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Fats: the good, the bad and the oily

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Dietary fats provide your body with energy and insulation, aid with vitamin absorption and support bodily functions. While some fats are essential, others have severe health risks. Here’s what you should know about the various types of fats.

• Trans fats can raise the level of bad cholesterol, provoke inflammation and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Hydrogenated vegetable oil, a major source of artificial trans fat, was frequently found in processed and deep-fried foods. As of June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration banned food manufacturers from using it. Small amounts of natural trans fat are present in meat and dairy products.

• Saturated fats occur naturally in animals and provide many of the same benefits as healthy fats. However, a diet rich in saturated fat increases bad cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to roughly five percent of your daily caloric intake. Sources of saturated fat include fatty cuts of red meat, dark chicken meat, poultry skin and high-fat dairy products.

• Unsaturated fats are healthy fats containing vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect cells. When consumed instead of trans and saturated fats, unsaturated fats help regulate cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disease. Some types of unsaturated fats, particularly polyunsaturated fats, are essential to normal body functioning. They play a role in blood clotting, blood pressure regulation and immune and nervous system function. Nuts, seeds, avocado, fatty fish and various plant-based oils contain high amounts of unsaturated fats.

Fats are a necessary component of a healthy diet. They’re also a major source of calories. Make sure you’re balancing your fat intake with sufficient fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins.

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3 key nutrients to monitor when switching to a plant-based diet

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Going vegetarian or vegan means you’ll need to review and adjust your eating habits. In particular, you’ll need to secure alternative sources of protein, iron and zinc. Here’s how.

Protein
The proteins we consume act as basic building blocks in our bodies, allowing us to build and repair tissue and to make hormones, enzymes and other important chemicals. While meat is a great source, vegetarians can get their fill by consuming dairy or eggs. Vegans can get theirs from nuts, pulses and soy products such as tofu, tempeh and textured vegetable protein (TVP).

Iron
Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin, which uses iron to bind oxygen molecules and deliver them to cells throughout our bodies. We don’t produce iron, so we have to get it from food. While iron is present in plants, it’s about twice as hard to assimilate than the iron contained in meat, which is why we need to eat more plants to get the same amount of iron.

Good sources of iron include dark green vegetables like spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale as well as quinoa, pulses and tofu. In addition, eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C can help us absorb iron.

Zinc
Our immune system needs zinc to function properly, but it’s hard to get it from non-animal sources. Nuts, whole grains, pulses and wheat germ are good sources of zinc. However, much like iron, the zinc in plant matter is harder to assimilate, so you’ll need to eat more of the foods it’s found in.

Reducing or eliminating your meat consumption is likely to improve your health, especially if you adjust your overall diet to avoid deficiencies. However, it’s a good idea to consult a healthcare professional for advice.

In addition to protein, iron and zinc, vegans and vegetarians should also keep an eye on their intake of vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and iodine.

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America needs more young farmers

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Did you know that less than 10 percent of American farmers are under the age of 35? America needs more young farm operators, but they need help. Here are the factors involved.

Older farmers are retiring
The average American farmer is 58 years old, which means that a large number of them will be retiring in the next few years. Currently, there aren’t enough young farmers to pick up the slack. In fact, while the proportion of young farmers is climbing, they’re still outnumbered by farmers over the age of 65 by six to one.

Without an influx of new agricultural workers, American consumers may end up having to rely on imported food more than before.

Farming practices are changing
Another reason young farmers are needed is that they bring a new perspective to agriculture. For the American agricultural industry to succeed in reliably providing food for the country’s growing population, it needs to adopt more sustainable, efficient and eco-friendly farming practices. Millennial farmers are better positioned to implement green farming technologies than their predecessors.

Young farmers face barriers
Unfortunately, while many millennials are ready to take up farming, few are able to afford land. Even those who inherit farms often lack the financial resources to operate them. The result is that farmland is being sold for commercial and residential development, further restricting access to it.

This could be a problem in the long term, as the demand for food is growing, both worldwide and in the United States.

More states are recognizing the crucial importance of ensuring the future of the agricultural industry. As a result, loan forgiveness programs and grants are increasingly available to prospective farmers, but more work needs to be done to safeguard America’s agricultural future.

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How adopting a plant-based diet could save you money

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Did you know that adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet could save you money? Here’s why plant-based meals are more affordable.

Cheaper protein
The vast majority of plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, peas and tofu are cheaper than the lean animal proteins recommended by public health agencies, including fish and chicken. In addition, dehydrated textured vegetable protein (TVP), which is often used as a replacement for ground beef, is cheaper and can be safely stored for months at a time.

Affordable fruits and vegetables
While the importance of eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is well understood and central to most nutritional guidelines, there’s a persistent misconception that they cost a fortune. This is likely because out-of-season fruits and vegetables need to travel long distances, thereby inflating their sale price.

In practice, it’s possible to eat lots of fruits and vegetables on a budget. In-season produce is often affordable, especially when locally sourced. Frozen fruits are also typically less expensive than their fresh counterparts and they aren’t any less healthy, although you should privilege those with no added sugar. Finally, remember that you don’t need to use the freshest vegetables to make soup.

Adding a few vegetarian or vegan meals to your weekly meal plan will allow you to save money and may even convince you to make a permanent switch to a plant-based diet.

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4 advantages of teaching kids about agriculture

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Many Americans take the food on their plates for granted. While emphasis is increasingly being placed on eating a healthy diet and consuming food responsibly, few kids are taught how their food is produced. Here are four advantages of teaching children about agriculture.

1. They’ll learn where food comes from
Farmers work hard to ensure that the food they produce is safe and nutritious. Understanding the importance of the work farmers do is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship to food and of responsible consumption habits.

2. They’ll be more conscious of the environment
A trip to the farm can be eye-opening for children. Seeing firsthand where the food they eat comes from will give them a sense of how closely the environment is tied to what’s on their plate.

3. They’ll feel connected to American farmers
As populations cluster in cities and suburbs, consumers are increasingly disconnected from the people who produce the food they eat. Visiting a farm and seeing that farmers need to provide for themselves and their families is likely to help young people appreciate the importance of supporting American producers.

4. They’ll understand key food issues
Agriculture and food in general are potentially contentious subjects. Debates about the right way to produce food and the kinds of foods we should eat are increasingly common. A basic understanding of how food is produced will help kids approach topics like sustainability, food security and ethical eating.

America needs more young farmers to meet the demands of our growing population. Learning about the importance of agriculture at a young age may help kids realize that they can be a part of the solution.

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For St. Patrick’s Day: A familiar dish with a twist

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Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.

Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavored butter that your mother used to make?

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.

Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

One of Ireland’s more famous foods is the humble potato which, when abundant was the source of song, and when scarce, the source of suffering.

A potato blight touched off starvation and ignited the complicated events that devastated west and south Ireland between 1845 and 1849, the years of the great Potato Famine. In those years, more than one million people died and another million emigrated, many to Canada and the U.S.

The famine and the potato live together in folk memory of the Irish, along with this simple, and familiar dish: Colcannon, meaning white-headed cabbage.

Even non-Irish will know the dish well as mashed potatoes. The traditional Irish mash was an inexpensive daily main dish. It adds a little cabbage or kale, perhaps with scallion, leeks or chives. Bacon or ham pieces can also be added.

Leftovers are fried up in the morning for breakfast with pork slices.

Here is one recipe from Taste of Home.

Ingredients
1 medium head cabbage (about 2 pounds), shredded
4 pounds medium potatoes (about 8), peeled and quartered
2 cups whole milk
1 cup chopped green onions
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter, melted
Minced fresh parsley
Crumbled cooked bacon

Directions
Place cabbage and 2 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking liquid; keep cabbage warm in separate dish.

In same pan, combine potatoes and reserved cooking liquid. Add additional water to cover potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, place milk, green onions, salt and pepper in a small saucepan; bring just to a boil and remove from heat.

Drain potatoes; place in a large bowl and mash. Add milk mixture; beat just until blended. Stir in cabbage. To serve, drizzle with butter; top with parsley and bacon.

Nutrition Facts
1 cup: 168 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated fat), 14mg cholesterol, 361mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 4g fiber), 4g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat.

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Are plant-based diets bad for athletes?

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There’s a widespread belief that adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet will impede an athlete’s endurance and strength. However, this is simply not true. In fact, all the nutrients an athlete needs to perform at their best can be obtained from a plant-based diet. Here’s how to do it.

Carbohydrates
Everyone needs carbohydrates, but athletes rely on them more than most people. This is because carbs are easily converted into glucose and thus, into energy.

As it happens, most carbohydrates we eat come from plant-based foods. Whole grain breads and pastas are a very good source of carbs, as are beans, rice, oats and fruits.

Protein
Athletes need protein to help their body repair muscle and to optimize the formation of glycogen, a complex molecule used in long-term storage of glucose. Many of the carbohydrate sources listed above are also good sources of protein, as are eggs, dairy and various forms of soy, including tofu and textured vegetable protein.

Micronutrients
Zinc, iron, calcium, iodine and vitamins D and B12 can sometimes be difficult to obtain in sufficient amounts without consuming animal-based foods.

While lentils, pulses, tofu and cashews are great sources of iron and zinc, their high fiber and phytic acid content makes these minerals harder to absorb. Fortunately, this is easily resolved by consuming foods rich in vitamin C, which helps with absorption.

Calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 are easily obtained from fortified almond or soy milk. Okra, bok choy and kale will also provide a lot of calcium, while mushrooms such as maitakes and Portobello are rich in vitamin D.

Finally, supplements are your best bet for iodine.

The bottom line
As long as athletes eat a varied diet that meets their nutritional needs, they can perform optimally without eating meat or animal by-products.

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Upcoming Events

Mar
31
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4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Mar 31 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
1
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10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 1 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
2
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 2 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 2 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
3
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6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
4
Sat
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 4 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
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10:00 am Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Apr 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Focus on Health Employment & Education Fair @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Two sessions: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Different vendors at each session. Held in the Science and Health Professions Building at LFCC’s Middletown Campus. Contact Taylor Luther for more[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 7 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
8
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 8 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]