Are canned fruits and vegetables healthy?

 

My husband, who grew up in rural North Carolina spent many of his summers with his grandfather. He saw acres of farmland with fresh vegetables including cabbages, collards, green beans, okra, field peas, squash, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, Muscadine grapes, peaches, etc. He and his grandfather would get up early in the mornings to gather the crops. Some would be used for daily meals while others were canned and frozen by his grandmother, sold at the farmer’s market, and given to needy families. They would do this every day until it was time to replant for the next season.

While many of us don’t have access to a large family garden for fresh fruits and vegetables, there are still many available healthy canned options.

Researchers at Michigan State University found that canned fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as frozen or fresh. For canned tomatoes in particular, canning improves the content of B vitamins, vitamin E and carotenoids compared to fresh. Fiber in beans becomes more soluble through the canning process,  and thus more useful to the human body. Additionally, a nationally represented survey of American adults found that adults and children who frequently eat canned foods (6 or more items over 2 weeks) have healthier eating habits compared to those who eat 1-2 canned food items in the same time period.  

Eat the fruits and vegetables you prefer whether canned, fresh, frozen or dried. Canned foods simply make healthy eating easy. Canned fruits and veggies are convenient to have in your pantry for times you can’t get to the store; they can even be kept at work (with a can opener) for a quick lunch or an afternoon snack. Since they don’t expire quickly, you won’t waste money when buying canned veggies – which sometimes happens with fresh produce that goes bad. Here are a few tips when buying canned fruit and vegetables:

Watch for sodium:
Sodium is usually added to canned foods to preserve them. Look for low-sodium, reduced-sodium or no-salt-added labeled foods. Compare the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label and choose the product with the lowest amount. Drain and rinse canned veggies to reduce sodium even more.

Watch for added sugar: Look for fruit that’s canned in water, its own juice, or light syrup (drain and rinse).

Delicious uses:

  • Add drained cans of corn, tomatoes and pinto beans or any other vegetable to low-sodium chicken broth for a super-fast and filling vegetable soup.
  • Use a blender, food processor or a fork to smash drained and rinsed garbanzo beans, northern beans, or any beans into a bean dip for baby carrots; add a little lemon juice and garlic powder for some zip.
  • Serve canned fruit as a dessert topped with low-fat, no sugar-added yogurt; or top whole grain cereal with canned fruit.

You can feel confident that canned fruits and vegetables are nutritious, safe and full of flavor. Fill up your pantry with your favorite canned produce to help you prepare nutritious, quick everyday meals for your family more often while saving time and money.

ENJOY!!
Stephanie

Sources: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyCooking/Fresh-Frozen-or-Canned-Fruits-and-Vegetables-All-Can-Be-Healthy-Choices_UCM_459350_Article.jsp#.Vp0xBVMrJmA
http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/canned-fruits-and-vegetables-are-good-for-you

 

 

Go Nuts!!

Nuts are my favorite snack to munch in between meal times. They are bite-size nutritional powerhouses, packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. When I choose this vitality-boosting snack, I stick to a handful mix of unsalted nuts to get the best valuable vitamins and minerals in my diet.

All nuts have different nutrition credentials and will offer various health benefits. Here are our top 5 nuts and with their benefits.

1) Almonds – Almonds are the best choice if you are avoiding dairy from your diet. They are calcium-rich and high in vitamin E, a nutrient which helps to improve the condition and appearance of your skin. For some extra heart help, swap flaked almonds for the whole nut with the skin intact because the almond’s skin is full of heart-protecting compounds called flavonoids.

2) Cashews- They are your go-to if you’re in need of minerals like magnesium, iron, zinc, biotin and copper. The nutrients in cashews are thought to improve recall delays and age-related memory loss. It is also a great meat substitution if you are following a vegetarian diet. Just add a handful to your stir-fry or use as a nut butter on crackers or bread.

3) Pecans- Pecans are heart-friendly and packed with plant sterols, that are effective at lowering cholesterol levels. They’re rich in oleic acid, the healthy fat found in olives and avocados. As a good source of vitamin B3, pecans are the perfect option if you’re fighting fatigue and stress.

4) Walnuts- Walnuts are a cancer-fighting agent due to the extremely high number of antioxidants. They are good for your brain and heart and helps in lowering bad cholesterol.

5) Pistachios- They are high in calcium, potassium, fiber, and B vitamins. A handful of these little seeds provides you with one fifth of your recommended daily fiber.

Enjoy!

Neha 

Source: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eating-nuts-linked-to-healthier-longer-life-201311206893

 

Heart healthy tips to keep your <3 humming!

Thinking about what to do on Valentine’s Day for those who hold a special place in your heart? Take a look at the suggestions found on the American Heart Association’s Website: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Heart-Health-Valentines-Day-Tips_UCM_322023_Article.jsp#.VqdgUpMrKqB . The site contains 14 practical and health conscious ideas that have more value and show a deeper love than a box of chocolates or a dozen roses ever could. The ideas are listed below. See what you think.
When you’ve finished reading, be creative! Come up with a 15th idea to show your Valentine he/she’s extra special. Enjoy the read! (Note: Hovering over the printed words or phrases in blue will take you to sites with additional ideas and information.)

  1. Rather than tempting your beloved with sweets, consider a gift that has more permanence. Search for a poem that describes your feelings and write it on beautiful paper for a handmade Valentine.
  2. Quality time is one of the most meaningful gifts. Bundle up and plan an active outing such as sledding, ice skating, gathering wood for a fire, or if you’re feeling adventurous, visit an indoor rock wall.
  3. If your kids are having a Valentine’s Day party at their school or day care, instead of sending candies, consider raisins, grapes, whole-grain pretzels, colored pencils or stickers as tokens of their friendly affection.
  4. Cooking at home is an excellent way to control what and how much you eat. Take a date to a local cooking class to practice your skills or learn a new technique.
  5. Prepare a romantic candlelit dinner at home using one of our heart-healthy recipes.
  6. Give to one another by giving back. Ask a date to volunteer with you at a local organization. Giving back is a healthy habit that can boost your mood and help beat stress.
  7. Use this day as an opportunity to tell your loved one how important they are to you, and share ways that you can support each other’s health and wellness. Get started by taking the My Life Check Assessment.
  8. Craving something sweet? Gift a beautiful fresh fruit basket to your loved one instead of giving sweets with added sugars.
  9. Sharing is caring – if you go out for a romantic dinner date, order one entrée to share. Many restaurant servings are enough for two – splitting will keep you from overdoing it.
  10. Don’t forget to love Fido, too! Give your pet a Valentine and remember to walk or exercise them daily –getting active with your pet will benefit your health and your bond with your pets.
  11. Take it slow – if you receive a luxurious box of chocolates from your sweetie, stick it in the freezer and enjoy in moderation over the next several weeks.
  12. Take a long, romantic walk with your beloved – and try to make it a regular habit. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each week to help keep your heart healthy. You can reach this goal by walking briskly for at least 30 minutes five days each week.
  13. Check out our tips for healthier preparation methods for cooking.
  14. Rekindle an old flame – try preparing one of your sweetie’s favorite recipes in a healthier way. These healthy substitutions can help you cut down on saturated fats, trans fats, salt (sodium), and added sugars, while noticing little, if any, difference in taste.ENJOY!
    Emily

Hot Chocolate weather is upon us, drink up!

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Warm drinks are a must have for me and my family in the cold winter months, but all those empty calories can add up quickly! According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Americans consume 20 teaspoons of added sugars daily. Keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and children and 9 teaspoons for men daily.

Hot chocolate can be a great, calcium-rich drink for all ages. This family favorite does not have to contain loads of sugar to taste great, try cutting back on the sugar and add more flavor! Flavor your next cup with vanilla, peppermint or my favorite, chai tea! You can do this by adding in spices or for an easy and flavorful trick, try steeping a tea bag in your hot chocolate. What sounds better than a vanilla chai tea hot chocolate? All the fancy flavors without the extra cost or sugars!

Visit the link below for more tips on how to cut back on added sugars for you and your family. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugars-Added-Sugars-and-Sweeteners_UCM_303296_Article.jsp#.WDXC92PIaLs

Healthy Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1 cup, plus 1-2 tablespoons skim or 1% milk
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or sweetener of choice)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cinnamon, optional

Instructions

  1. Place milk in a small pot over medium low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place cocoa powder, sugar, and extra tablespoon of milk in a small bowl. Whisk until a paste/thick mixture forms and powder is absorbed.
  3. Whisk cocoa mixture into milk mixture. Heat till hot but not boiling. Stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon, if using.

Recipe adapted from: http://thechiclife.com/2014/02/healthy-hot-chocolate-clean-eats.html

Cheers!  Megan

Megan is the EFNEP Program Assistant in NC State Extension-Orange County Center

Homemade gifts this season for lower costs

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Gift giving for any occasion can often be expensive, especially when you purchase several gifts at one time. I actually began to make homemade food gifts that were not only made from the heart but were healthy for the heart too! I was able to remember those special special neighbors, church friends, and teachers with gifts that were lower in cost and higher in nutrition.

Some of my favorite homemade gifts that don’t require refrigeration include: vegetarian bean soup; peppermint hot cocoa; flavored teas, and mint body scrub. All of these items are placed in jars decorated with fabric and/or ribbon that coordinated with the occasion.

My children began getting involved with making gifts for their grandparents and teachers. Among their favorites were: homemade cookbooks, no-salt seasonings; spiced teas, and healthy snacks in a jar. They loved to decorate the container or package too and were so very proud of giving a gift from the heart.

So don’t let the holidays, birthdays, or other gift giving occasions stress you. Start gathering ideas for homemade gifts and get your children Involved too. All of you will enjoy giving a gift that you made and it will mean so much to those on the receiving end. For more ideas, check here: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/nutrition/dietary_guide/hgic4091.html 

Judy

Get Active and Stay Active during the Holidays!

santa on a scaleDuring the holidays it can be difficult to maintain your usual workout schedule. In an effort to reach your physical activity needs try to switch it up!

If you are crunched for time try fitting in time at work during your lunch break! You could go for a brisk walk or even do chair exercises at your desk. You can also save time by incorporating your family into your workouts. Backpacking or skiing together can provide exercise while also allowing quality family time. Also try ice skating or even building a snow man to work your muscles!

If you are not able to make it to the gym try putting together some at home workouts. Body weight exercises that don’t require equipment are great for home workouts. Try crunches, pushups, lunges, or jumping jacks. You can do cardio by running up steps or jogging around your house.

Add some variety in your workouts to stay motivated. If you usually run, try biking or weight lifting. For more motivation try creating a vision board and setting realistic goals.

Although the holidays make it difficult, make exercising and reaching your physical fitness goals a top priority. Shoot for at least three thirty minute workout sessions per week.

The last and most important tip is not to overdo it. Find balance and manage your time wisely so that you can enjoy the holidays with family and friends while also getting physical activity.

Susan

Resources:

http://www.sparkpe.org/blog/ways-to-be-active-during-the-holidays/

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/your-holiday-fitness-program#1