August is Peach Month

 

One thing that people always think about when the summertime arrives is how sweet the summer peaches will taste. Peaches have various recipes and can taste delicious in anything. Peaches can even be made into a salsa recipe! There are many health benefits to peaches and many interesting facts about them. Peaches can enrich skin health, heart health, eye health, and contain various vitamins and minerals. Peaches are actually members of the rose family and were initially grown in China. There are also different types of peaches depending on how the seed separates from the inner part of the peach. The peaches that don’t separate from the seed easily are called clingstone peaches. The other peaches that do separate from the seed easily are called freestone peaches.

There are many colors that a peach can be including yellow, white, or orange. The color also can indicate the acidity of the peach. The white flesh is less acidic than the golden yellowish orange color. Peaches are also produced in Italy and in China mostly. Peach season is from June until the end of August. Peaches are typically ripe when they are a creamy yellow color or a golden color. Checking peaches with your whole hand is recommended as compared to using your fingertips since peaches bruise so easily.

A large peach has less than 70 calories and has 3 grams of fiber in it. Peaches contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C. Peaches are not only tasty but nutritious as well and go great with a numerous amount of recipes. The most common food that people think of when it comes to peaches is a peach cobbler, but peaches can be used in very different recipes other than desserts. Peaches can be used to make a peachy chicken salad, peach salsa, and even in muffins! Peaches are great in many ways and can be delicious in various dishes! Here is a great healthy southern peach cobbler recipe for those of you who love peach cobbler and want a healthier recipe!

Healthier Southern Peach Cobbler:  (Makes 4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 8 fresh peaches – peeled, pitted, and sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8-teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Directions:

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Combine peaches, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, ¼ tablespoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a large bowl. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2-quart baking dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine flour, white sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.

Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of flour mixture over them.

Mix together 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1-teaspoon ground cinnamon. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

For more information on peaches and peach recipes/dishes, please visit these links:

Serve and enjoy!

Taylor Davis

Taylor is a student intern working with EFNEP at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Pitt County Center.

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

Buy local, eat local at the farmers’ market

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Over the years, local Farmer’s Markets have become increasingly popular. They are great sources for purchasing fresh fruits, vegetables and other food items such as homemade jams, etc.

Depending on where you live (rural or urban town/city), farmer’s markets vary in size, location, times in which they are open and products sold. Some are very small while others are huge. Both offer the opportunity for consumers to purchase freshly grown food items from local farmers. What a great concept!

So, you may ask yourself, why should I shop at a local farmer’s market. There are many different reasons to shop at your local farmer’s market. Here are a few:

  • Buying from a local farmer supports local agriculture. This means that the foods we eat come from nearby, and does not require us to waste lots of energy and petroleum to ship the food halfway around the world.
  • You can find a variety of fresh, organic produce at more affordable prices than in a supermarket. Many farmers carry products that are not technically “organic,” but have many low-priced foods that are pesticide and herbicide free. The advantage at a farmers market is that you can actually talk to the farmer, learn about their methods, and then decide for yourself.
  • Buying locally also means that you are supporting farmers and the local economy. Not only will your money stay in your area, but you will happily please the farmer that worked to grow the food.
  • The food from your local farmers market is fresher. Because it was grown locally, there is a good chance that the apple you buy from the farmer was picked a few days ago. This is virtually impossible in a big supermarket.
  • There is usually an amazing variety of fruits and veggies at your local farmers market. Each farmer may have his own method for growing tomatoes or peppers. This is something that never happens at a grocery store.
  • There is no doubt that locally-grown foods just simply taste better. You will never be able to eat a carrot from the grocery store again!
  • There’s just no way around it, eating fresh, locally-grown fruits and veggies are great for your health.
  • Lastly, farmer’s markets are just plain fun for the entire family. Meeting your local community is an excellent way to feel connected to the world around you.

For more information on farmer’s markets and other local food topics, go to the following link: https://localfood.ces.ncsu.edu/

Stephanie

Healthy Snacking

I admit it…I am a “snacker.” But, when I get the urge for a snack, I try to make it a healthy one instead of one high in calories and fat. In the evenings, I love to sit down in my favorite chair with my dogs beside me and unwind while snacking on a small bowl of popcorn. I don’t want to eat anything heavy that will keep me awake, so my snack food of choice is popcorn.

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I have just started eating air-popped popcorn. I’ve been trying out different kinds of seasonings instead of adding salt and butter. Air-popped popcorn by itself does not have much taste. I like a sweet and salty taste. I have found that adding Splenda and cayenne pepper to my air-popped popcorn is delicious. Old Bay is another seasoning that is quite good. Check out 23 other ways to top your air popped popcorn:
http://www.sparkpeople.com/blog/blog.asp?post=23_ways_to_top_your_popcorn_for_under_150_calories

For more information on healthy snacking, check out these resources:
http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-snack-tips-for-parents
http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/food_shop_prep/menu_planning/hgic4203.html

-Susan