Pumpkins…a healthy treat, no tricks!

‘Tis the season for pumpkins! It’s hard not to notice the end caps at the grocery store that display pumpkin cookies, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin bread…the list goes on! Even coffee chains and fast food restaurants advertise pumpkin coffees and other items. Although these once-a-year items are a treat for those of us who look forward to them, many contain very little pumpkin and therefore contain very little nutrients that pumpkin provides.  So what is the health punch in pumpkin?

So what is the health punch in pumpkin?


Vision

The vibrant color orange in pumpkin comes from beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for vision as it helps the retina absorb and process light. Just 1 cup of pumpkin provides 200% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Beta-carotene has also been linked to healthy skin, as it helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays.

Healthy weight/digestive health

Pumpkin is a helpful aid in weight loss or weight maintenance. It is very concentrated in fiber, which keeps us fuller for longer which helps to prevent overconsumption at meals and excessive snacking. Fiber is also essential for a healthy digestive tract. I cup of canned pumpkin has about 7 grams of fiber, which is more fiber than 2 slices of some bread!

Immunity

Consistent vitamin C intake has been linked to a stronger immune system and may help prevent colds or help us recover from colds more quickly. Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin C and can be eaten as a natural immunity booster!

How can pumpkin be incorporated into recipes? Add canned pumpkin to smoothies! It will add to the smooth texture and will also provide an array of nutrients. Pumpkin bars can be made with minimal sugar and cinnamon and nutmeg for strong flavoring agents. Lastly, canned pumpkin can be used to make creamy soup topped with pumpkin seeds for a bowl filled with fiber that will keep you fuller for longer!

Alana Scopel

Off to the Farmers’ Market

Off to the Farmers Market

Last night we kicked off another year of the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market at the Illinois State Fairgrounds! Time and time again, we share how important a well balanced diet with fresh fruits and vegetables is to you health. What better way to stock your shelves with fresh, local produce than by taking a trip to your local market?

The Farmers’ Market offers not only produce, but organic meat, eggs and plants for your own garden. Come on out and enjoy a night of fun and health. Stop by the Springfield Clinic tables on the following dates to meet us! For more information on the market, visit our website.

June9   |   July 14   |   Sept. 8   |   Oct. 13

5 Ways to Cure Your Cabin Fever

It’s easy to say “It’s too cold out” and retreat to the couch on winter evenings and weekends. It’s true that the winter months can be difficult to maintain our physical activity routines. If you live in the Midwest or other areas prone to snow, the weather can be an unpredictable hassle. It gets darker outside earlier, and this tends to make us more tired earlier than normal. We also tend to eat more “comfort food” during the cold months of the year. Our bodies can lose muscle mass within weeks of not utilizing them and we can also see changes in metabolism.

With all things considered, physical activity during winter is just as important as during any other season. Here are 5 ways to cure your cabin fever!

With all things considered, physical activity during winter is just as important as during any other season. Here are 5 ways to cure your cabin fever!

  1. Outside is not off limits! Just remember to dress in layers to help insulate your body. Top layers of clothing should be wind and water-resistant, if possible. Outdoor activities include, but are not limited to, sledding, skiing, ice skating (which can also be indoors), snowball fights, shoveling snow, building a snowman or fort, and walking the dog. If none of these are appealing, bundle up and go for a nice walk around the neighborhood!
  1. Use indoor locations as a place to walk. Churches with recreation centers, malls, and other department stores are great options if you don’t want to make a trip to the gym.
  1. Make a “gym” or place to work out in the convenience of your own home! Weights can be purchased inexpensively. Boxes or a step stool can be used as tools for cardio workouts. Jumping jacks and jump ropes count, too!
  1. Whether in your home or at work, use the stairs. We should really use the stairs vs. elevator any time of year, but using the steps during the winter will help increase physical activity that may be hard to fit in otherwise.
  1. Dance! Put on your favorite playlist and have a 30 minute dance session! Dancing burns calories, reduces stress, and is just fun!

Alana Scopel

7 Ways to Reduce Food Waste

This past summer, the American Chemistry Council stated that the American household wastes $640 on average per year in food without even knowing it. Just think of what we could do with an extra $640! Tons and tons (literally) of food get thrown away each year and this is often due to purchasing too much at the store or cooking meals that are too large. This also happens when dining out; we try to watch our portions when going out to eat, and sometime we forget our to-go baggy. Restaurants throw away guests’ leftovers and it adds to the pile of wasted food.

The average American household wastes about $640 of food each year. Save time, money, and food with these 7 tips!

Here are 7 tips for reducing food waste:

  1. Meal Planning. Plan ahead for upcoming meals. It’s helpful to choose recipes that have overlapping ingredients. This helps to reduce the amount of food purchased. Avoid buying or making too much food by preparing only 1 or 2 recipes each week. If a recipe calls for a rare or expensive ingredient, swap it out for something you have on hand or an ingredient you will use regularly.For information and tips on meal planning check out this previous blog post!
  2. Rotate Produce. Use the “first in, first out” policy. After going to the store, rotate “old” foods to the front of the fridge or pantry so these foods will be eaten first. The “new” foods that were just purchased go to the back of the fridge or pantry, unless of course these ingredients are needed immediately.
  3. Stretch the life of your fruits and veggies. Fruit that is past its prime can be used in breads or smoothies instead of being thrown away. Vegetables can be used to make stock and stale bread or crackers can be used in casseroles or to make croutons.
  4. Send home leftovers. If inviting guests over for a meal, send them home with leftovers. They get a nice meal the next day and this helps reduce food waste!
  5. Freeze it! Most leftovers will be just fine reheated. This includes meat, vegetables, fruit, and casseroles. Make sure to put leftovers in tightly sealed containers or wrap tightly in plastic wrap to prolong freezer life.
  6. Donate. Food banks are always grateful for donations. Canned items within “use-by” or “sell-by” dates are perfect contributions, but many food banks will also take produce or packaged items that have not been opened or tampered with.
  7. Compost! Food scraps can be composted and used to enhance your garden. If this is not something you want to do yourself, ask a neighbor or co-worker if they do this or know where scraps can be taken locally.Check out the infographic below from Craftsy!infographic on compost

 

Alana Scopel

Healthy Tricks VS. Sugary Treats

Trick or Treat! When we think of Halloween, yummy and sugary treats such as candy bars and caramel apples usually come to mind. Rightfully so, this is definitely a day to indulge! However, the amount of sugar in these delicious snacks can be astronomical!

Whether you are hosting a Halloween party or handing out treats at the door, there are a variety of healthy options that are fun and festive!

Just a few examples of the amount of sugar in some of our favorite treats:
Snicker’s Fun Size: 17 g, Blow Pop: 13 g, Skittles: 42 g, Dots: 21 g, Reese’s (2 cups): 21 g.

For comparison, this is how many sugar cubes are in 2 Reese’ cups:

reeses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you are hosting a Halloween party or handing out treats at the door, there are a variety of healthy options that are fun and festive!

Cheese

Cheese is a good source of protein and does not contain any sugar. Cheese sticks will be ok unrefrigerated for 2-3 hours, so kiddos may eat these later if needed.

Fruithalloween

If you have clementine’s (“Cuties”) and celery, you have a pumpkin! Peel each clementine and leave in its whole, round form. Cut celery into 1 inch pieces and place in the middle of the clementine as a stem. Clementine’s are a good source of vitamin C and can easily fit in a Ziploc baggy.

Photo from Frog Prince Paperie

Veggies

If hosting a party, make a tray of witch’s fingers! Simply take baby carrots or carrot sticks and place ½ of an olive (black or green) on the tip as a nail. This can be served with dip or by itself. Carrots are high in vitamin A and a great, crunchy snack.

Water

To help keep kiddos (and parents of trick-or-treaters) hydrated, buy mini or full-sized bottles of water. Create labels out of construction paper or use Halloween-themed paper to cover original water bottle label. Many drinks such as juice and punch are high in sugar. These spooky bottles will help quench their thirst!

 

DEVILED EYEBALLS
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Ingredients
  1. 12 large eggs
  2. ⅓ cup plus 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  3. 1 small ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  4. 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  5. 1 Tbsp minced scallion or shallot
  6. 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  7. ¼ tsp black olive slices
  8. 24 black olives
  9. red food coloring
Instructions
  1. Place eggs in a large pot with cold water, covering eggs by 1 inch. Bring to a full boil; boil 1 minute. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 15 to 17 minutes. Drain and run cold water over the eggs. Crack eggs and let sit in cold water 10 minutes or until cool. Drain, then peel eggs.
  2. Cut eggs in half lengthwise, then carefully remove the yolks, leaving the whites intact. Place yolks in a bowl; mash with 1/3 cup mayonnaise, avocado, mustard, shallot, lemon juice, and salt until blended. Using 2 teaspoons or a small ice-cream scoop, scoop yolk mixture into small balls and position in hollows of whites to resemble eyeballs.
  3. Press an olive slice into center of each yolk eyeball. Stir together 3 tablespoons remaining mayonnaise and a few drops of red food coloring in a small bowl for the "blood."
  4. Transfer colored mayonnaise mixture into a small sealable bag and snip the corner to form a pastry bag. Decorate eyeballs with bloodshot veins. Cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours before serving.
  5. Make Ahead: Egg yolk mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Fill egg whites, decorate and refrigerate up to 6 hours before serving.
Notes
  1. From kitchendaily.com
Something to Chew http://somethingtochew.com/
Alana Scopel

 

 

 

The Freshman 15: Myth or Fact

 

Rather than take the approach of “how to avoid the freshman 15”, I’d like to address what actually happens during your first year away from home. Is the Freshman 15 a myth or fact? It’s, actually, a little of both. Did you know that the phrase “The Freshman 15” was coined by Seventeen magazine in 1989? I learned this fascinating fact while doing a research project in college. What’s even more incredible is that the research evidence available at the time suggested that weight gain experienced during the first year of college typically only ranged from 0-8 lbs. The iconic tagline took off and continues to instill fear in many college-bound students. Rather than take the approach of “how to avoid the freshman 15,” I’d like to address what actually happens during your first year away from home.

What are some of the causes of weight gain during freshman year?

  • Complete access to dining halls. Guess what? If you want to eat pizza every day, you can—because it’s always available! There is no one to tell you what to eat and what not to eat, and no one to control what is being served for dinner. Sometimes with this new freedom of dietary choices, we forget the importance of balanced meals.
  • No more PE. Your life changes a lot when going to college. Previously, you may have been involved in multiple sports or participated in physical education every year. PE is not a requirement for college curriculum, so it’s up to you to follow an active lifestyle! Many students overlook how important regular physical activity is for keeping a healthy weight.
  • Late-night habits. In high school, I would hit the hay routinely around 10pm. Once I went to college, that bedtime could be anywhere from midnight–2am. Drastic changes in one’s routine, lack of sleep and excessive late-night snacking can all alter your metabolism and cause weight gain.
  • Alcoholic intake. For those that choose to drink alcohol, remember it is a source of non-nutrient calories. Alcohol can also impair our good judgment skills. Suddenly, you find yourself justifying that an extra-large pepperoni pizza at 1am sounds like a perfectly good idea! Research suggests that students who gain the most weight are typically heavier drinkers.

Is weight gain in college really all that bad?

Absolutely not. For a lot of people, their bodies are nowhere near done maturing at the age of 18. Boys can continue to grow taller and develop more muscle mass. Girls’ bodies may mature more with continuous breast and hip development. Both of these growth examples are natural and have no correlation to being in college. Weight gain among college students is quite variable and some even lose weight their first year.

Should I be worried?

Nah. College was one of the best experiences of my life! Plus, you don’t have to follow a perfect diet to maintain health and wellness. Focus on all the new opportunities you will experience, such as a gym membership, culturally-diverse food choices and social gatherings. It was in college that I took my first group fitness class, fell in love with it and became an instructor. My taste buds exploded with all the new foods I was trying. And I met some pretty incredible people and made memories to last a lifetime.

It’s really simple. You’re going away to college.

Remember to:

-eat breakfast

-try to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep every night

-don’t forget your fruits and veggies

-have fun!