NDSU Extension - Benson County



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Reduce your Risk of Being Overweight or Obese

A Taste

For Nutrition

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent

Family Nutrition Program/Family and Community Wellness


Reduce your Risk of Being Overweight or Obese

Being overweight or obese is when we have a higher weight that what is recommended for our height.  This is calculated through BMI (body mass index).  If you are unsure of what your BMI is, a BMI calculator can be found at www.choosemyplate.gov

Research has proven that having a BMI that is in a normal range can be very beneficial to our overall health.  Those that have too high of a BMI are at greater risk for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancers such as ovarian, gallbladder, prostate, liver, kidney, and colon. 

Whether you are overweight or obese now, or would simply like to reduce your risk for the future, here are a few things you can do to ensure your body is at a healthy weight. 

Begin by keeping a food journal.  While this may seem time consuming, most of us would probably be shocked by how much we eat if we wrote it all down.  Record both food and beverages and evaluate it after a few weeks’ time.

Next, set a personalized goal related to your current eating habits.  It may be increasing fruit and vegetable intake (you should aim for about 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables each day) or perhaps you could switch to lower fat or fat free dairy products.  Portion size is also an important factor to consider.

Reducing our risk of being overweight or obese goes far beyond food, though.  Making sure you get enough sleep is essential as well.  Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night.

Exercise is also a key factor in keeping our body healthy.  Adults need at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.  If you are looking to reduce your weight, more exercise is encouraged. 

Here is a delicious recipe for baked parmesan fish.  It includes ingredients from the protein, dairy, and vegetable group.  It is a perfect addition to any healthy meal.  Enjoy!

Baked Parmesan Fish


  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, non-fat (grated)
  • 1/3 tablespoon flour, all-purpose
  • 1 teaspoon thyme sprigs (leaves removed and crushed)
  • 4 fish fillets (white fish, 6 ounces each)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup halved mushroom caps
  • 1/2 cup green onions (finely sliced)
  • 1 cloves garlic (crushed)


Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cheese, flour and thyme in paper bag.  Individually coat fish by gently shaking in bag; discard coating ingredients.  Place fillets in baking pan on rack. Bake for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with fork.  Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms, green onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are tender. Season with ground black pepper.  Serve baked fish topped with mushroom mixture.

Makes: 4 servings.  Each serving contains 204 calories, 0 grams of fat, 227 mg of sodium, 8 carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 37 grams of protein. 




  • NDSU Extension Service, Health Wise for Guys: Overweight and Obesity, 2018
  • ONIE Project - Oklahoma Nutrition Information and Education
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The Importance of Healthy Fat

A Taste

For Nutrition

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent

Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science


The Importance of Healthy Fat

Fat tends to get a bad name, but the reality is, unsaturated fat (in moderation) can actually be helpful to our health.  Foods with unsaturated fat include: avocados, nuts, seeds (such as sunflower seeds and flaxseeds), canola oil, and olive oil (among many others).  Fish and seafood such as salmon and tuna are also high in unsaturated fat which can be very beneficial to your heart health.


Saturated oils, such as butter, lard, hardened vegetable shortening, and coconut oil should be used less often as they have saturated fat.  Eating too many foods containing saturated fats can lead to an elevated cholesterol level, which can essentially lead to heart disease.  In many cases, ¾ cup of oil can be substituted for 1 cup of solid fat for a healthier baking experience.


Another tool that can be used to track what kind of fat is being consumed, as well as how much fat is the Nutrition Facts label found on food products.  Compare how much unsaturated, saturated, and trans-fat is in the food you are consuming.  Try to look for foods that are low in, or do not have any saturated or trans-fat. 


Here is a recipe for creating your own homemade salad dressing.  Many dressings are very high in sodium.  Making your own dressing is a quick way to create a unique flavor for your next salad with the possibility of less sodium.  If you are not sure how much sodium is in your store bought dressing, or what type of fat it contains, simply look at the Nutrition Facts label for all of your answers.  Enjoy!


Salad Dressing


• 1 c. salad oil

 • 1/3 c. acid, such as red wine vinegar

• 1 tsp. garlic powder

• 1 tsp. onion powder

• ½ tsp. salt (or to taste)*

• ½ teaspoon black pepper



  • Oil: Try canola or olive oil. They have different flavors, but both provide healthful monounsaturated fats. Canola oil costs much less and will make your homemade salad dressing a bargain, compared with store-bought salad dressings.
  • Acid: Try different flavors of vinegar or fruit juice. With fruit juices, you typically can use more acid and less oil, making a lower-fat salad dressing.
  • Seasonings: Try any herbs or spices, salt, pepper or chopped vegetables (such as onions or peppers). Store salad dressing in the refrigerator. Put all ingredients into an airtight container. Secure the lid and shake until ingredients are combined. Salad dressing can be stored in the airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week

Makes: 48 servings.  Each serving contains 103 calories, 4 grams of fat, 74 mg of sodium, 16 carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein. 



  • Pinchin’ Pennies in the Kitchen, 7 Tips for Choosing and Using Healthy Oils and Fats, June 2017
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Butter or Margarine?

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science

If you are someone who enjoys cooking or baking, chances are you have questioned which is better for you, butter or margarine.  Over the years, both items have marketed themselves to have benefits.  Those using the products oftentimes choose one over the other because of its quality when baking.  With a wide variety of information out there about which is better, it can sometimes be confusing as to what to choose. 


Recent studies on the potential cholesterol-raising effects of trans fatty acids have raised public concern about the use of margarine and whether other options, including butter, might be a better choice.


It is important to keep in mind that saturated fats (butter) raise LDL but do not change HDL cholesterol. Trans fats (margarine) raise LDL and lower HDL.  As a quick review, LDL is “bad” cholesterol and HDL is “good” cholesterol.


It seems that butter would be better, but the answer is more along the lines of, "It depends."

Here are the facts:

  • Some stick margarines contribute more trans fatty acids than non-hydrogenated oils or other fats.  Check the labels to be sure.
  • Most margarine is made from vegetable fat and provides no dietary cholesterol.
  • The more liquid the margarine, i.e., tub or liquid forms, the less hydrogenated it is and the less trans fatty acids it contains.
  • Butter is rich in saturated fat, so it has the potential to be artery-blocking.


The American Heart Association does not recommend that you eat more saturated fats, or that you should substitute saturated fats for trans fats.


When you are selecting margarine, choose a tub or liquid form and most of all, choose a diet that is low in total fat and try to replace trans and saturated fats with healthier monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.


If you are looking for some healthy cookies this holiday season that are low in fat content, try breakfast pumpkin cookies.  They are a delicious treat that are packed with ingredients from the fruit, protein, vegetable, and grain group.  Enjoy!


Breakfast Pumpkin Cookies


  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin (pureed, cooked)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts (chopped)

Directions:  First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, and oil thoroughly.  Blend dry ingredients and add to pumpkin mixture.  Add raisins and nuts.  Drop by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheet.  Finally, bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

Makes: 48 servings.  Each serving contains 103 calories, 4 grams of fat, 74 mg of sodium, 16 carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein. 



  • Oregon State University Cooperative Extension Service, Healthy Recipes
  • Utah State University National Nutrition Certification Program, 2016
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Half Your Plate Meal Ideas

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science

When you look at your meal, keep in mind that half your plate should be filled with fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruits and vegetables.  Sometimes, incorporating fruits and vegetables can be difficult.  This is especially true if you and your family are not use to cooking with fruits and vegetables regularly.  Here are just a few simply ways to fill half of your plate with vitamin packed, nutritious foods.


  • Top your cereal with bananas or fresh or dried berries.
  • Make a smoothie with frozen, canned or fresh fruits. Add yogurt or juice and blend.
  • Add chopped veggies (peppers, onions, spinach) to your omelet or scrambled eggs.


  • Pack a whole piece of fruit (apple, orange, pear, etc.) to enjoy with your lunch. Rinse it in water at home before you leave.
  • Add veggies, such as spinach, cucumber slices or tomato slices, to your sandwich.


  • Have cut-up fruit such as cantaloupe or watermelon in containers in your fridge where there are easy to see.
  • Keep some dried fruit such as raisins or dried cranberries in a plastic bag for quick snacks.
  • Try freezing red or green grapes as a sweet treat.


  • Have steamed vegetables as a side dish.
  • Add extra veggies to soups or casseroles. Add shredded carrots to chili. Try adding some frozen veggies such as peas during the last few minutes of cooking brown rice.
  • Enjoy fresh or canned fruit as your dessert. Try sprinkling apple slices with cinnamon to enhance their natural sweetness.

Here is a recipe for autumn vegetable succotash.  It is a delicious blend of vegetables that would be perfect for any meal.  Enjoy!

Chicken and Broccoli Bake


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 2 cups bell pepper (red, diced)
  • 2 cups zucchini (diced)
  • 2 cups summer squash (yellow, diced)
  • 3 cups lima beans (frozen)
  • 3 cups corn kernels (frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons sage (fresh, coarsely chopped)


In a skillet over medium-high heat, add oil.  Add onion; cook until translucent (2 minutes). Add garlic, bell peppers, zucchini, squash, lima beans, and corn.

3. Season as desired; cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender (10 minutes). Stir in sage and serve.


Makes: 8 servings.



  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, More Matters Recipes
  • Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service
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