Hello again! Amanda here, and I’m excited to chat about sweet corn! You can’t walk into the produce aisle of the grocery store without seeing a display of sweet corn. The same is true for the farmers market. Sweet corn is an abundant item these days!
I like to look at food with a nutritional eye. For me, I have to enjoy eating a food, and I also like it to really enhance my health in some way. Taking a look at the nutrient density of a food is a great way to do this. What is nutrient density? Simply stated, nutrient density is the amount of nutrients you get from a food, given the number of calories it contains.
Alright, so let’s take out our fine tooth comb, and inspect the nutrient profile of sweet corn, shall we? According to Nutrition Data, a one cup serving of raw yellow sweet corn has 132 calories. So what? Well, let’s consider that this one cup serving has 21% of our daily value of thiamin (or Vitamin B-1), which helps convert carbohydrates to energy, as well as regulate the flow of electrolytes to cells. Let’s also consider that this same serving has 18% of our daily value of folate. Yellow sweet corn also contains the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for healthy eyesight. Looks like a nutrition win!
There are so many amazing sweet corn recipes out there. Here is one from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture:
Grilled Garlic Corn on the Cob
4 tablespoons of butter, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon chili powder
4 ears of corn
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together the butter, garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper and set aside.
Carefully pull back husks on corn without pulling them off. Remove the silk from the corn. Fold husks back into place.
Place the corn in a large bowl and cover with cold water for 15 minutes. Drain corn.
Open one side of husks and brush 1 tablespoon of garlic butter over each piece of corn, season with salt and pepper and pull husks back up. Tie ends of corn with kitchen string or one of the outer husk layers. Set corn 5 to 6 inches over heat and grill for 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Wrap in foil to take to a Tailgating party.
Variation: Remove husks and silk, wash and dry. Brush generously with garlic/chili butter, wrap in foil and bake in 350 oven for 35 minutes.
What is your favorite way to enjoy sweet corn?
In this three county area, we are abundant with agriculture. Farmers, just like everyone else, can benefit from regular strength training. Why should farmers focus on strength training? Easy. Let’s discuss.
Depending on what kind of farmer you are, you have seasons. ”In-season” might be planting and harvest if you are a grain farmer. ”Off-season” is the rest of the year then. When you are in season, you are probably on the go, your body gets beat up like crazy, and you come home after hours and hours and hours of work with a sore body. Then the aches and pains set in. Realistically, your body cannot handle this type of beat down. It needs to be stronger, and strength training in the off-season is a perfect way to handle that.
Farmers generally drive large pieces of machinery….over rough terrain (plowed fields, for example). Two things happen here. First, your body, already in a seated position with stress on your low back, is getting bounced and jostled around. Well….if you have poor posture and a weak “core,” this can become a recipe for disaster. You lack the strength to actually hold your spine stable, and injuries, or just nagging low back pain can occur. Secondly, sitting in a tractor for hours on end can lead to “lazy” glutes. Don’t read that wrong…YOU aren’t “lazy.” Your glutes are. Lazy glutes mean they don’t remember how to fire correctly, or fire at all. Which means when you pick something up from the ground (a hay bale, a bag of seed, or any other heavy farming object), you probably aren’t using your glutes…you are using your back. This will lead to back pain, or injury, or a host of other ugly issues over time.
Farmers also end up needing some explosive strength every now and again. Really? Yes! Think about it….bags of seed don’t get into the planter by themselves. A farmer has to somehow get it off the ground, or off the bed of a truck or wagon, and hoist it explosively upwards to dump it into the planter. Not a grain farmer? I bet you then have livestock, and they need to be fed or bedded somehow too…probably with a bale of hay or straw. That hay has to be baled and stored at some point…which means it has to be picked up off the ground and stacked. The throwing and stacking of bales is majorly explosive. Think about doing those moves with a rounded back or spine, and you will eventually have an injury. The question is not “if” you will have an injury…it is “when” you will have an injury.
How could farmers strength train? Easy. Keep it simple. Here’s a list of exercises to possibly include:
- Deadlift – in many variations. Start with just a basic kettlebell deadlift to get the pattern down, and move to suitcase deadlifts with weight on one side only to find any imbalances. Consider adding some heavy kettlebell sumo deadlift holds as well to enforce that “zipped up” feeling. Now, picking stuff up off the ground will be the proper way….using the largest muscle group of your body!
- Plank – just a good old plank where everything is working – abs are braced, glutes are pinched, quads are flexed. Stability, stability, stability, and a strong core for the win!
- Turkish Get Up – getting up and down from the ground with a weight overhead will keep you stable while you move, keep your shoulders amazingly healthy, and teach you to work your body “as one.” No individual body parts here…your body parts learn to work together through the entire movement.
- Kettlebell Swing – explosive power! Get your swings in, and you will find throwing bales is no longer a huge chore. Some days swing heavy with low reps. Some days…swing lighter and go the distance.
- Loaded Carry – overhead, rack, and farmer carries here. Use mismatched weights, or just carry the weight on your “less strong” side first, and then your stronger side. Shoulders packed, abs braced, lats firing. YES!
Farming is not only physical, it is largely mental. When your income depends on the swing in the grain price, or the milk price, or the hog/beef price, or the weather….it gets stressful FAST. Honestly, strength training has such great mental benefits that farmers might consider it for just this reason if they see no other value in it at all.
Not sure how to perform the exercises listed above? Contact your local fitness professional to get you started in the right direction. As always, discuss beginning a new exercise program with your health care professional as well.
Do you include strength training in your fitness program? Should you? We are going to learn a bit about strength training today to help you decide if you should incorporate it into your fitness program.
As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass. Regular strength training not only helps us keep that muscle mass, it also helps us maintain bone health, boosts metabolism and helps control weight, and also helps manage chronic conditions such as back pain, heart disease, obesity, etc.
First things first…what exactly is strength training? Strength training is the use of resistance to build overall strength and anaerobic endurance.
Often times, when people hear the term “strength training” they picture someone very muscular, possibly looking a little like the Incredible Hulk, throwing large, weighted objects around and grunting loudly. That might sound extreme, but you get the idea. Strength training is actually gaining popularity as people realize the benefits of adding it to their routine. Strength training can actually be accomplished in a variety of ways, either in your own home or in a gym setting. Let’s look at some of the ways we add resistance when strength training:
- Use your own body weight. You can get stronger simply by moving your own body around. Exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and squats are all fantastic options here.
- Use free weights. Free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells are all excellent free weight ideas to incorporate into your strength training program.
- Use machines. Typically, machines are found in a gym setting, and are more ideal to use when someone doesn’t know exactly how to do other exercises.
Which option is best? As someone who regularly coaches individuals through strength training classes, my honest opinion is the method you can stick with. However, there are some things to consider when beginning a strength training program. Let’s look at them:
- Make sure you can perform the movement correctly first. When incorporating any new exercise in to your routine, take time to practice getting the movement and form down first. If you aren’t sure about exercises or form, seek out the help of a fitness professional to learn them.
- Add resistance (a free weight or poundage on a weight machine) after your form is flawless. Adding resistance to poor form is a recipe for injury.
- Incorporate rest periods into your workout. Rest periods, between sets and exercises are a must during a strength training workout to make sure your body recovers. This helps you keep your form locked in for the duration of your workout. If you find yourself getting sloppy with form, it is time to stop your workout.
- Incorporate rest days into your program. Rest days are necessary in any fitness program. Rest days are when your body takes the time to repair itself.
Should you include strength training in your regular routine? Generally, the answer is that most everyone can benefit from regular strength training in their fitness routine, but talking about it with your doctor to determine this is a good rule of thumb. Be sure to ask them if you have any limitations to consider with regard to strength training.
Please join us for some upcoming Farm to School field trips in Minnesota, a great way to bring local school districts, farmers, and community members together to advance Farm to School in your district!
Opportunity in the Meeker, McLeod, Sibley area:
August 8th - West Metro – Sibley East Public Schools and student farm. Check here for more information!
What are these trips all about? These field trips bring farmers and food service professionals together to gain a first-hand understanding of others’ operations, and how schools and farmers are working together to provide school children with farm fresh food!
What will you learn? Learn how farmers have navigated direct marketing relationships with local schools, and the on-farm procedures needed to make those relationships work. Also learn about the challenges facing school food service professionals in locating and buying from local producers, and how they are working around them to provide safe, healthy local food to their students.