It’s the Year of Pigs… at the Indiana State Fair!

It’s that time of year again… The 2010 Indiana State Fair will be underway on August 6 and last until August 22. As always, there is a fair theme this year and that is the Year of Pigs! Pork is a $3 billion industry in Indiana which makes it the 5th largest producer of pork in the United States. Now that’s a lot of pork chops! Also, according to the USDA, 94% of Indiana 3,000 pork farms are family owned and operated.

So, as your looking for something to do this summer, bring your family to The Great Indiana State Fair for a day filled with fun activities, live entertainment, tasty treats, livestock shows, and much more! Gate admission is only $8 for general admission with children 5 & under being free. However, you can get an even better deal by purchasing discount tickets for $7 at all Indiana Walmart stores, CVS/pharmacy stores, Indiana Farm Bureau offices, The Marten House Hotel, and the Indiana State Fairgrounds Ticket Office.

While you’re at the fair, be sure to visit the Our Land Pavilion to see the giant cheese sculpture. Only a few individuals know what it will be or how much will it weigh, so don’t miss the unveiling on Wednesday, August 11, at 12:00 noon. Also in the Our Land Pavilion, Purdue University and Indiana agricultural commodity groups will have interactive exhibits, demonstrations, etc.

Three new exhibits will be at the fair this year. First, is “Bridges to Japan” which brings together traditional and contemporary Japan and the close ties it has with Indiana. Japanese performances, food, and displays will truly take visitors on a trip overseas. Second, is “God Bless America” which is a 25-foot sculpture of Grant Woods’ famous “American Gothic”. Last, but certainly not least, is the Habitat for Humanity Home. It’s a 5-bedroom home on the fairgrounds’ north side, and it will be there for the first 15 days of the fair.

If you want an even better deal than those mentioned before, bring your family to the fair for $2 Tuesdays Taste of the State Fair. On both Tuesdays (8/10 and 8/17), visitors will be admitted for just $2, compliments of Turkey Hill Dairy, but don’t forget to print the voucher from its website. There will also be numerous $2 deals for midway rides and food concessionaires… yum! In addition, you can purchase an ISF-Midway Combo Pass which includes State Fair admission and a Midway ride pass for only $25. They can be bought at all Indiana Walmart stores until August 8 for a savings of $8!

For a more inclusive list of events and deals, go to The Great Indiana State Fair website. We can’t wait to see you there!

2010 Indiana Dairy Princess Crowned

2010 Indiana Dairy Princess, Elles Niessen

Elles Niessen of Lewisville was selected as the 2010 – 2011 Dairy Princess for the American Dairy Association of Indiana. The crowning took place before a crowd of dairy industry members, their families and friends, on Tuesday, July 27, at the Embassy Suites North in Indianapolis. Elles, age 20, is the daughter of Nico and Milly Niessen. She represented the Dairy Farmers of America in the 2010 Indiana Dairy Princess Scholarship Program. Elles is a sophomore at Indiana University School of Nursing.

Retiring Princess Audrie Koester of Wadesville ended her reign by turning over the title to Elles and wished her well as she represents the Indiana Dairy Industry throughout the coming year.  Elles will serve as the official goodwill ambassador for Indiana’s dairy farmers during the year by making a number of public appearances and participating in promotional events. As the Indiana Dairy Princess, Niessen receives a $1000 scholarship from the American Dairy Association along with other gifts of appreciation from sponsors.

Contestants were judged on poise, personality, speaking ability, education and dairy background.  Judges for the contest included Leah Beyer – Director of Livestock for the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Marketing Council, David Blower – Associate Publisher and Editor for Farm World and Martha Rardin – Director of Nutrition and Dietetics for Hendricks Community Hospital. Miss Niessen’s presentation was on the importance of ‘Going Green’ and ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.’

Indiana has more than 1600 dairy farms that produce the wholesome, nutritious product – milk. Indiana dairy farmers produce over 3 billion pounds of milk annually and the state is the second-largest producer of ice cream. As Dairy Princess, Elles will be educating the public and her peers on the importance dairy in Indiana’s economy and Hoosier’s health.

Start a New Health Initiative for the Whole Family

Written by guest blogger Jessica Stoscup, Ball State University Dietetic Intern

National Parents Day is Sunday, July 25, and every parent wants what’s best for their children including healthy eating habits and adequate physical activity. But, like many parents, you might have some concerns since it can be hard to get your kids to eat right and be physically active. You ‘re right to be concerned as many children with poor eating and physical activity habits are at an increased risk for becoming overweight and developing future health problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many others. The good news is that YOU can start them off right and plant the seed for good nutrition and physical activity. When it comes to eating right, kids take the lead from their parents. For this reason you must become their number one role model! Here are some tips to help the whole family develop healthy eating habits and get moving.

Healthy Eating Habits Start with the Basics

You are the one that controls what foods come into the house. Give kids the opportunity to choose from a variety of healthy foods. You may want to keep snack items readily available such as milk, cheese, crackers, yogurt, fruit, and cut up vegetables. Try to eat together as a family as often as possible. By doing so, children can see you enjoying your favorite fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk. It also gives your family a chance to share their day’s activities. Make sure everyone eats breakfast, including you! Have quick options such as low-fat milk, yogurt, whole grain cereal, pieces of fruit, or whole wheat bread with peanut butter to get your day started. 

The Best Exercise of All

For good health, everyone should strive for 60 minutes of physical activity daily. All kinds of activities count so encourage your kids to get moving by doing a variety of different activities that everyone loves. These activities could include walking, dancing, riding bikes, swimming, playing soccer, going to the zoo, or even climbing stairs! You want to start by being physically active yourself and showing a positive attitude towards it. By getting your kids actively involved it will help give you more quality time together, exercise boosts energy levels, it helps with stress management, and this will instill the passion for physical activity in your children hopefully for a lifetime.  

Being Healthy Doesn’t Have to be Time Consuming

With today’s hectic lifestyles you might think you don’t have enough time to fit this in everyday. Spending a little time on the weekend to plan next week’s meals and snacks can help out a great deal. Plus, this way you only have to make one trip to the grocery store. Getting your kids involved can save time too, especially with meal planning and meal preparations. Even the youngest kids can dip up yogurt for dessert or tear lettuce for a salad.

By working together as a family, you can get everyone on track to follow a healthy eating and physically active lifestyle!  Let’s begin now!!!!

Family Fitness CAN Be Fun

A family bike ride is a great way to spend time together while exercising.

Wellness, fitness, health, – no matter what the word is to describe ‘keeping your family healthy’, it is the one topic that is in the front of people’s mind.  There is discussion these days about children’s health and the public is starting to become more involved including parents, doctors and teachers. So how can you become fit?  Being fit is a way of saying a person eats well, gets a lot of physical activity and has a healthy weight.  

Parents have a huge impact on their children’s health. Some steps only parents can take like serving healthy meals, drinking milk with their meals or deciding to take a family bike ride. But kids can take charge, too, when it comes to health.

Instead of watching TV as a family bonding activity, think of fun and creative activities that will surely catch the interest of your young ones. For example, if you choose dancing as a weekend activity, have your children dress up in funny costumes they made themselves. You may also choose to get a pet to help your family do the exercise activity together. Getting involved with competitive sports activities like basketball or swimming is also a great way to boost your children’s interest in exercise.

Make nutritious food fun!

Eat a variety of nutrient rich food.  Nutrient-rich foods give you the most vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for the fewest calories. You may have a favorite food, but the best choice is to eat a variety. If you eat different foods, you’re more likely to get the nutrients your body needs. Taste new foods and old ones you haven’t tried for a while. Some foods, such as green veggies, are more pleasing the older you get. Listed our examples of nutrient rich foods:

  • Brightly colored fruits and 100% fruit juices
  • Vibrant colored vegetables and potatoes
  • Whole, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods
  • Low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Lean meat, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts

 Kids can help make snacks and meals. Make the food fun so your child will keep interest in the project. Here is a fun snack idea that is also a great source of phosphorus, protein, thiamin and calcium:

 Ants Hiding in a Log from the Anteater

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of enriched white or whole wheat bread
  • 4 Tbsp cream cheese, fat free, softened
  • ¼ cup raisins, unpacked (ants)

Instructions:

1.    Remove crusts from the bread.

2.    Spread half the cream cheese on each slice.

3.    Cut each slice into 3 strips (logs). 

4.    Place 15 – 20 raisins in a line on two strips. Stack the two strips together, cheese and “ants” side up.  Place the third strip on top, cheese side down, to form a triple-decker. Repeat with remaining bread strips and raisins to make another sandwich. You now have ants hiding in a log from the anteater. 

Eating right and being active does take time, but by leading a healthy lifestyle you are making your family a priority too!

It’s Time to Fire Up the Grill!

The sizzle of burgers and smell of smoke from ribs roasting slowly on the charcoal grill, or the flame from a marshmallow that got a bit too close to the embers are all great flavors and spectacles to enjoy during this great month of grilling! In case you weren’t aware, July is National Grilling Month… Mmmm!

Grilling is a sport of passion, and whether a novice or professional, weekender or life’s calling, grilling has some basic rules for a perfect return on time.  Burnt and charred is not the mantra you wish to hear, bark and mop are the preferred references.  But, before you get started on that perfect entrée, you may want to consider these suggestions for the type of grill to choose.  Don’t fret; cooking on the grill is really as simple as baking in the oven if you have a gas grill.  If you’re using charcoal, the indirect heat will give you more time to observe your food and not have a charred briquette.

What foods to begin with?  America’s favorite is the burger! Purchase fresh beef, turkey, bison or a combination, and then flavor it up!  Diced onion, Worcestershire sauce, and salt/pepper are a great start.  Shape the burgers into a ball and handle it as little as possible.  You want a juicy burger, not a hockey puck!  Burgers well up in the middle, so make a small dip in the center and cook about 7 minutes on one side.  DO NOT SMASH.  Flip and cook another 5-7 minutes on the second side until desired doneness.  Grab your favorite cheese, and add a couple of slices.  Be sure to allow it to melt before removing the burgers from the grill.  Then, place them on a platter for a few minutes with a piece of foil “tented” over the top to let the juices back into the meat!

Don’t stop at burgers!  Roasted vegetables, chicken stuffed with herb cheese and wrapped in bacon, breads with garlic herb butter, and dessert are also great on the grill!  Try making adult S’mores.  Take a slice of pound cake stuffed with chocolate and pecans.  Brush it with melted butter, and then grill it.  Last, serve it with fresh raspberries and ice cream or whipped topping. Yes, you can become a grilling pro and celebrate National Grilling Month on the patio with your family and friends.  Getting back to the table is so much easier when the smells lure them home!

In Honor of Cow Appreciation Day – A Trip to the Farm

Written by Guest Blogger Victoria Parry, Ball State University Dietetic Intern

The life of an intern is far from boring with today being no exception!

I was presented with the fabulous opportunity of visiting an actual dairy farm today. Although I grew up in Indiana and have lived here my entire life, I have never toured a dairy farm. The farm I visited was Kelsay Farms (http://www.kelsayfarms.com/) in Whiteland, IN. This dairy and crop farm has been family owned for six generations, starting with a land grant by President Van Buren in 1837. I felt quite privileged to be able to tour such a history-rich farm.

My tour started with the milking parlor—possibly one of the most interesting parts of the farm. They were lined up outside of the parlor, just waiting to be milked. It was quite funny because the cows seemed very excited and continuously tried to enter the milking parlor. Once in the parlor, the cows went straight to their respective stalls without being directed or led. Clearly, these cows were much more familiar with the milking process than I. The entire process only lasted a few minutes, and then we were ready for the next group.

After the parlor, we visited one of the barns. The cows were very friendly and quite curious about their visitor—me. They came to the edge of the barn and listened to my tour guide explain the barn set up to me. I was very surprised as to how tailored the feed has become for a cow’s diet. I was able to pick up a sample of the feed being given to the cows; it was composed of four parts and packed with nutrients. The cows seemed to love their food and were constantly eating.

After visiting the big cows in the barn, I went to visit with the calves. I saw three calves today with one of the calves having been born only a few minutes prior to my visit. I watched as the mother cow’s colostrum was milked and given directly to the newborn calf. After her first meal, the calf decided it would try to stand up. Although she put forth a good effort, she was unsuccessful and decided to wait a few more minutes before taking her first few steps.

I was most surprised to find out that the dairy farm actually offered events and public tours in the fall. This particular farm grows a 5-acre corn maze which will host trick-or-treating this year. The farm also offers tours, live music, games, and more for the whole family. Needless to say, I greatly enjoyed my visit and will definitely have to come back later in the season for the full calendar of events!

Celebrate National Blueberry Month

I am quite excited I get to write the blog on National Blueberry Month because it is truly one of my favorite foods! July was proclaimed National Blueberry Month by the United States Department of Agriculture on May 8th, 1999. Blueberries are grown in 35 states in the US, and the United States produces over 90% of all of the blueberries in the world. They have been used in soups, stews and more, for centuries.

 Here is a little blueberry trivia:

  • It is the most popular muffin in the U.S.
  • The blueberry is the official state fruit of New Jersey.
  • August is National Blueberry Month in Canada.

 I make certain that I always have them on hand. They are delicious in yogurt, cottage cheese, cereal, ice cream or by themselves. Here are some other fun ways to include blueberries in your diet:

  •  Put a blueberry smile on your pancakes.
  • See how many blueberries you can fit on top of one cupcake.
  • Add blueberries to your peanut butter sandwich and call it a PB&B.
  • In a glass, layer blueberries, yogurt and crushed cereal or granola — Grab a spoon and dig in!
  • Make a sheet cake with vanilla frosting, and alternate a row of blueberries and a row of strawberries for a festive summer treat

    A blueberry smoothie is a refreshing, tasty way to get calicium and antioxidants into your diet.

Blues Buster Smoothie

  • 1 (6-ounce) container low-fat blueberry yogurt
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/3 cup frozen sliced peaches
  • 5-6 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients with ice (amount of ice will vary depending on desired consistency). Pour into a glass and serve chilled.

 Blueberries are considered a “superfood” because of the many healthy nutrients they contain. Did you know that eating blueberries could also be one of the keys to living to a ripe old age? Well, if you take a look at the research, blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, which foods reduce your chance of getting cancer and heart disease. Out of 40 different fruits, juices and vegetables, the blueberry comes in with the highest antioxidant level according to the North American Blueberry Council.  Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, and in one serving there is almost 25% of your daily requirement for vitamin C.  They are also a great source of dietary fiber and manganese. With Just 80 calories per cup – it’s a win – win for your whole body.