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Pumpkins: the fall fruit mascot

pumpkins

Every fall we see pumpkins brightening up our yards and our front porches; a sure sign that Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner. Pumpkins, a type of squash, are usually orange but come in all different shapes and sizes. While most people consider pumpkins vegetables, pumpkins are actually considered a fruit.

There are two types of squash: winter squash and summer squash. Summer squash are harvested and eaten when the skin is thin and tender. They tend to have a shorter storage span due to the thin skin and must be eaten promptly. Zucchini and yellow summer squash are just a couple of several varieties of squash you can enjoy during the summer months.

Pumpkins are included within the winter squash category along with butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash. Winter squash are known for their hard, thick skin, which is what makes carving pumpkins so challenging. The thick skin also contributes to a long shelf life, allowing these winter squash to be kept for months when stored in a dark and cool place such as a basement or in a garage. Continue Reading »

Apples: so much variety, so many benefits!

apples

Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith—these are just a small portion of the 7,500 varieties of apples grown around the world. Apples come in all shades of red, green and yellow. With so many different types out there, it may be challenging to decide which apples to buy, especially now that we are in the midst of apple season and plenty of fresh apples are available.

All types of apples are good sources of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with only slight variations in nutritional value. Below is a brief description of some of the most popular apples.

Red Delicious is probably the most recognized apple in this area. When you say ‘apple’ the Red Delicious is often what comes to mind. Red Delicious apples have the highest source of antioxidants and are great defenders against cellular damage.

Fuji apples are sweeter, crisper and have a longer shelf life compared to other varieties. In fact, when refrigerated properly, these apples can last up to a year without spoiling! In addition to their lengthy shelf life, these apples are high in potassium. Potassium is a mineral that acts as an electrolyte in the body and helps to regulate heart rhythm, blood pressure and muscle movements. Golden Delicious and Gala apples are also good sources of potassium.

Granny Smith apples are known for their crispness and tart flavor. While vitamin C is a nutrient found in most fruits and vegetables, Granny Smiths have particularly high levels. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, aids in wound healing and with repairing and maintaining bones and teeth.

Next time you are at the grocery store or farmer’s market, keep an eye out for the varieties of apples that are grown right here in Wisconsin! It is always a good idea to buy local products as they do not have to travel as far and are fresher in taste. Of the types listed above, Gala apples are most likely to be grown locally. Continue Reading »

Packing a safe lunch 101

safelunch

With another school year in full swing, I thought it would be a good time to write about food-safe school lunches. Many parents or kids make school lunches to take to school. Each day their lunches are packed with nutritious foods (I hope!) that are safely wrapped or packaged. Even so, the contents can leak or spill. You may be packing a nutritional lunch, but is it safe? Here are a few tips to keep your little one’s lunchbox clean and healthy.

Washing

  • Before handling any food that will be consumed, wash your hands.
  • Wash any surfaces and utensils you will be using to cut or prepare the food, including counters, cutting boards, plates, knives, etc.
  • Rinse fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, even ones that have tough rinds or skins that won’t be consumed. Dry before packing.
  • While it is preferable to wash soft fruits such as strawberries or blueberries just prior to consumption to avoid wilting, chances are your child will not have a chance to do so at school. To preserve as much of the fruit’s integrity and still provide safe foods for them to eat, wash these and then blot them dry immediately. Put in them in a dry, airtight container.
  • If your child’s lunch bag can be washed, do so on a weekly basis, or more frequently if you notice any stains or spills. If the bag cannot be washed, wipe it with a moist, clean disposable wipe or a disinfectant wipe. Then let it dry.

Continue Reading »

September is now “A Time To Heal” for cancer survivors

atimetoheal

Regaining health after cancer means adjusting to a new normal, and whether you were diagnosed six months ago or 15 years ago, reaching that goal means something different to everyone. Just as survivors of cardiovascular issues undergo cardiac rehabilitation, you can benefit tremendously from post-cancer rehabilitation.

A Time To Heal (ATTH), a 12-week, holistic program for cancer survivors and their caregivers, aims to help you meet your health and wellness goals and tackle roadblocks along the way. This research-based rehabilitation program is free of charge and focuses on topics such as stress management, smart nutrition and supplementation, and dealing with anxiety. ATTH is open to people diagnosed with any type of cancer from any health care system.

Cancer and its treatment takes more than just a physical toll on survivors and their loved ones. ATTH can help survivors regain physical, emotional, intellectual, psychological and spiritual health after cancer treatments. Participants will benefit from guided gentle stretching designed to promote flexibility, clearer thinking and physical strength, as well as weekly instruction by experts on health-enhancing topics that can be taken out of the classroom and used to not just survive, but thrive. Continue Reading »

Back-to-school nutrition supplies

nutritionsupplies

Going back to school is a life event that brings a mixture of emotions for parents: relief that the erratic summer schedule is done, sadness at seeing their little ones start school for the first time or enter a new grade level, or pride in seeing their student reach milestones like high school or their first year of college.

My Facebook feed gets filled with school registration photos at this time of year, along with posts from parents stating how proud they are for beating the store rush and buying all of their school supplies a month ago. I was one of them, too. I also stocked up on healthy food items in preparation for packing my daughter’s lunch.

As you’re planning your student’s lunches, consider what would make for nutritious choices that she or he could consume in about 20 minutes that would also keep them full for a while. Below are my go-to choices for my daughter’s lunches this school year: Continue Reading »

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