Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Snacks!

School is finally out for summer! With that, comes very active and very hungry children! Here is a healthy snack that will be great (and fun) for your kids to make and enjoy.

To-Go Yogurt Parfaits

You will need:
Small ice cream cones
Fruit– berries, bananas, etc
Granola or nuts

1. Take ice cream cone and fill one third with yogurt.
2. Place one Tbsp of fruit on top of the yogurt.
3. Fill the rest of the cone with yogurt.
4. Top with more fruit and granola.

Take with you and enjoy!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Farmer's Markets have Started!!

It's that time of the year to venture out to your local Farmer's Market to let the seasonal produce drive your nutrition choices and exploration! If you can't tell... I love a good Farmer's Market and I'll give you a few reasons why:

1. Variety of Produce- The local Farmer's Markets here are great for supplying so much produce and so many different types of produce for our small area. We, of course, have a lot of seasonal produce in Iowa, but many of the farmers start their plants through the winter and can supply some of the produce before we even think to see it in our gardens.

2. Support Local Farmers- I grew up on a small dairy farm and I will always, always, be partial to those who put in the hard work to farm. I also do not have too much of a green thumb and I love that others will take the time to grow produce that I typically "kill off" in my small garden at home.

3. Education- Not only do the Farmer's provide an abundance and variety of products for us at the Farmer's Market, but most are very knowledgeable about how to use their products, how and where their products were grown, and what makes their product special. This is a great atmosphere for families and children soak up all the extra "summer" education.

4. Communication- The Farmer's Market forces you to get out into the (hopefully) nice weather and socialize with your community. Many of us have been stuck inside all winter and with all the technology these days, it's easy to forget how to communicate and be cordial!

5. Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition- Did you think I would skip this part?! What better way to drive menu and meal planning than picking up a few new fruits or veggies for your family to try each week? Not only will you be providing your family with a new taste appreciation for fruits and veggies, but you will also be introducing them to more vitamins and minerals than they have ever experienced before.

Support your local Farmer's Markets!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Flaxseed Fun

Recently, I’ve had many questions regarding the benefits and use of flax seed. Although flax seed is new to most health markets, the crop itself has been used as a healing treatment since 3,000 BC.

The recent flax movement comes after research shows that adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet can decrease the risk of heart disease, prevent some forms of cancer, decrease inflammation and flax provide extra fiber for a healthy colon.

Flax provides:
omega-3 fatty acids
alpha-linoleic acid (ALA)
soluble and insoluble fiber- soluble fiber assist in GI health and bowel movements; insoluble fiber assist in decreasing cholesterol levels in the body
lignans- a phytoestrogen compound that has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer in laboratory studies

Flax comes from a blue-flowered plant that is grown in the northern Midwest region and also Canada. Flax is also grown in other countries around the world. There are two types of flaxseed, brown and golden and both are similar in nutritional benefits. The most important thing to remember about buying and using flaxseed is that the “good stuff” is in the inside of the seed, and humans are unable to digest the outside seed coating.

You can buy whole flax seed and grind it fresh everyday, or you can buy it already ground. My favorite source of flaxseed is Bob’s Redmill Ground Flaxseed which can be found at both Hy-Vee and Fareway stores. It’s crucial to store flax seed in your refrigerator or freezer, since it is a fat and it can go rancid quickly. Using one tablespoon or 8g of milled flaxseed a day is an appropriate intake to meet ALA dietary needs. Milled or ground flaxseed can easily be added to recipes or can be used to replace other fats such as egg or butter in recipes. Ground flaxseed can also be added easily to yogurt or oatmeal in the morning.

*Did you know that omega-3 eggs come from hens which are fed flax seed meal?

Give flaxseed a try!

(Data provided by Flax Council of Canada)