Friday, March 16, 2018

Celebrate Health with Wise County Health Fair

As you mark your calendars for the many activities taking place this spring, I would like to encourage you to make plans to attend the Wise County Health Fair scheduled for Saturday, March 24 from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm at the Decatur Civic Center.  The Health Fair is sponsored by United Way and is promoting a healthier Wise County through community awareness and education.
An added feature this year will be the opportunity to dispose of prescription drugs that are expired or you no longer use. Thanks to the Decatur Police Department for making the Drug Disposal Box available. 
Fit Fun for Everyone, a Fitness Celebration will include Fitness stations set up by local Fitness Facilities, individuals, and student groups. Registration begins at 9:45 a.m. in front of the Civic Center with the first 50 participants to receive a t-shirt.  There are many additional prizes for participants visiting the fitness stations.  Adults and children are encouraged to participate from 10-11am.  This event is free.
There are many other free opportunities as well.  You will want to take advantage of numerous free health screenings. Several popular activities are returning such as: Face painting; child fingerprinting by the Wise County Sheriff’s office  Participants will be able to take part in plant pals offered by Wise County 4-H; and the Carter Blood Care unit returns. 
Entry forms for booths/displays/activities space are available via the United Way website at You may also contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341 for additional information.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Cleaning the Kitchen Cupboard: Toss or Save?

Have you looked — REALLY looked — at the foods in your kitchen cupboards lately? Is it time to bid some foods a fond farewell? Can you “revive” some aging foods so they still can be used? Read on for tips from Nebraska Extension specialists to help you decide whether to toss, move or try to save common kitchen cupboard foods.
The following storage tips are based on food stored at a room temperature of about 70° F. The times are those generally cited for maintaining best food quality. A range of times and the more conservative recommendations are given to allow for age of the product when purchased, how long it has been open, etc. READ LABELS CAREFULLY — they often contain important storage information and recommended “use by” dates.
·         Baking Powder — 12 to 18 months or expiration date on container.

  •  Storage Tip: Store tightly covered in a dry place. Make sure measuring utensils are dry before dipping into the container. Testing for Freshness: Mix 1 teaspoon baking powder with 1/3 cup hot water. If it foams vigorously, it still has rising power.

·         Baking Soda — 12 to 18 months or expiration date on container.

  • Storage Tip: Store tightly covered in a dry place. Make sure measuring utensils are dry before dipping them into the container. Testing for Freshness: Place 1-1/2 teaspoons in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar. If it fizzes, then it will still help leaven a food. If it doesn’t fizz, use it as an odor catcher in the refrigerator.
·         Shortening — 3 to 8 months opened; 8 to 12 months unopened
  • Storage Tip #1: Store in a tightly closed container in a cool, dark place.
  • Storage Tip #2: Times reported by shortening companies and other sources varied. For more specifics, contact the company for more information.
  • Storage Tip #3: Shortening that has been stored too long will go rancid and develop an undesirable taste and odor. If you haven’t used a shortening for a while, smell it before using it in a recipe.
·         Canned Foods — 1 to 2 years
  • Storage Tip #1: The Canned Food Alliance <> recommends eating canned food within 2 years of PROCESSING for best quality. Many cans will include a “for best quality use by” date stamped somewhere on the can. In a well-run and busy store there should be a fairly constant turnover of canned goods, with cans on the shelf only a short time before you purchase them, according to the Canned Food Alliance. Some products contain a code, which varies among companies, that identifies the production date. If you have a concern over how old a food is, call the company’s toll-free number (if listed on the can) or write to the address on the can.
  • Storage Tip #2: Avoid refrigerating OPENED canned foods in their can. Food can develop an off-odor from the can, once opened. Transfer to another storage container.
Don’t hesitate to contact the Extension office at (940) 627-3341 for further information on whether to toss, mover or try to save common kitchen cupboard foods.

Making Fruits and Vegetables the Easy Choice!

In Texas, three out of four deaths are attributed to a chronic disease. However, studies show an intake of at least two and half cups of vegetables and fruits per day as part of a healthy eating pattern can reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. March is National Nutrition Month®, and an opportunity to discuss how to “Go Further with Food”.  We know a healthy eating pattern including fruits and vegetables can help to lower risks of developing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Lifestyles are hectic; however, increasing fruit and vegetables can be easy. Here are a few tips from Danielle Hammond-Krueger, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Program Specialist for making fruits and vegetables the easy choice!

Choose to make half your plate fruits and vegetables.  The rest of your plate should be one-quarter grains and one-quarter protein foods with low-fat dairy on the side. MyPlate is a guide to making a healthy meal yet not every meal will look like MyPlate. For example a sandwich may not fit in each portion of the plate; however, making a sandwich with whole grain bread, lean protein, a slice of low-fat cheese, and adding lots of vegetables with a side of fruit make a healthy plate.

Choose a variety of colors.  The colors in fruit and vegetables are not just to make them look pretty.  Fruit and vegetable colors are complex and those colors pack a healthy punch in reducing the risk of developing various chronic diseases.  Be sure to vary the colors on your plate.

Choose whole fruits and vegetables over juice. Choosing whole fruits and vegetables provides fiber, less added sugar, vitamins, and minerals. Eating patterns high in these nutrients have shown to reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.

Choose to prep your snacks ahead of time. Busy schedules can sometimes mean reaching for unhealthy snacks. During the weekend, package small snack bags of bell peppers, carrots, strawberries, or your favorite fruit or vegetable for the week.  Place them in a spot you can see in the refrigerator. This may help to limit choosing less healthful and tempting snacks!

Choose to make fruits and vegetables exciting. Create a fruit and veggie contest. Making fruits and vegetables part of a child’s healthy eating pattern establishes positive behaviors early.  Children learn from watching you.   Try having a fruit and veggie contest once a week. It can be a simple game of name five blue fruits! The prize could be choosing the fruit for dessert tonight.

Choose fruit and vegetables to start the day. Fruits can be an easy choice at breakfast food. However, mix in some vegetables too.  Try adding spinach to your eggs, avocado to your toast, or tomatoes to a breakfast sandwich.

Choosing fruits and vegetables can be an easy task, if you plan and prepare healthy options in advance. Making small creative changes can benefit your overall health.  Over time choosing more fruits and vegetables can help prevent chronic disease.

For more tips on improving your fruit and vegetable consumption, contact the Extension office at 627-3341.