'Tips for Healthy Eating'

Edith Lovett Pulaski County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

You may be one of the millions of Americans who resolved to start eating better and /or lose those extra pounds you are carrying around this year. Research shows that within a few days or weeks, most people have given up on their resolution to eat better and lose those extra pounds. This year we encourage you to take a systematic approach to those nutrition-related resolutions. Instead of resolving to "eat better and lose weight," set one resolution for each month throughout the year. This can improve the chance that your resolutions are kept and that they actually turn into new and healthy habits.

Let's begin this month by reducing your intake of artery-clogging saturated fat by switching from whole milk and dairy products to low-fat or nonfat milk and dairy products. This includes sour cream, yogurt, cheeses, and canned milk as well as whole milk. You will find all the reduced dairy products available at our local grocery stores. When cooking, limit those sticks of butter you use in those mashed potatoes and use low fat cheese in that macaroni and cheese dish.

For February start the month out by increasing your intake of fruits to two to three servings a day. Select a fruit instead of a piece of candy when you need a snack. Make it as easy to reach for a piece of fruit as it is to reach for a cookie by keeping a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter. Use canned or dried fruits for snacks on the go. Eat vitamin C-rich fruit like oranges, strawberries, or kiwi every day. Send your favorite Valentine a Fruit Basket instead of a box of chocolates.

March is a good month to increase your intake of vegetables to three to five servings a day. Three to four times a week, choose dark green, deep yellow and orange vegetables such as romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and carrots. You can find most of these vegetables in the fresh produce isles, in the frozen vegetables area and also the canned area. Vegetables are usually the cheapest items we purchase at the store, so serve your family lots of vegetables. The cold weather is also a good time to serve vegetable soups.

Instead of high fat, high sugar snacks, choose foods like whole-grain crackers, low-fat popcorn, pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn cakes, and graham crackers. Make sure your popcorn is not saturated with butter to save calories. If you are like most of us, taking one bite of an item with lots of sugar requires that we take another bite instead of just eating one. Fruits and veggies are excellent choices for snacks, so limit those high sugar snacks. In May, reduce your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol by eating at least one meatless meal each week. (Remember all cholesterol comes from animal products) This will also help on your budget as our meat is usually the most costly item on our grocery list. Plan menus that include bean dishes, pasta dishes, whole-grain bread, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Baked potatoes are easy to make and can function as the entree. Vegetarian chili is another option.

If you are a "salt person," in June, let's concentrate on using less sodium. Choose "low salt" or "no salt added" versions of foods such as crackers, nuts, canned vegetables, soups, and soy sauce. Purchase the salt substitute available at your store. Use less salt in cooking, and don't add salt to food at the table. Salt is an acquired addiction, so it will be hard to give it up.

We all love those fried foods, submerged in oil, but during the month of July let's plan to reduce your intake of fat by limiting fried foods to once a week or less. This includes fried meats, French fries, fried cheese, chips, grilled sandwiches, cheese curls, and fried vegetables.

For the month of August, boost your fiber intake by starting the day with a bowl of high fiber cereal. Look for cereals that have at least 4 grams of fiber per serving. Increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains will also help increase your fiber intake. Older adults need to reduce their risk of osteoporosis by including good sources of calcium in their diet. Low fat or nonfat milk or yogurt are the best sources of calcium. However, foods like leafy green vegetables, figs, beans, and salmon and sardines with the bones are good sources as well. Eat fish at least twice a week during the month of October. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, and herring contain omega-3 fatty acids which appear to reduce the risk of heart disease. You can also bake your "fish items" instead of frying them in a lots of oil, or use a nonstick frying pan. November is such as hard month to watch what we eat. As the holiday season approaches, begin practicing low-fat cooking techniques. Look for ways to modify your favorite recipes to lower the fat and calorie content. Baked turkey is always low in calories plus green vegetables have practically no calories. So fill up first on "green vegetables."

Christmas holiday means we usually have lots of company, are short on time because of all the other things we have to do during the month of December, so cooking is one of our least worries. Try to maintain your weight by sticking to a consistent exercises schedule and limiting high-calorie foods such as homemade candies and cookies. As you look back over the previous months, you will have now developed 12 new healthy eating habits to make you healthier in the upcoming year.

By Beth Fontenot, MS, RD., Food and Health Communications, Inc.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender, identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status or physical or mental disability.

Before you say "I don't like Kale" try this Kale and Potato Soup. If you can't find fresh kale in the produce department, you can find it in a can.

Kale and Potato Soup

4 teaspoons olive oil

1 chopped yellow onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 box (48 ounce) low-sodium chicken broth

6 red potatoes, diced

1/2 cup chopped carrot

4 cups shredded kale

1/2 pound cooked chicken breast, shredded

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, potatoes and carrot; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. If you use fresh kale, pull the green kale leaves off the stalk and throw the stalk away. Chop the kale up, and add it to the chicken broth, with chicken and black pepper. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until kale is tender. This will make 6- 1 ½ cup servings.

"Events at the Extension Office"

Need to know more information about new tax laws for filing your income tax for 2019? A free class will be held at the Extension Office on Thursday, January 16, starting at 5:30. Hispanic speaking people are also urged and invited to come as an interpreter will be available to help them with the new laws. Please call the office to register at 679-6361. A light dinner will be provided.

The Calendar Food Class will meet on Tuesday, January 21 at 11:30 at the Extension Office. We will be sampling the "Citrus Chicken Stir Fry." The New Food and Nutrition Calendars for 2020 are available at the Extension Office if you would like to pick one up. Other free items you can pick up are "Seasoned Soup It Up" magazine, and the "Growing Your Own Garden Calendar."

Our Card Making Class is held the 4th Monday of each month, starting at 10:00 o'clock. This is a free class and you learn a new card making technique each month. Join Denise Salter on Monday, January 27 at 10:00 in the basement of the Extension Office.

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