NDSU Extension - Benson County



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You Are What You Eat

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

You may have heard the phrase, “you are what you eat” which could not be more true.  What we eat is directly linked to how healthy or unhealthy our body is.  All foods have some effect on our body, far beyond the effect of making us feel ‘full’.  We need to be aware of what we fuel our bodies with so that we can stay strong and healthy throughout our lifespan. 

It is probably no surprise to you that fruits and vegetables provide nutrients that make your body healthier.  What you maybe did not know is that different colors of fruits and vegetables each have unique vitamins and minerals that help specific parts of your body.

Red fruits and vegetables are known to help prevent heart disease, some cancers, increase memory function, and also helps to keep the urinary tract healthy.

Consuming yellow or orange fruits and vegetables can be beneficial to your vision, immune system, and can also prevent against heart disease and some cancers.

When choosing white and brown fruits and vegetables, you may be lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure.  This color of fruits and vegetables has also been known to fight infections and cancer.

Green fruits and vegetables can provide your body with strong bones, teeth, good vision, and healthy skin. 

Increased memory function, healthy aging, cancer prevention, and urinary healthy can be provided by consuming blue and purple fruits and vegetables.

Remember, the key is to eat a variety of colors so that you can enjoy the benefit of the fruits and vegetables you consume.  The healthier foods you choose, the better your body will feel.

Below is a recipe for Chicken Ratatouille.  It is packed with ingredients from the protein and vegetable group and is full of color.  Enjoy!

Chicken Ratatouille


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 chicken breast (medium, halved, skinned, fat removed, boned, and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 zucchini (7 inches long, unpeeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 eggplant (small, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 onion (medium, thinly sliced)
  • 1 green pepper (medium, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1/2 pound mushroom (fresh, sliced)
  • 1 can tomatoes (16 oz, whole, cut up)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons basil (dried, crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (fresh, minced)
  • black pepper (to taste)

Directions:  First, heat the oil in large non-stick skillet. Add chicken and sauté about 3 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Add zucchini, eggplant, onion, green pepper, and mushrooms. Next, cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley, and pepper; stir and continue cooking about 5 minutes, or until chicken is tender.

Makes: 4 servings.  Each serving contains 287 calories, 8 gram of fat, 369 mg of sodium, 20 carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, and 36 grams of protein. 



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Get more Calcium Now for Stronger Bones

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

Are you female? Are you over age 35?  Are you stressed?  Do you have a history of osteoporosis in your family? Do you consume more than two alcoholic drinks per day?  Do you smoke? 

The more questions you answered ‘yes’ to, the more at risk you are at for osteoporosis.  Whether you are at a high risk for developing osteoporosis or not, it is important to consume enough calcium now, so that you do not have to deal with osteoporosis later.

For those of you that are unfamiliar, osteoporosis is a disease in which the amount of bone in your body gradually decreases and weakens.  This means your bones will break or fracture very easily.  Even an intense sneeze can break the bones of someone with osteoporosis. 

To avoid osteoporosis, be sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week and vary your exercise routines.  Nutritionally, you need to make sure to consume enough calcium on a regular basis to ensure your bones stay strong.

Many foods contain calcium, so pick you favorites, and be sure to include them in your meal.  Here are just a few foods that contain calcium:

  • Yogurt (450 mg per serving)
  • Milk (300 mg per serving)
  • Cheese (150-270 mg per serving)
  • Tofu (260 mg per serving)
  • Soybeans (175 mg per serving)
  • Almonds (100 mg per serving)
  • Spinach (122 mg per serving)

To put this in perspective, someone ages 19-51 needs about 100 mg of calcium per day, and someone over the age of 51 needs about 1200 mg per day. 

Below is a recipe for baked parmesan fish.  It has ingredients from the dairy, vegetable, and protein group and contains 118 mg of calcium.  Pair this meal with a cold glass of milk to keep your bones even stronger.  Enjoy!

Baked Parmesan Fish


  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, non-fat (grated)
  • 1/3 tablespoon flour, all-purpose (1 teaspoon)
  • 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 239 calories, 1 gram of fat, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 249 mg of sodium, 45 grams of protein, and 1 gram dietary fiber.


  • NDSU Extension Service: Got Calcium? August 2016
  • ONIE Project - Oklahoma Nutrition Information and Education
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