Eat Local. Eat Healthy. Eat Beans.

By: Chef Brenda Wattles, RDN and The Idaho Bean Commission

According to the Idaho Bean Commission, the number one reason to eat Idaho’s beans is due to our rich volcanic soil and clean mountain water that produces the “highest quality, disease-free bean seed in the world.”  If that isn’t reason enough, Registered Dietitian and Chef Brenda Wattles adds five more reasons to eat our local, healthy food.

Beans are Versatile
There are ten varieties of beans grown in Idaho. All of which have their own flavor profile and texture that offer numerous ways to prepare them. Beans can be served as a main course or a side dish. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, beans can be considered as a main protein entree or a side vegetable. That is versatility at its best!

Beans are Easy to Prepare
Whether you are cooking them dried or straight from the can, they are easy! Dried takes a little longer, but the process is simple (*see instructions below). Once they are cooked and ready to go, add them to soups, hummus, salads, or even smoothies! Visit the Idaho Bean Commission’s website for recipes ideas.

Beans are Inexpensive
If you are looking to save money on your grocery bill, beans are a great cost-conscious alternative! Adding them to your menu as a main dish protein can cut your budget tremendously. Chef Brenda recommends making homemade black bean burgers, hearty vegetarian chili, or topping entrée size salads with beans as your main protein source.

Beans are a Protein and a Fiber-Rich Superfood
Most Americans are getting enough protein. However, they are often deficient by about 10 grams of fiber a day. By adding one cup of cooked beans to their diet, they will be adding about 12-16 grams of fiber a day. Additionally, beans are high in antioxidants.  They are also low in calories and saturated fat.

Beans are Excellent for Weight Loss
One cup of canned black beans is only 218 calories! Not only are they low in calories, they provide lots of bulk during digestion. So, they will keep you full longer! Adding beans to your diet is one of the best ways to get a variety of nutrients for such a small number of calories.

*How to Prepare Dried Beans
Rinse and drain one pound of dry beans. Discard damaged beans and any foreign material. Place in sauce pan and cover with 6 cups water. Either soak overnight or boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover, and soak for one to four hours. Discard soaking water. Replace with clean water and cook beans at a low boil for one to two hours, until beans are tender.

Rock Your Role!

By: Rebecca Sprague, MPH, Health Education Specialist, Suicide Prevention Program, Division of Public Health

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week is September 9-15. This will be a time when some of us honor loved ones lost to suicide. Many will renew efforts to prevent suicide deaths. It is also important to focus our attention on hope, help, strength and recovery!

We all have a very important role to play in suicide prevention and intervention.  Here are just a few ways that you can Rock Your Role!

  • Learn the warning signs
  • Watch for signs in friends, family & co-workers
  • Take action when you see signs of suicide in a person and get them to help

Suicide Warning Signs

  • Talking about suicide
  • Isolation & withdrawal
  • Agitation & sleeplessness
  • Nightmares
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increased use of alcohol/drugs
  • Talking about feeling hopeless
  • Previous suicide attempts

Taking Action

  • Call/Text/Chat the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 208-398-HELP or idahosuicideprevention.org/chat/
  • Take them to a crisis center near you (see crisis center information below)
  • Take them to the emergency department or doctor’s office
  • Schedule a visit with a behavioral health provider
  • Contact your employee assistance program

What are Your Strengths?

We’ve all got ‘em! But sometimes it can be hard to identify them, especially when we’re feeling down. Helping others identify their strengths or healthy ways to cope can be just the thing they need to get them back into a place of hope and recovery. These strengths can be any number of things. For some it means connecting with nature, for others it means singing, reading a good book, spending time with a pet, hanging out with a positive friend or talking to a counselor.

Crisis Centers

Idaho’s Behavioral Health Community Crisis Centers (BHCCCs) provide services to adults in need of mental health and/or substance use disorder crisis services. The BHCCCs are open 24 hours, seven days a week to assist adults 18 and older in crisis to become stabilized and connect them with community resources to help them effectively deal with their situations and avoid further crises.

Pathways Community Crisis Center of Southwest Idaho
7192 Potomac Drive
Boise, Idaho 83704

North Idaho Crisis Center
2195 Ironwood Court, Suite D
Coeur D’Alene, Idaho 83814

Behavioral Health Community Crisis Center of East Idaho
1650 N. Holmes Avenue
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83401

Crisis Center of South Central Idaho
570 Shoup Avenue West
Twin Falls, Idaho 83301

Healthy Eating While Vacationing

By: Jackie Amende, MS, RDN, LD, University of Idaho FCS Extension Educator

If you are road tripping or traveling abroad to a new and exciting place, you can still enjoy all the fun foods that come with traveling without compromising your healthful eating plan. Here are some tips for your upcoming summer vacation:

  • Focus on portion sizes. You don’t have to avoid those new and exciting foods that come with traveling. Share large food portions with your travel partner or go with the small size for just yourself.
  • Keep your regular meal times on vacation. It can be easy to graze on food all day while on vacation but try to stick with your usual eating pattern.
  • Watch what you’re drinking. Focus on water or other unsweetened beverages. Skip the sweetened and various adult beverages which are often loaded with unnecessary calories.
  • Pack non-perishable foods with you. Dried fruit, nuts, and pretzels make for relatively healthy snacks that are nutrient-rich. These non-perishable foods are perfect for a quick snack to satisfy you until your next scheduled meal time.
  • If you are road tripping, pack a cooler with fresh pre-cut vegetables and fruits. Try slicing some bell peppers and cutting up some celery sticks. In addition, keep whole fruit or sliced fruit ready to go.
  • Be physically active! Get outside and walk to enjoy the sites where you are vacationing. If you are on a road trip, schedule frequent stops where you can get out, stretch your legs, and take a short walk.

With these healthful eating tips, food safety is still a priority, especially if you’re road tripping. Bringing perishable foods with you like meats and cheeses may cause some unwanted foodborne illnesses if these items are not stored properly. Don’t store perishable foods unrefrigerated for longer than 2 hours. If stored in a cooler, make sure coolers are 40 degrees or cooler. In addition, don’t leave your cooler directly in the sun or in the trunk of your car on road trips. Putting the cooler in the backseat of the car will generally be cooler than the trunk. Finally, keep hand sanitizer or moist towelettes with you if you don’t have access to a restroom to wash your hands before and after eating. Now, enjoy your trip!

Want to learn more about healthy eating and/or food safety? University of Idaho Extension teaches many classes and programs in the area, like Eating Healthy on a Budget, Nutrition for Healthy Aging, Diabetes Prevention Program, Dining with Diabetes, and more. Check out the Canyon County UI Extension website at https://www.uidaho.edu/extension/county/canyon/family-consumer or call 208-459-6003 for more information.

Three Ways to Move More

We all know that physical activity is good for us, but it can be a challenge to fit fitness into a busy schedule. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults accumulate 150 minutes of moderate (or 75 minutes of vigorous) physical activity every week. This may seem like a lot, but every minute adds up! Activity bursts of five minutes here and there throughout your day  accumulate to help you reach your movement goals.  Here are three simple ways to add more movement to your day!

Set an Alarm Use an app on your smart phone or set periodic appointments on your calendar to remind yourself to stand up at least once every hour. Movement breaks can include standing to stretch, a quick walk around your office, or some chair squats to really get the blood flowing!

Be an Ele-voider If you think you don’t have time to take the stairs, think again! A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that taking the stairs rather than waiting for the elevator saved about 15 minutes each workday. That’s a 3% savings of time per workday, which could translate into more productivity as well as increased fitness.

Take Your Breaks Break times and lunch hours are the perfect opportunity to get some movement in! Make it a goal to get up and walk for 10-15 minutes each day during lunch. After the work week you will have added 50-75 minutes of activity to your weekly total! The added bonus is that mid-day activity has been shown to boost mood and increase one’s ability to manage stress.

Care for Your Colon!

Colorectal cancer is preventable and treatable when detected early. There are certain risk factors that affect a person’s chance of getting cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors cannot be changed, such as a person’s age or family history. Other factors can be controlled to minimize a person’s risk for getting cancer. There are six factors that have been linked to colorectal cancer.

1. Eat a Healthy Diet: A diet high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains has been linked to decreased risk of colorectal cancer. Add a variety of vegetables and fruit to your daily diet. Replace refined grain products made with white flour with whole grains like oats, spelt, and whole wheat.

2. Stay Active: Regular physical activity can significantly lower your risk of getting colorectal cancer. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. It all adds up, so it’s okay to start small by adding just a few minutes of movement at a time.

3. Watch Your Weight: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of getting colorectal cancer. Eating a balanced diet and staying physically active can help you reach or maintain a healthy weight.

4. Don’t Smoke: Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colorectal cancer. If you smoke and you want to quit, see the American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting Smoking or visit Idaho’s ProjectFilter.org.

5. Limit Alcohol: Colon cancer has been linked to heavy drinking. It is recommended to limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women. A single drink amounts to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of hard liquor.

6. Get Screened: Screening tests detect cancer before symptoms develop. Colon screenings often find growths called polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals over 50 years old get screened for colorectal cancer. Depending on family history and other risk factors, there are a variety of tests that screen for colorectal cancers. Talk with your doctor to learn more.

Too much chair time?

There are lots of reasons we don’t move much. Truth is…most of them are excuses. Our bodies are built to move not to mold into an office chair or recliner. Make a resolution to move more. Any chance you get, you move! Your body will thank you. Tips What’s your favorite way to put more action into your day?

Spring into action!

It’s finally here. I thought I would never see green plant life again after this winter. It’s actually exciting to see dirt and mud out my window. Yay for spring and all the changes it brings! Now for some spring cleanup. Looking around, I see stacks of “stuff” in my office and my house, begging to be put away. My pantry appears to be stocked with cold weather food staples, and I have yet to find my good walking shoes. So I made a little list for you and for me… What ideas do you have to spring into action and clear the winter clutter out of your life?

Mom was right.

You are what you eat. That thought goes through my mind while lying in bed after a “bad eating day” when everything I ate seemed to miss the mark. The awful truth, we really are what we eat. Our Moms were right.  The bottom line is the nutritional content of what we eat determines the composition of our cell membranes, bone marrow, blood, and hormones. Oh-oh! Some of us may have Cheetos intertwined in our cell membranes…just sayin. Its scary to think our medical destiny could be determined more by our forks and our feet than by anything else! One option is “clean eating” but it requires that you train yourself to read ingredient and nutrition labels. The fewer the ingredients and the closer to “whole” a food is, the better it most likely is for your body. Check out these resources… Think about treating your body like the high-performance machine it is. Feed it the right fuel. You won’t be sorry!

Get your sparkle on!

Holiday time can bring out the best – and the worst – in people. Don’t let the stress and hub-bub dull your attitude. Try these things to keep your sparkle on!

Wage a little hope.

Why bother? Because hope is all about possibility. Hope feeds your energy, creativity, and problem solving skills; it affects your sense of happiness and optimism. Hope recognizes that everyone and everything matters. It makes life worth living. That’s why you should bother. When hope gets damaged, it has a ripple effect. It can knock you out of equilibrium with your world, with your existence. It’s important to regain your balance and reconnect with a hopeful life. How, you ask?
  • Take care of your health through good nutrition, sleep, physical activity
  • Do a hope audit; know what makes you hopeful and connect with it
  • Cultivate hopeful relationships; surround yourself with hopeful people
  • Learn to forgive
  • Find resilience through meditation, breathing/relaxation exercises
  • Look for ways to make hopefulness tangible in your daily life
  • Reconnect with nature
  • Move through your fears
  • Be courageous
  • Set tangible goals that help you move beyond barriers
  • Remember, in time the things that are pulling you down will pass

Are you road worthy?

Fall happened this week. I had to search for a bed quilt, coat, and socks; things I haven’t seen since May; my feet screamed. It got me thinking…am I “road worthy” for winter? I know I’m ready for the fun things; I’m not so sure I am road worthy for challenges like staying active, winter sports, countering sugar with good nutrition, and fending off the flu and colds…just to name a few. I’m not even sure I can withstand a cold, late-night football game! So, here are some tips on becoming “road worthy” and for staying radiantly healthy this fall
  • Find your winter clothes NOW; remember how to dress in layers; get out your flashlight, gloves, boots, hat, hand warmers…
  • Keep moving – treat your senses to fall; walk in the leaves, cycle the streets, take a hike, visit a park; get outside and breathe in fall
  • Schedule your activity time; put it on the calendar  just like you do any other important event
  • Get a flu shot…and just in case, lay in a supply of Kleenex and cold decongestants
  • Sign up for a new fitness class or sport, one that can be learned and practiced indoors during the cold weather
  • Get 10,000 steps a day; use the stairs, stand at your desk, walk during breaks or lunch time…have a walking meeting; go out of your way to move
  • Manage your stress level; being indoors during the winter plays havoc with stress. Meditate, do yoga, read for enjoyment, spend quality time with family
  • Know your why; it’s easier to stay motivated if you have a reason beyond the moment
  • Watching more TV? Stay in motion at least during the commercials. Do lunges, stretches, and free weights
  • Holiday hint: Portion Control. It starts with Halloween!!
What’s your best “road worthy” tip for fall?

Monday Blues?

Are Mondays your least favorite day of the week? The Monday Blues can be a passing tiredness, an indication of a poor job fit, or a screaming need for an attitude adjustment. If hopeless, tired, sad, stressed, overwhelmed, impatient, and unpleasant pretty much describe you on Monday mornings – you may need to do something. Why? Because you deserve better and so do your co-workers! If Monday Madness has grabbed you and you feel you may be a victim of The Blues, check out some of these ideas…
  • Identify the problem; if your work leaves you feeling underappreciated, stressed, and overwhelmed – name it and claim it; then you can start dealing with it
  • Don’t dwell on Mondays like a looming dark cloud that dumps on your weekend
  • Get sunlight and fresh air on your weekend – refresh!
  • Be ready for Monday … start on Sunday by getting your food and clothes lined out; synch up your calendar
  • Dress like you want to be at work – it makes a difference!
  • Practice good self-care – don’t overdo Sunday with heavy foods/drinks
  • Get some sleep! Lack of shut eye makes everything and everyone more difficult
  • Focus on the things you are excited about in the week ahead
  • Eat a good breakfast
  • Try not to over-pack your weekend; have some down time
  • Have a positive attitude; use positive self-talk while you drive into work
  • Maintain a manageable Monday work schedule – keep it light when you can
Share what you do to make Mondays work for you…

Techno-Stress?

Huh? Guess what – heavy technology use (computers, phones, TV) is linked to fatigue, stress, and depression, particularly in young adults. All of our gadgets and screens are affecting our sleep. And, as we know, sleep is truly the gateway to good health. Specific findings…
  • Those constantly accessible via cell phones were the most likely to report mental health issues
  • Men who use computers intensively were more likely to develop sleeping problems
  • Frequently using a computer without breaks further increases the risk of stress, sleeping problems, and depressive symptoms in women
  • Read more…
What can you do?
  • Reclaim your bedroom!
  • Exercise regularly
  • Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake before bedtime
  • See a doctor or sleep professional if your problems persist
Think you and your family are immune to techno-stress? Do some self-reflection over the coming week. Most of us started using technology for efficiency and safety reasons…but think about it. When was the last time you went tech-free for the day? Can you put your phone/tablet away and out of sight during meetings, conferences, while driving? Do you feel left out or that you are missing out on something if you leave your phone at home? Do you check your work emails from home just because you can? If you are blurring the lines between work and home, the stress will eventually catch up. And, think of what you are modeling for your children! Choose to take control. Drive your own bus. Take charge of your technology. Share your ideas on how to manage techno-stress.

Women are special.

Heart disease – it is the #1 killer of women in America. Cardiovascular disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 American women’s deaths each year. Breast cancer takes 1 in 31 American women’s lives each year. In spite of these numbers, many women live more in fear of breast cancer striking than heart disease. Both are important women’s health issues; both deserve the time and attention of all women. Be in the know about heart disease and women. Know the warning signs, know the risk factors, and know how to stay healthy. Heart disease is not just a man’s disease; it is not just for “old” people; it does not occur just in frail or inactive people. Get the facts. What are you doing to take care of your heart?

Housewalking. Try it.

No time for the gym, for a run, or for a dog walk? Housewalking could be your thing! Housewalking is literally walking around your house whenever you can. It’s practical, available, affordable, requires no child care, no fitness trainer, no special clothing…and it can be done in all kinds of weather! Have you considered the irony of paying a membership fee to walk somewhere else when you have perfectly good floors at home? Think about it. Here’s how you start
  • Get a fitness tracker to track your steps and calories burned
  • Get a spill-proof water bottle to carry around
  • Decide: do you want to walk in place or around your house; either works
  • Decide: which of your at-home activities should be automatic walking opportunities?
  • Put an “are you walking?” note in areas where you typically just stand or sit…the recliner, the stove, the sink, the fridge
  • Set a goal – try to rack up 500 steps each time you housewalk
  • Examples of housewalking opportunities: on the phone, watching TV, cooking, brushing your teeth, listening to music, cleaning
  • Get friends involved – start a challenge
  • Make it FUN!
Share your experience housewalking!