health. Health issues which breast milk protect against include diarrhea, respiratory infections, ear infections, viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), acute chronic bronchitis, wheezing, general morbidity, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), AIDS, gastro esophageal reflex, multiple sclerosis and inguinal hernia. Breastfed infants show a better response to vaccines than formula-fed infants.
Research also shows that children who had consumed mother’s milk in early weeks of life had a significantly higher IQ at 7.5 to 8 years of age than those who received no maternal milk.
Your baby’s perfect food has three distinct stages. Colostrum, the early milk produced right after birth is a creamy yellow color and much thicker than the milk produced in the later stages. Colostrum is high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antibodies. The antibodies help to protect the baby from many illness-causing germs in the environment. The transitional milk, which is produced between two and five days after birth until ten to fourteen days after birth, contains high levels of fat, lactose and vitamins to help the baby regain any weight lost after birth. The third stage is the mature milk which is produced after the first two weeks until the baby is weaned from the breast. The mature milk is ninety percent water which hydrates the baby. The other ten percent is made up of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats which are necessary for both growth and energy. The mature milk consists of two types: foremilk and hind milk. The foremilk is produced in the beginning of each feeding and contains water, vitamins and protein. The hind milk is higher in fat. Both types of mature milk are necessary to ensure that baby is receiving adequate nutrition to grow and develop properly.
Breastfeeding not only is great for the baby but also has benefits for the mother. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of some health problems including breast cancer and type 2 diabetes. Breastfeeding promotes postpartum weight loss. Prolonged lactation helps to promote the spacing of children by decreasing, but not always preventing, fertilization.
Breastfeeding is quite economical. Baby formula for one child costs $800 to $1,200 per year. When babies are healthy there are fewer visits to the doctor and fewer prescription costs. Mothers remain healthier and take fewer sick days to care for themselves and their babies.
What a wonderful way to develop that strong emotional bond with your baby and enjoy the special time together! References: US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, www.womenshealth.gov
Capture the imagination. Make it fun. Your attitude sets the tone!
These statements could coincide with numerous tasks. It was a common theme in the “Changing the Face of our Children’s Plate” Conference we attended in Charleston, South Carolina, in the middle of August, 2011.
The question remains as nutrition educators: How do we encourage children to make healthy food choices? Depending on the age group, skill level, and number of students, lesson plans will vary. The more we include all of our senses: smell, touch, sight, taste and hearing, the more information is retained by the student.
Consider the following points when planning a lesson:
1. What is the purpose of your lesson?
2. Use words and language students can understand.
3. Incorporate fun and competition.
4. Include a variety of skills from dump and pour to measuring exactly with measuring cups.
5. Provide boundaries and rules, while still having fun.
6. Create a “calmly” excited atmosphere in the classroom.
7. Keep lessons simple, short, and with lots of varied tasks.
8. Offer lots of direction for the younger children and more team building for older kids.
9. Relate lessons to familiar knowledge like numbers, colors, and shapes for the younger groups.
10. Challenge motor skills and include more socialization to encourage success in older children.
11. Introduce authentic flavors through the Flight of Flavors exercises (variety of citrus).
12. Investigate the language of food by evaluating texture, color, shape, smell, taste/aftertaste/flavor, and temperature of foods.
13. Challenge children with recipes, incorporating simple cooking skills if appropriate.
14. Explain the sources of foods and plan a school garden with the students, if possible.
Cooking is usually not included in the curriculum in elementary schools, so how can we create a learning environment that will encourage children to consume a variety of healthy food?
The answer is this: Capture the imagination. Make it fun. Your attitude sets the tone!
Include a food demonstration that is stimulating to the taste and the mind, so children can experience food first hand. Sampling introduces and encourages children to consume a larger variety of foods.
Field to Plate, Flights of Flavor, Creative Approaches to Fresh Food Education by Amanda Archibald
Edible education for a future Generation hosted by Amanda Archibald
Charleston area Children’s Garden project, James Island, SC, www.childrensgardenproject.org
Charleston Cooks! Kids in the Kitchen by Danielle Wecksler and Emily Kimbrough
Men, food is more than just a meal. The food you eat can keep you looking younger, feeling good, and can help keep disease away. The way you eat can determine how well you age throughout your life.
This blog is for you! Nutrition information is just as important for men as it is for women to help you stay strong and live a healthy lifestyle. It’s about eating right and getting plenty of exercise for good health.
There are certain health conditions that only affect men, such as prostate cancer and low testosterone. Many of the major health risks that men face including colon cancer and heart disease are preventable with early diagnosis and treatment. Proper nutrition can also play a role in reducing risk for these health conditions.
What does it mean for men to eat right to stay healthy? Eating right for men means eating nutritious foods that give you energy and reduce your risk for certain diseases. Men should focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free milk products. Learning how to read food labels will help men make better food choices.
Men should have at least 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables every day. Add tomatoes at least once a week or products made with tomatoes such as pasta sauce. Tomato products are a good source of the antioxidant lycopene and are beneficial for prostate health.
Men should choose five 1-ounce servings of whole grains every day. Limit refined grains by replacing them with whole grain bread, cereal, pasta, brown rice or oats.
Add two to three servings of fish per week to your diet. Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fat which is linked to heart disease.
Choose foods that are high in fiber. Younger men should add at least 38 grams of fiber per day and men older than 50 should add at least 30 grams of fiber per day.
Avoid solid fats and added sugars, “SoFAS." Choose unsaturated fats like oils, nuts and salad dressings instead of saturated fats like full-fat dairy foods (i.e. regular milk, cheese, ice cream), butter and high-fat sweets like cakes, pies, and pastries.
Fruits, vegetables, fish, and milk are good sources of potassium. Make sure to eat plenty of these to meet the 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day.
Men have more muscle than women and are generally bigger. Therefore, they need more calories or energy throughout the day.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can raise your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Find out your body mass index, or BMI, to determine if you are at risk. Eat healthy foods, control portion sizes, and be active to keep your weight under control.
Stay active. Regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Find out how much physical activity you need.
Men’s ability to stay strong and live longer is not just a matter of genetics or luck. They must take charge of their health. By eating properly and getting regular exercise, men can enjoy a long and healthful life full of energy and vitality.
1. Men's Health, American Dietetic Association
2. Men's Health, MedlinePlus
3. Tips for men for a healthy life (womenshealth.gov)
Back to School for Kids Means Parent Involvement
The dog days of summer are nearing an end. It’s time to bring on the sound of the early morning school bell. Children as well as parents should begin preparing for a successful and enjoyable school year. When parents become actively involved in their children’s schoolwork by supporting, guiding and providing the appropriate resources, their children are more likely to be successful learners.
Children need to know that their parents are interested in their school performance. Maintain regular contact with your child’s teachers. Discuss your child’s progress and understand the teacher’s expectations of your child. Attend school activities such as parent-teacher conferences, plays, open houses and sports events. Volunteer to help in your child’s classroom. You don’t have to present in the classroom; you may offer to assist the teacher by cutting out support material for various lessons or may offer to organize the class phone tree to disseminate emergency information.
There are many free services provided by the state of Louisiana to assist school aged children who may have a need that cannot be met by the individual teacher or school administrator. Visit the Louisiana Department of Education website at www.doe.state.la.us to obtain information on services that are available to assist your child and his school productivity.
Prior to the beginning of school, sit with your child and develop a routine that will be consistently followed during school days relating to play, snacks and homework. All children need to have some time to relax following a long school day prior to beginning homework. Fifteen to thirty minutes may be just what your child needs to unwind and become ready to hit the books one last time.
Have nutritious snacks such as fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese and crackers or ice cream available. Refrain from serving candy and cookies as sugar should be limited. Children return from school ravenous and enjoy something quick. Good nutrition and good health are keys to helping concentration and avoiding fatigue.
Designate a specific quiet place in your home with good lighting for homework to be completed. Sitting at the kitchen table where television is a distraction may extend the homework time from 15 minutes to an hour. Some children can concentrate better with soft music in the background. However, loud music is unacceptable.
When you and your child set a regular time for homework to begin and end there will be less resentment on the part of the child to get the work accomplished. What works well for one household may not work well for another. Homework should be completed well before bedtime.
Encourage the child to divide the assignments into two categories: what can be done alone and what he needs help with. Be available to answer questions and review completed assignments. Parents may review the written work to ensure completion, help practice math concepts or spelling words and ask questions relating to reading assignments to check comprehension.
Praise the child for completing assignments in a thorough and timely manner. Recognize accomplishments rather than failures.
Become familiar with the child’s learning style. Some children learn through sight, others through sound while others must write to learn. And remember that your learning style may be different from your child’s learning style.
By providing adequate resources such as a dictionary, sharpened pencils, pens and paper your child will not have to leave his studying to look for necessary supplies. Offer to accompany the child to a public library to use the computer if there is no access to the internet at home. Be aware of what your child is doing on the internet. Monitoring internet activities protects your child from possible harm.
Show the child that the skills he is learning are an important part of the things he will do as an adult. Let him see you reading books, newspapers, and computer screens; writing emails and lists or using math to balance your check book.
School days means team time. Parental involvement will lead to your child’s school success.
US Department of Education Publication Helping Your Child with Homework. Downloaded October 8, 2010 from http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/homework/homeworktips.pdf
LSU AgCenter (August 3, 2010) Parents Can Aid Homework Success. Downloaded August 4, 2010 from:
At least once a week on any given school day kids bring their lunch to school because they do not like what is being served in the cafeteria. The problem with some lunches brought from home is they are subjected to temperature extremes. Varying temperatures can lead to food poisoning. Make sure to pack your lunch in an insulated lunch pack with an ice pack so foods stay cool. Make sure if you are reheating any foods to do so thoroughly.
Foods that Must Be Kept Cold:
· Meats, fish, poultry, eggs cooked beans or sandwiches and salads made with these foods
Foods That Are Safe At Room Temperature
One of the key messages of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines is to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables (F&V). They are a major contributor of essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals), fiber and phytochemicals to the diet and have relatively lower calories when prepared without added fats or sugars. In addition, consumption of F&V has been associated with reduced risk of some chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Some nutrients like vitamins B, C and folate are destroyed by heat - so it is important not to overcook them.
The best preparation methods for F&V are those that help F&V retain most of their nutrients, that is, methods that expose them to heat for the least amount of time and use the least amount of water so nutrients do not leach into the surrounding water. Eating them raw is the best - washed and cut up or preparing salads and smoothies. This way you can also enjoy their natural sweetness. With smoothies and salads you can combine a variety of F&V to obtain many nutrients. One of the best ways to prepare F&V is to microwave them. Use the least amount of water and cover to retain the steam. To make things easier, you can purchase bagged vegetables that you just microwave. Steaming is another way to get the most nutrients from your vegetables. Invest in an electric steamer, a double pan with holes in the inner pan or a holder with holes in it to place in your current pan. Another healthful way to prepare vegetables is to stir-fry because they are exposed to heat for a very short time and very little oil is used. Avoid cooking them until they are mushy to retain their nutrients.
Fruit and Veggie guru.com
Fruits & Veggies, More Matters.
1. Have all your ingredients ready to mix together. 2. Warm the oil, apple juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt. Stir to combine. 3. Pour the liquid mixture over the oats and seeds and mix well.4. Spread the granola out on 1 large or 2 smaller lined baking trays.5. Stir in the cranberries or raisins and bake for 15 minutes.6. Cool, then store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Looking for the best granola recipe? Try this easy homemade granola recipe packed with fiber, nuts, seeds, and fruit. Check back soon for more of the best healthy, crunchy, and chewy granola recipes. Makes 20 ½ cup servings· 8 cups rolled oats, or old fashioned oats · 1 1/2 cups wheat germ · 1 1/2 cups oat bran · 1/2 cup sunflower seeds · 1 cup finely chopped almonds · 1 cup finely chopped pecans · 1 cup finely chopped walnuts · 1 cup shredded coconut · 1/4 cup packed brown sugar · 1/2 teaspoon salt · 1/2 cup maple syrup · 1/2 cup honey · 1/2 cup applesauce · 1/2 cup vegetable oil or coconut oil · 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon · 1 teaspoon vanilla extract · 2 cups raisins or sweetened dried cranberries, or craisins
DirectionsPreheat oven to 320 degrees F and line two large baking sheets with baking parchment paper or aluminum foil. In a large bowl, add the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, seeds, nuts and coconut. Mix thoroughly. In a medium saucepan, add the brown sugar, salt, maple syrup, honey, applesauce, oil, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly then bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat then mix in the vanilla. Being careful not to burn yourself, pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat. Evenly spread the granola onto the baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven 20 - 25 minutes or until it reaches your desired level of tastiness. Stir every 5 - 7 minutes. Be careful not to burn it. NOTE: The granola will clump and harden while cooling - not during baking. Allow to cool before stirring in the raisins, cranberries, or craisins. If stored in an airtight container, your granola could last for 2 weeks.
Potty Training: Now or Later
Quite often parents are ready to have their children potty trained long before the child is physically and emotionally ready to use the toilet on his own. Many parents feel pressured to potty train their children because of strict school enrollment policies; the inconvenience and expense of diapering; or urging for other parents, family members, teachers, or pediatricians.
Learning to toilet often becomes an unnecessary struggle for control between parent and child. Adults must realize that forced training can have major emotional effects on children. The entire process – from diapering infants to teaching preschoolers how to use the toilet – should be a positive one.
Toileting cannot be successful until the child has the ability to control the bladder and bowel functions. Some two year olds are successfully potty trained while others are well into their third year before completely being trained. Older children who sleep very soundly often have accidents during the night. These children should be allowed to use diapers or pull-ups until they have full control of their body functions.
There are two common approaches to toileting:
1. Training approach: the child is introduced to the idea of using the toilet by an adult, usually a parent. Cues for when to begin under this approach, seem to be the child’s age in relationship to a parent’s experience (my mother said I was potty trained at one year of age), parent convenience, or pressure to meet a requirement to enroll in preschool.
2. Developmental approach: when using this method the parent takes into account the child’s interest, capability and coordination before potty training is begun. An observant parent will see the child begin transitions from wearing diapers to learning how and when to use the toilet. Cues include:
a. Tugging at the diaper
b. Going to a private area to urinate or have a bowel movement in the diaper
c. Wanting to observe older toddler practicing the process or observing a parent using the toilet
d. Practicing taking steps backwards to sit on a potty chair even when fully clothed
The purpose of learning to use the toilet is to help children gain control of their body functions. If a child is ready, the process can provide a sense of success and achievement. If a child is not ready, the process can lead to great embarrassment and a sense of failure.
Children are most likely ready to begin toilet learning when they:
Adults must be ready and willing to work with the child as he begins the training process. Accidents will happen! Parents and caregivers must be patient and supportive. Be ready to change the child without any scolding, punishment or lecturing. Encourage the child that he is doing well and will get even better with practice.
If a child is in a child development center or shares homes with individual parents it is recommended that the parents and child care provider decide together when the child may be ready to begin potty training. Together negotiate a plan that will be consistent and manageable in both the home(s) and care center. Questions that should be discussed include:
Parents and care professionals should exchange information on the words for body functions most preferred by each child. This will avoid confusion and provide a consistent message at home(s) and in the child development center.
Success in learning how to toilet is a major accomplishment for the child. Adult patience and praise is an extremely important component to the child’s healthy emotional and physical development. Each child will provide signals as to when he is ready to begin this learning process. Good communication, appropriate expectations and a consistent plan by the parent will make this transition a smooth one.
References: Practical Solutions to Practically Every Problem by Stefen Saifer, Readleaf Press
Healthy Young Children: A manual for Programs by A.B. Kendrick, R. Kaufman, and K.P. Messenger, NAEYC#704
Character Development: Encouraging Self-Esteem and Self Discipline in Infants, Toddlers, and Two Year Olds by P Greenberg. NAEYC # 75
The LSU AgCenter has a new educational tool in their Food Safety Educational Tool Box.
The Germ Cave is dark, mysterious, and fun. The Germ Cave, more importantly, teaches participants the important techniques of proper hand washing, keeping food safe, and cleaning and sanitizing food surfaces. The brainchild of two LSU AgCenter agents, the Germ Cave consists of four black plastic walls held together on a metal tent frame that most people associate with tailgating. Two panels of the Germ Cave sport four bacteria “characters” with the words: Remember to Wash Your Hands! The LSU AgCenter logo and SNAP Ed logo flank the bottom.
Inside, the room is transformed into a black light filled wonderland of small stuffed animal-like bacteria and glowing balloons hanging from the ceiling. Glow in the dark hand prints cover one wall and instructions for proper hand washing fill another wall. Several agar plates illustrate growing bacteria, which are displayed on a table, along with the Fight Bac! hand out for participants.
As participants enter the Germ Cave, they are offered a High Five by the leader, showing how quickly bacteria cross contaminate, or transfer from hand to hand. Everyone’s hand glows under the black light, because the leader applies a phosphorescent lotion on her hands before the participants step into the Germ Cave.
The LSU AgCenter’s Germ Cave is a resource to make everyone aware that foodborne bacteria can make you sick. Also, foodborne illness can strike anyone, and those of higher risk include pregnant women, young children, older adults and those people with weakened immune systems.What are the 4 Simple Steps to Food Safety?
1. Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often. 2. Separate: Avoid cross-contamination.
3. Cook: Cook to proper temperatures.
4. Chill: Refrigerate promptly.
1. LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com; Clean Hands Will Keep Food Safe
2. FIGHT BAC! Keep Food Safe From Bacteria @ www.fightbac.org
3. Food & Drug Administration @ www.fda.gov
5. USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-888-674-6854
There’s nothing new about protecting your garden from birds, but some gardeners are always looking to explore new and useful materials, especially if those materials are being recycled. This garden craft will certainly be fun and help scare those pesky birds away. You need a Scare Owl! The bright light reflects off this owl's CD-eyes to help scare away birds that try to make a crash landing in your garden or even your windows.
What You Will Need:
· 2 old CDs/DVDs
· 2 large wiggle eyes
· White craft glue
· Light-brown craft foam
· Dark-brown craft foam
· Black craft foam
· Hole punch
· 1-foot piece of thin ribbon (or string)
Let’s Put It Together:
1. Lay the CDs in the center of the light-brown craft foam. Glue in place. Glue a wiggle eye in the center of each CD. Let dry for several hours.
2. For the head: Draw an oval with "ears" (as shown) around the outside of the CDs/DVDs and cut it out.
3. For the forehead: Cut out a large triangle from dark-brown craft foam. Glue it on top of the CDs, as shown.
4. For the beak: Cut out a beak shape from black craft foam. Then glue it on top of the dark-brown triangle, as shown.
5. Let forehead and beak dry for several hours.
6. Punch a small hole at the top of the head. Thread a piece of ribbon through it and tie the ends in a knot. Now Scare Owl is ready to hang.
Hang this scare owl from a tree near your garden or even an old window hatch, and those birds might think twice before enjoying your garden veggies.
Sources:Walker, R. (2010). Make a scare owl. Retrieved from (National Wildlife Federation) http://www.nwf.org/
Kruger, Anna. (2008). Grow organic. New York, New York: DK Publishing.
Zucchini, like all squash, has its ancestry in the Americas. However, the varieties of squash typically called "zucchini" were developed in Italy, many generations after their introduction from the "New World."
Zucchini is one of the easiest fruits to cultivate in temperate climates. As such, it has a reputation among home gardeners for overwhelming production. One good way to control overabundance is to harvest the flowers, which are an expensive delicacy in markets because of the difficulty in storing and transporting them. The male flower is borne on the end of a stalk and is longer lived.
While easy to grow, zucchini, like all squash, requires plentiful bees for pollination. In areas of pollinator decline or high pesticide use, such as mosquito-spray districts, gardeners often experience fruit abortion, where the fruit begins to grow, then dries or rots. This is due to an insufficient number of pollen grains delivered to the female flower. It can be corrected by hand pollination or by increasing the bee population.
Closely related to zucchini are Lebanese summer squash or kusa, but they often are lighter green or even white. Some seed catalogs do not distinguish them. Various varieties of round zucchinis are grown in different countries under different names, such as "Tondo di Piacenza" in Italy and "Ronde de Nice" in France. In the late 1990s American producers in California cultivated and began marketing round yellow and green zucchini known as "8-ball" squash (the yellow ones are sometimes known as "1-ball" or "gold ball"). White zucchini (summer squash) is sometimes seen as a mutation and can appear on the same plant as its green counterpart.
The zucchini fruit is low in calories (approximately 15 food calories per 100 g fresh zucchini) and contains useful amounts of foliate (24 mcg/100 g), potassium (280 mg/100 g) and vitamin A (384 IU [115 mcg]/100 g. A 1/2 cup of zucchini also contains 19% of the recommended amount of manganese.
When used for food, zucchini are usually picked when under 20 cm (8 in.) in length, when the seeds are still soft and immature. Mature zucchini can be as much as three feet long, but the larger ones are often fibrous and with the flowers attached are a sign of a truly fresh and immature fruit, and are especially sought by many people.
Unlike cucumber, zucchini is usually served cooked. It can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflés. It also can be baked into bread, zucchini bread or incorporated into a cake mix. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.
Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake Recipe
Nutrition Facts: 1 piece equals 172 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 33 mg cholesterol, 223 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat.
Figs are a good source of fruit sugars for energy. A small, fresh fig (1 1/2 inches in diameter) contains 30 calories; a medium fig has 37 calories. Figs are low in fat, saturated fat and sodium and are cholesterol-free. They are a good source of dietary fiber, natural sugars, iron, calcium and potassium. They have a laxative effect because of the roughage of the seedy fiber and a Proteolytic enzyme, ficin.
• Figs contain a natural proteolytic enzyme, ficin (this is why fig juice might irritate the skin).• Gelatin salads will not set if raw figs are added because the natural enzyme, ficin, breaks down the gelatin (which is protein). Heat inactivates the enzyme. • Ascorbic acid or a commercial color control mixture added to figs helps protect the color during storage.
Enjoy fresh figs while they last for eating “out-of-hand," as a morning eye-opener served chilled and sliced in a bowl with yogurt, in fruit salads, in homemade ice cream, and as a dessert or snack.
Figs freeze well with or without sugar, peeled or unpeeled. They should be fully ripe for best flavor. Wash ripe figs thoroughly, remove stems, peel if desired, leave whole or cut in half. Freeze with or without sugar syrup. Freeze figs firm-ripe and whole for making preserves later.
In syrup: Make syrup by dissolving 1 cup sugar in 2 cups water. Allow 1 cup syrup for each quart of figs. To keep fruit from darkening, stir ¾ teaspoon of crystalline ascorbic acid into each quart of syrup, or use a commercial ascorbic acid mixture according to instructions on label. Fill containers about ¼ full of syrup; pack fresh figs solidly in container. Cover with syrup, leaving 1 inch headspace. Crumple waxed paper and place on top of figs in headspace. This helps keep figs under syrup. Seal airtight. Freeze immediately; store at zero degrees F.
Without sugar: Sprinkle figs with ascorbic acid mixture dissolved in a little water. Place figs on a baking sheet; freeze quickly. Remove individually frozen figs and pack tightly in freezer bags or containers. Avoid air pockets between figs, if possible. Crumple waxed paper and place in headspace, or cover surface snugly with plastic film. Seal airtight and store in freezer at zero F.
Freezing for preserves: If you prefer to “clean” unpeeled figs before making preserves, bring figs to a boil in hot water, let stand 3 to 4 minutes, drain. Cool and freeze.
Simple methods of food preservation can help you enjoy figs all year long.
Grandma’s Fig Preserves
2 quarts peeled figs, 6 cups sugar
2 cups water; 1 lemon, sliced
Sort figs, using ripe figs but not cracked ones. Wash and peel with a sharp knife, wearing rubber gloves. Make heavy syrup of sugar and water in a large kettle. Stir and heat slowly until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and bring to a boil 3 or 4 minutes. Add sliced lemon and peeled figs. Cook on medium heat (a good, but gentle boil) until clear and transparent, usually about 1½ hours. Do not stir; lift gently from bottom or shake pot. Fill sterilized jars with boiling figs and syrup to within ¼ inch of top. Wipe sealing edge clean and seal. Process in boiling water canner for 5 minutes. Peeling figs takes longer, but once you taste the beautiful, clear preserves, you will agree it’s worth the time. (Dr. Ruth Patrick’s recommendation.) If figs are not peeled, wash, drain and cook the same way. For a brighter color, clean figs by bringing to a boil in hot water. Let stand 3 minutes; drain, then add to boiling syrup. Using frozen figs: Place frozen figs in large kettle, add sugar and water and heat slowly until figs thaw. Add sliced lemon if desired, bring to a boil and cook as above.
3 quarts figs, 4 cups sugar
3 quarts boiling water, 1½ quarts water
2 lemons, thinly sliced (optional)
Pour 3 quarts boiling water over figs. Let stand 15 minutes. Drain and discard liquid. Rinse figs in cold water and drain. Prepare syrup by mixing sugar, 1½ quarts water and lemon. Boil rapidly 10 minutes. Skim syrup; remove and discard lemon slices. Drop figs carefully into the boiling hot syrup, a few at a time. Cook rapidly until figs are transparent. Remove figs and place in shallow pan. Boil syrup until thick, pour over figs and let stand 6 to 8 hours. Sterilize canning jars. Reheat figs and syrup to boiling. Pour hot preserves into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process half-pints or pints in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes. Yield: About 10 half-pint jars.
Strawberry-flavored Fig Jam
When figs are very ripe, try this recipe for fig jam (strawberry or blackberry- flavored).
6 cups mashed figs (about 9 heaping cups, whole)
6 cups sugar
4 small packages (2 large) strawberry-flavored gelatin
½ lemon, sliced
Add sugar, gelatin and lemon to figs. Bring slowly to boil, and boil 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Fill sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch of top. Process in boiling water canner 5 minutes.
We all know what anger is, and we've all felt it, whether as a fleeting annoyance or as full-fledged rage.
Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you're at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. This information is meant to help you understand and control anger.
Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.
People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn't mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.
Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behavior. The danger in this type of response is that if it isn't allowed outward expression, your anger can turn inward—on yourself. Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.
Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven't learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren't likely to have many successful relationships.
Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behavior, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.
The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes. You can't get rid of, or avoid, the things or the people that enrage you, nor can you change them, but you can learn to control your reactions.
Hypnosis ABC (2009). Web Hosting Bluebook.
2011 American Psychological Association.
Contributing author: Alexis O. Navarro
Breast feeding offers both mother and child wonderful benefits! With a strong lifelong bond and the fantastic health benefits for both mom and baby, breast feeding provides perfect nutrition for baby, not to mention the savings.
Breast milk has disease fighting antibodies and other anti-infectious agents that are important for Baby’s overall health. Health issues which breast milk protect against include diarrhea, respiratory infections, ear infections, viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), acute chronic bronchitis, wheezing, general morbidity, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), AIDS, gastro esophageal reflex, multiple sclerosis and inguinal hernia. Breastfed infants show a better response to vaccines than formula-fed infants.
Breast feeding not only is great for the baby but also has benefits for the mother. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of some health problems including breast cancer and type 2 diabetes. Breastfeeding promotes postpartum weight loss. Prolonged lactation helps to promote the spacing of children by decreasing but not always preventing, fertilization.Breastfeeding is quite economical. Baby formula for one child costs $800 to $1,200 per year. When babies are healthy there are fewer visits to the doctor and fewer prescription costs. Mothers remain healthier and take fewer sick days to care for themselves and their babies.
What a wonderful way to develop that strong emotional bond with your baby and enjoy the special time together!
References: US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health
As another school year rapidly approaches, it is important to begin with a good start. One way parents can assure that their children can have a successful school year is to incorporate healthful food choices into their routine.
Good nutrition is a part of a positive learning process. While preparing for school to begin, parents can use the following tips to help students have healthy bodies and active minds.
The new school year is an opportunity to start with new healthful habits that can earn the all A’s for the entire family.
If you ask most children what their favorite food is, they just might say PIZZA! Well, why not add a healthy and educational twist to it and incorporate it into a fun garden activity? Themed gardens make things a little more fun and interesting and will definitely get children more involved. Why not make the gardening experience tastier with a theme!
Types of Themed Gardens:Pizza Garden – items used in pizza – tomatoes, bell pepper, onions, garlic, chives, oregano.Kitchen Garden – vegetables and herbs used in cooking – squash, tomato, beans, broccoli, cucumber, parsley.
Herb / Sensory Garden – basil, mint, thyme, oregano, rosemary, lemon grass.
Butterfly Garden – plants that attract butterflies – purple coneflower, bee balm, butterfly bush, butterfly weed, zinnias.
Craft Garden – plants that provide materials for art projects – gourds, sunflowers, pansies, dry beans, corn.
Salsa Garden – ingredients used in salsa – Chile pepper, tomato, onion, cilantro, tomatillo.
Rainbow Garden – the colors of the rainbow – zinnias, sunflowers, purple coneflower, marigolds, pansies.
Literacy Garden – plants found in children’s literature– blackberries, lettuce, beans, radish, parsley, cabbages, potatoes, onions.
Native American – plant a Three Sisters garden – corn, beans, squash.
International Garden – plants native to other countries around the world – okra, watermelon, collards, Pac Choi, peppers, potatoes.
Alphabet Garden – create an ABC garden with plants that represent the alphabet – alyssum, basil, corn, dill, eggplant, fennel, geranium.
“Prepare for the worst and hope for the best!” is a favorite saying of my parents during the months of June – November. Coastal areas call this time period Hurricane Season. This is a time to prepare for wind, rain, and possibly an evacuation.
The LSU AgCenter agrees and that is why the website www.LSUAgCenter.com has a wealth of information concerning preparation for storms & floods: Preparing Your Evacuation “Grab and Go” Box; What’s a 3-day Emergency Food Supply?; Answer These 20 Questions to Find Out If You're Ready for a Hurricane; Play It Safe with Food; Take Steps to Protect What’s in Your Refrigerator/ Freezer Before a Storm; Stock Up on Hurricane Supplies Now; Sample Menu for a three-day food supply.Suggestions: Include ready-to-eat canned or packaged meats, beans & fish (sardines, tuna, salmon), fruits packed in natural juice, canned vegetables, canned or powdered milk, 100% juice boxes, and plenty of water. Nuts (including nut butters such as peanut butter or nutella) and seeds, dried fruit, dry cereal, breakfast bars do not need refrigeration and will last for weeks.
Boy Scouts call it being prepared. The LSU AgCenter calls it being smart. You can be prepared, too. All it takes is proper planning, cooperation, and some effort. Navigate the website and you will find a wealth of information to help you during hurricane season.
NOTE: go to: www.lsuagcenter.com/en/communications/news/Storm+Flood+News/ for these articles and more information.
And yes, now that you are prepared… it is better to be safe than sorry and hope for the best.
HELLLOOOOO SUMMERTIME!!! Watermelon Wisdom …
Watermelon is everyone’s favorite summer fruit, or is it? Did you know that the Watermelon isn’t even a fruit? Yeah, neither did we. Here are ten other interesting facts about Watermelon guaranteed to impress fellow picnic guests.
Ten Facts You Never Knew About Watermelon:
1. Not only does it quench your thirst, it can also quench inflammation that contributes to conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and arthritis.
2. Over 1,200 varieties of watermelon are grown worldwide.
3. Watermelon is an ideal health food because it doesn’t contain any fat or cholesterol, is high in fiber and vitamins A & C and is a good source of potassium.
4. Pink watermelon is also a source of the potent carotenoid antioxidant, lycopene. These powerful antioxidants travel through the body neutralizing free radicals.
5. Watermelon is a vegetable! It is related to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
6. Early explorers used watermelon as canteens.
7. Watermelon is grown in over 96 countries worldwide.
8. In China and Japan watermelon is a popular gift to bring a host.
9. In Israel and Egypt, the sweet taste of watermelon is often paired with the salty taste of feta cheese.
10. Every part of a watermelon is edible, even the seeds and rinds.
Watermelon is thought to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of Africa.
For a long time, watermelon has been taken for granted as a sweet, tasty summertime fruit, made of sugar and water, and nothing more. Over the years, nutritionists, medical professionals, scientists and researchers have taken an interest to find out more about watermelon’s health benefits.
Nutritionists have long appreciated the health benefits watermelon provides. Watermelon not only boosts your “health esteem,” but it has excellent levels of vitamins A and C and a good level of vitamin B6.
· Vitamin A found in watermelon is important for optimal eye health, can help prevent night-blindness, and boosts immunity by enhancing the infection-fighting actions of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
· Vitamin B6 found in watermelon helps the immune system produce antibodies. Antibodies are needed to fight many diseases. Vitamin B6 helps maintain normal nerve function and form red blood cells. The body uses it to help break down proteins. The more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need.
· Vitamin C in watermelon can help to bolster the immune system’s defenses against infections and viruses and can protect a body from harmful free radicals that can accelerate aging and conditions such as cataracts.
· A two-cup serving of watermelon is also a source of potassium (a two-cup serving has less than 10% of the daily reference value for potassium), a mineral necessary for water balance and found inside of every cell. People with low potassium levels can experience muscle cramps.
Help celebrate the watermelon with this healthy treat.
Frozen Watermelon Lemonade
3 cups watermelon cubes, seeds removed
½ cup raspberries
¾ cup sugar
½ cup water
Juice of 2 lemons (about ½ cup)
1 ½ cups strawberry-flavored, calorie-free carbonated water, chilled
1. Place watermelon cubes and raspberries in a blender; process until smooth. Pour through a sieve; discard pulp.
2. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly, just until the sugar dissolves. Set aside allow to cool slightly.
3. Stir the sugar-water and lemon juice onto the watermelon raspberry juice mixture. Pour the juice mixture onto a covered freezer container. Freeze until firm.
4. Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the mixture into tall glasses. Pour 3 to 4 tablespoons of the strawberry flavored water over the frozen juice in each glass. Serve immediately. Makes 6 – 8 servings.
Nutrition Information (per servings)
Calories 99; Protein 0.5g; Carbohydrates 25g; Sugar 23g; Fat 0.3g; Cholesterol 0g; Sodium 2mg; Fiber 0.6gSource: National Watermelon Promotion Board and Westchester University, PAContributing author: Alexis Navarro
Shop Wisely for Back-to-School Supplies
Have you budgeted for your children’s school supplies and uniforms? The average American family will spend approximately $65.00 more this year on the required school supplies than was spent last year.
Growing children mean substantial growth in spending. The average family of school-aged children is expected to spend 37% of their budget on clothing. Electronic or computer-related school needs will total 30% of a family’s back to school budget. Families will spend approximately $100.00 on shoes and $90.00 on school supplies.
Costs continue to rise as our personal family budgets shrink. This year more families will buy store brands or generic products rather than more expensive name brands. Some families will shop online looking for the best buys.
Begin planning your next year’s back-to-school budget. Although you may not know want supplies your child will need you probably do know if new uniforms are necessary. Check to see if neighbors or schools have hand-me-down uniforms. Check at local thrift stores for less expensive uniforms that are in good condition. A new pair of pants, skirt or jumper may cost $30.00 but you could purchase a gently worn one for $7 to $10. This would save you $20 to $23 dollars. Consider purchasing several necessary items each month during the summer.
Decide on a budget that is available for school supplies that includes: uniforms, shoes, hair cuts, paper, binders, pencils, etc. Attempt to obtain the school supply list early. Check at home for unused supplies that may have been purchased in previous years. Then make an updated list of what is needed and stick to the list.
Involve your children in the process of gearing up for a new school year. Inform them of the budget you have to spend. Encourage them to look for the best prices. Check newspaper ads to find the best prices and coupons. Help them realize the difference between “wants” and “needs”. If your budget allows for something special that the child’s friends may have, encourage the child to prioritize his list and identify the item he would most like to have. Suggest that the child use some of his own money to purchase the non- essential items.
Be creative as you plan your back-to-school shopping trips. Consider a meeting with the parents of your child’s friends. Compile a joint list and buy supplies in bulk packs at office or warehouse stores. Divide the items and share the cost.
Begin this year to make your back-to-school shopping less stressful. Keep an inventory of all of the supplies that have been purchased. As children request additional supplies throughout the year, check the list to see if you have the necessary items on hand. Keep track of your annual expenses which will help in budgeting for the up-coming years as you make your back-to-school shopping adventure a family experience.
Shopping for school uniforms and supplies can be an enjoyable experience if it is planned in advance. This is a perfect lesson for your children on how to budget, shop, save money and be prepared for the real world.
LSU AgCenter (August 3, 2010) Back to school costs increase: Shop Wisely to Save Money. Downloaded August 4, 2010 from :
Beans, Beans, Beans
Beans are nutritious and delicious. You can eat them hot, you can eat them cold, and you can eat them mashed, or you can eat them whole. Beans are used as soup, in salads, in baking, chili and refried. They are economical and a good source of fiber and protein. They also supply other nutrients, such as iron and zinc, like seafood, meat, and poultry. Beans are a good source of potassium and folate. They come in all forms dried, canned, frozen, and fresh. There are many different varieties of beans including red kidney beans, black beans, great northern beans, navy beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and pinto beans too.
Beans are a member of the legume family. However, because they are packed with nutrients, beans are often considered both a vegetable as well as a protein food. According to the USDA Food Patterns, beans are classified as a subgroup of the vegetable group. Beans are also counted as part of the protein foods group in the USDA Food Patterns (1/4 cup of cooked beans counts as 1 ounce equivalent of protein). It is recommended for a 2,000 calorie diet that individuals consume 1-1/2 cups of beans per week to promote good health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Beans are a plant food that is cholesterol free, naturally low in fat, contains no saturated fat and trans fat. Individuals who substitute beans for high fat meats and poultry more often can lower their risk of heart disease. Beans are also loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients which are linked to reducing the risk of cancer.
Beans are a nutrient-rich food that contains protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, antioxidants, and important vitamins and minerals, such as folate, manganese, potassium, iron, phosphorous, copper, and magnesium. The lean protein in beans helps build muscle and the complex carbohydrates in beans provide a sustained energy source. The extra fiber in beans slows down the absorption of the carbohydrates so you feel full longer and be less likely to over-eat throughout the day.
The Folate found in beans is important for pregnant women and their unborn babies, as well as women of childbearing age. Folate deficiency is linked to neural tube defects. A diet including beans may help reduce the risk of birth defects.
Beans are a good choice for people with gluten allergies. Gluten is protein found primarily in wheat, barley, and rye. Beans are naturally free of gluten and other major allergens associated with grains. Therefore, incorporating beans in a restricted diet for individuals with gluten intolerances can help provide fiber and other important nutrients that may be missing.
Another characteristic of beans is they cause intestinal gas in many individuals. This nuisance can be eliminated by incorporating these tips:
Beans are a good food to add to your diet as a key to promote good health. Smart nutrition that is economical and tastes good should include beans. “Bean appetite!”References:
· Shop Around
· Raise Your Deductible
· Don’t confuse what you paid for your house with rebuilding costs
· Buy your home and auto policies from the same insurer
· Make your home more disaster resistant
· Improve your home security
· Seek out other discounts
· Maintain a good credit record
· Stay with the same insurer
· Review the limits in your policy and the value of your possessions at least once a year
· Look for private insurance if you are in a government plan
· When you’re buying a home, consider the cost of homeowners insurance
Remember that flood insurance and earthquake damage are not covered by a standard homeowners policy. If you buy a house in a flood-prone area, you'll have to pay for a flood insurance policy that costs an average of $400 a year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides useful information on flood insurance on its Web site at FloodSmart.gov. A separate earthquake policy is available from most insurance companies. The cost of the coverage will depend on the likelihood of earthquakes in your area. In California the California Earthquake Authority (www.earthquakeauthority.com) provides this coverage.
Moving On Up: From Elementary to Middle School
Transitioning from elementary school to middle school is a wonderfully important milestone for any child. This right of passage opens the doors to socialization, independence and responsibility.
However, the combination of changing schools, peer pressure and puberty can be very challenging for most pre-teens. Positive active parenting is still the most important thing you can do for your children. Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. This will give you peace of mind knowing with whom your child is associating.
Middle school is a time when more individualized home work is often assigned and teachers expect their students to be more responsible and resourceful. Work together to help your child organize his assignments and identify a certain time and place where assignments are to be completed each day. Offer to bring your child to the library or have your child’s friends come over to your home to complete group assignments and projects. This gives you just one more opportunity to get to know your child and his friends.
Encourage your children to request your help with home assignments and take time to review their work to be sure that the requirements are met. Discuss your child’s school day. Ask him to identify one thing that he learned. Consider asking what was the most enjoyable and the most agonizing part of the day. This may give you some insight into any challenges your child is having prior to parent/teacher conferences.
Use open-ended questions to encourage discussion. Such discussions will allow you to learn more about your child’s school experiences and will let your child know that you are there to listen and help with any issues.
Listen to and talk with your children about beginning a new school. Listen for questions, concerns, and anxieties relating to this transition. Ask if they are interested in sharing any of their concerns with you. Be understanding. What may seem trivial to you will be a major concern to the child. Encourage and help your child to find ways to participate in activities that are interesting and stimulating.
These soon-to-be adolescents should know that you are always available to discuss any concerns they may have. Reassure the child that you are there whenever he needs guidance.
This is not the time to share your personal anxieties or concerns about middle school transition with your child. By keeping in touch with your child’s teachers, coaches, and friends, your concerns may be minimized.
Strong parent/teacher communication will provide a win/win situation not only for you but for your child. Children must know that you support teachers. Then and only then will they learn to respect adults and respond to the challenges middle school students’ experience.
Understand that your child’s transition into middle school may be a slower one than you would like. It may take several weeks for your pre-teen to adjust to the new routine. Help your child prepare for this transition ahead of time by discussing such topics as appropriate bedtime, homework expectations, television and computer time and phone use. Work together to decide on house rules relating to these issues. Listen to the child’s suggestions, express your thoughts and together come to a compromise where both you and your child are satisfied with the decisions relating to school time house rules and expectations.
Reference: LSU Ag Center (July7, 2010). “Middle school marks transitions in body and mind” News You Can Use. Downloaded July 14, 2010 from http:://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/communications/news/news_you_can_use/
Many people celebrate summer with gatherings around a grill with all kinds of meat, fish and seafood. However, fruits and vegetables can be grilled too. Grilling vegetables and fruits can help to meet the USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommendation to make half our plate fruits and vegetables. Adequate intakes of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes and cancer. Fruits and vegas provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber and phytochemicals (cancer fighting chemicals) needed for our health and wellbeing. They are low in calories and naturally have no cholesterol. They make tasty sides too. Unlike meats, poultry and fish, grilling vegetables does not lead to the formation of cancer-causing compounds.
Corn on the cob, eggplant, carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, pineapples, and peaches are examples of fruit and vegetables you can easily grill. Generally, preparation involves just cleaning, cutting and brushing with oil before grilling. Marinating before grilling makes them more flavorful. Olive oil, onion, garlic, salt and herbs like thyme, oregano, sage or rosemary (or your favorite herb) does a good job. It is important to cut up the fruits and vegetables evenly with the same thickness (up to 3/4 -1 inch) to allow for quick and even cooking, especially larger ones like sweet potatoes and eggplant. Smaller ones like cherry tomatoes and button mushrooms can be threaded through kabobs or placed in a grilling basket to keep them out of the fire. Keep your eyes on the grill because fruit and vegetables are more delicate than meats and can easily be overcooked. Grilling over medium heat is good to avoid overcooking; over cooking destroys the essential vitamins they contain.
Keep it safe by separating fruits and vegetables from raw meat, poultry and seafood while shopping, preparing, or storing. Rub vegetables briskly with your hands to remove dirt and surface microorganisms while cleaning under clean running water. Dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel after rinsing.
Now enjoy more grilled fruits and vegetables!
I am still growing by leaps and bounds and am learning new things every day. Play is how I learn and toys are the tools I use to learn. Your two year old loves to take a walk with you especially when you point out things of interest along the way like leaves, rocks, flowers, and even a bug or two. Remember to stop to examine them. He can walk backwards and is learning how to balance on one foot and hop. He can now walk up stairs one foot at a time and can walk down steps with a little help. By the time your child is 30 to 36 months old he is learning how to pedal a trike; is dressing himself with little assistance and is learning how to open a door by turning the door knob. Your child now enjoys “writing.” Provide him with a large sheet of paper, markers, or crayons and encourage your child to have fun! This is the precursor to handwriting. Refrain from giving your 2-3 year old coloring books or work sheets! The small muscles are not fully developed and your child cannot stay within the lines. Work sheets stifle your child’s imagination and creativity.
Begin to ask your two year old open-ended questions. This encourages the child to use his memory skills and new ability to think abstractly. Introduce new vocabulary words daily to your child. This will help build his communication skills. Your two year old now has two favorite words “no” and “mine”! Two year olds have difficulty sharing and want their own of everything! Because they are becoming more independent you will notice that your child will want to do things by himself. Allow them this opportunity and be available to assist when they ask or show great exasperation.
Although your two to three year old continues to develop right before your eyes, he has not yet mastered the ability to express his feelings verbally. Help you child recognize that feelings have names and that feelings are OK. You might consider saying “You must be very angry with Johnny because he won’t share the truck with you. Let’s ask Johnny if he will give you a turn when he is finished playing with the truck. Until then let’s find a different toy for you to enjoy.”
Your toddler now knows and can speak his first and last name. He can act out stories, and remember what he had for lunch or what he did yesterday. He is using logical thinking while playing. He may cover the baby or burp the baby after feeding.
Your toddler is beginning to ask “Why” questions. Although answering all of the “Why” questions may get old just remember that this is the way your child learns new concepts and facts. Take this opportunity to teach logic and build memory and language skills. Enter the world of pretend with your toddler. This will provide you with a wonderful opportunity to play with your child. Although he likes to pretend he won’t always know the difference between real and fantasy and may become frightened. Always reassure your child that you will keep him safe.
Your three year old is getting into joke telling and finds many things silly and will enjoy laughing. Encourage and enjoy this new found sense of humor! You will notice that your child selects whom he wants as a friend. Social skills are beginning to be developed but don’t think that this is a sign that sharing will come naturally and there will be no more conflicts. Your toddler is still interested in doing what he wants to do when he wants to do it. Be patient this too shall pass.
Reference:American Academy of Pediatricshttp://www.healthychildren.org/english/ages-stages/baby/Pages/default.aspxNational Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families www.zerotothree.org
The summertime is a great time to enjoy outdoor activities with family and friends. Cookouts allow everyone to gather, share laughs and enjoy great food. However, with warm temperatures, it is extra important to handle foods with care in order to protect loved ones from harmful bacteria that can turn a cookout into a not so pleasant event.
The following tips will help to keep your outdoor cookouts safe and enjoyable for all this summer:
Pack it safely. During the hot summer months it is important to make sure to pack foods in a cooler and keep the cold foods cold. Using ice and ice packs to keep cold foods below 40 F will help to insure the safety of your foods. Utilizing two ice chests can also keep foods at the proper temperature. One ice chest will be for drinks because it will be opened more frequently. The other will be for foods and should be opened less often.
Timing is everything. It is important to make sure that cold foods are properly stored within 2 hours back in coolers or a refrigerator. However, if temperatures are above 90 F, foods should be chilled within 1 hour.
Keep it clean. A key ingredient to keeping foods safe is by properly cleaning hands and foods. If accessible, hands should be washed for 20 seconds with soap and running water. If running water is not available bring a jug of water for handwashing and food preparation. Also, bring hand wipes, disposable cloths and paper towels for cleaning. Remember to wash fruits and vegetables before eating with fresh water and a vegetable brush. Melons should also be cleaned before cutting to prevent passing any bacteria from the rind into the center.
Let’s not get crossed. Cross-contamination is when bacteria are passed from foods, cutting boards, utensils, etc. if improper handling of ready-to-eat and raw foods occurs. It is important not only to remember to wash hands, but to properly clean containers and utensils. Additionally, do not use the same containers and utensils for raw and cooked meats and poultry. Keep extra containers and utensils to prevent cross-contamination. Also, remember to discard marinades after using, you want to avoid mixing the juices from the raw meats and poultry with the cooked food. Hot in the heat is a good thing. Hot foods should be served hot. Foods should be at or above 140 F when cooked and served. Following the USDA recommended cooking temperatures is a great way to make sure foods are cooked properly. The USDA cooking chart can be found at http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html.The summertime is a great time to enjoy family, friends and the outdoors. Remember to keep this a pleasant time for all by handling foods safely. Follow these tips and “laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll)!”
2. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/foodborne_illne ss_peaks_in_summer/index.asp
The lives of families today are fast paced and on the move! The choices that people on the go make are often quick, easy, and centered on fast food. Planning ahead can make snacking while traveling a healthier experience for your family. These are a few helpful healthy snacks when you and your family are on the go:
GRAINS:3 cups Low sodium, low fat popcornIndividual size boxes of whole grain cereals1 Small Muffin1oz. Low sodium pretzels 3-4 Plain cracker squares VEGETABLES:1/2 cup Fresh carrot sticks1 Medium fresh celery stick1/2 cup Cucumber slices 1 Medium raw tomatoFRUITS:1/2 cup of Grapes1 Medium Banana1 Medium Apple1 Medium Orange1/2 cup Strawberries PROTEIN:2/3 cup of Almonds 1 oz. Low Sodium Mixed nuts2 TBSP Low fat peanut butter on crackers 1 cup of Homemade trail mix of your favorite low sodium nuts and dried fruits DAIRY: 1 cup Yogurt in individual container1 1/2 oz. Of Cheese 1 cup of Milk
References: www.choosemyplate.gov www.americanheart.org
Why is literacy important? Language and literacy skills are one of the strongest predictors of school performance. Teachers estimate that over one-third of children entering kindergarten have poor language skills and are not ready for school. Children with strong language and literacy skills tend to have greater school achievement, performance and confidence. Youngsters lacking these skills have difficulty reading newspapers, understanding their textbooks and keeping up in school. Such children are also more likely to drop out of school. Just as serious are the challenges they will face later when confronted by the workplace of tomorrow. Children who cannot read fluently today will simply not have access to the responsible jobs of the future.
Literacy is not just a children’s issue. Some estimates are that as many as 50% of low-income adults can’t read well enough to function in the everyday world. For these parents, filling out a job application, reading their children a story, or reading the label on a can of soup is difficult. Also, many adults may be literate in their native languages, but unable to read English.
What role do families play? The home environment has a strong effect on language and literacy development. Children start building their knowledge about language and literacy long before they begin school. Children whose parents read to them regularly (at least four times a week) have more positive attitudes and higher achievement levels in reading than children whose parents do not read to them.
Reading to children significantly increases:
What can parents do? Research has pointed to a number of parent beliefs and practices that relate to the development of language and literacy knowledge and skills, and to later successful literacy and school achievement.
Family literacy can empower parents to enhance their children’s and their own literacy and create a sense that parents can influence children’s ability and future.
Boyer, E. L. (1991). Ready to learn: A mandate from the nation. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Burns, M. S., Griffin, P., & Snow, C. E. (1999). Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Dickinson, D. K. (1994). Bridges to Literacy: Children, Families, and Schools. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
McGee, L. M., & Richgels, D. J. (2000). Literacy's Beginnings: Supporting Young Readers and Writers (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Morrow, L. (1995). Family Literacy: Connections in Schools and Communities. International Reading Association.
Contributing author: Alexis Navarro
Have you ever heard of the saying ‘you are what you eat?’ Well, the same can be said for what you drink. After all, water contributes 55-70% of our body weight. Drinks high in added sugars contribute mainly calories with little nutrients to the diet. They replace nutrient-rich foods and make it difficult to achieve recommended nutrient levels. Sugary drinks also increase the risk of dental caries. Unfortunately, sodas and similar calorically-sweetened beverages such as sports drinks and energy drinks are the major source of added sugars in the American diet. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we reduce intake of calories from added sugars to allow for increased intake of nutrient-rich foods without exceeding the overall calorie needs. This helps to achieve and sustain a healthy weight. Water, diet beverages, low fat or fat free milk and 100% fruit juice are good beverage choices; however water is the best choice to quench thirst. Low fat and fat free milk and 100% juice provide essential nutrients in addition to hydration.
Here are some tips to drink more water and low calorie-beverages:
1. What does your inspection cover?
2. How long have you been practicing in the home inspection profession and how many inspections have you completed?
3. Are you specifically experienced in residential inspection?
4. Do you offer to do repairs or improvements based on the inspection?
5. How long will the inspection take?
6. How much will it cost?
7. What type of inspection report do you provide and how long will it take to receive the report?
8. Will I be able to attend the inspection?
9. Do you maintain membership in a professional home inspector association
10. Do you participate in continuing education programs to keep your expertise up to date?
Attend a free half day Broadband Symposium, "Addressing Louisiana's Broadband Needs!" at LSU AgCenter's Hammond Research Station.Wednesday, June 15th, 8:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.21549 Old Covington Highway, Hammond, LA 70403Email