Friday, November 17, 2017

Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Festive Foods Can Fit in Diabetic Menu Plans

Special occasions are made more special by the foods served. Don’t let diabetes keep you from enjoying these festive occasions. Healthy eating can be part of party menus too.  To enjoy special-occasion meals while keeping your blood glucose levels in check, keep these practical tips in mind:
Use the Plate Method of portion control. When you’re filling your plate, use this method to help you balance the kinds and amounts of the foods you eat.  To use the Plate Method, first mentally divide a 9-inch plate into two halves. On one half of the plate, place two or more servings of nonstarchy vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, green beans, lettuce, and tomatoes. Then divide the other half of the plate into two quarters. In one quarter of the plate, place a serving of starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn or bread, pasta or rice. In the other space, add a 3-ounce serving of protein, such as meat, chicken or fish.   The Plate Method not only helps you estimate the right amount of food to eat, but it also allows for a variety of healthful foods.  A good example and activity using the plate method for meal planning can be found on the American Diabetes Association website at
            This homemade cranberry pecan sauce from the Texas A&M AgriLife Dinner Tonight website is an easy and flavorful twist on a staple holiday dish. If you want to avoid using canned cranberry sauce, or just try something new, here is a recipe that will make a great contribution to a holiday meal.
Homemade Cranberry Pecan Sauce

1 cup water
1 cup artificial sucralose (for example, Splenda®)
1 16-ounce bag cranberries fresh or frozen
1 cup apple chopped
1 cup pecans chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 orange juiced
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 lemon juiced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg ground

Combine water and artificial sucralose in a large sauce pan and bring contents to a boil.  Add cranberries and return to a rolling boil.  Once boiling, lower the heat in order for the liquid to simmer. Then add the remaining ingredients.  Cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove the sauce pan from the heat and let it cool. Serve with turkey or your favorite holiday meal! Cover tightly with plastic wrap until serving.  Makes 10 servings.

Nutrients per 1/8 cup serving: Calories: 140; sodium: 0 mg; carbohydrates: 18 grams; Dietary Fiber: 4 grams; protein: 2 grams; fat: 8 grams; sugars 8 grams

For more information on cooking with diabetes, call the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 940/627-3341.

Let’s Talk Turkey

It’s almost time to give thanks and feast on turkey with family and friends.  Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Wise County wants to make sure that the turkey you serve produces only compliments, and not complaints, by encouraging you to follow four simple steps to food safety: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
If you choose to buy a frozen bird you may do so at any time, but make sure you have adequate storage space in your freezer. If you buy a fresh turkey, be sure you purchase it only 1-2 days before cooking.
            Following are guidelines on the size of turkey to purchase: Whole birds- allow 1 pound per person; boneless breast of turkey- ½ pound per person; breast of turkey- ¾ pound per person. 
Before you begin working with poultry, or any potentially hazardous food item, one of the primary rules of food safety is to keep everything CLEAN by washing hands with warm/hot soapy water before preparing food, and after your hands have come in contact with raw turkey.
After purchasing, take your turkey home and store it in the freezer or the refrigerator.  Never store the turkey on the counter top, or any other place where the temperature reaches above 40 degrees F.
The safest place to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator.  Depending upon the size of your turkey, it may take up to 2-5 days to thaw in the refrigerator.  Place your turkey on a tray in the refrigerator to prevent its juices from dripping on other foods. As a rule of thumb, it takes approximately 24 hours to thaw every 5 pounds of turkey in the refrigerator. 
The turkey may also be thawed in cold water. Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound. Wrap the turkey securely; making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed and do not refreeze.
If the turkey is thawed in the microwave, it should be cooked immediately because areas of the turkey may become warm and begin to cook.  Follow the instructions on the package for thawing.
A turkey that is 8-12 pounds will take approximately 3 hours to cook.  12-14 pounds will take 3 to 3.75 hours, 14-18 pounds will take 3.75 to 4.25 hours, 18-20 pounds will take 4.25 to 4.5 hours, and 20-24 pounds will take 4.5 to 5 hours to cook.
To safely cook the thawed turkey, tuck the wing tips under the shoulders of the turkey and place in a roasting pan with ½ cup water.  For safety, stuffing should be cooked separate from the turkey.  A tent of foil can be loosely laid over the turkey for the first 1 to 1.5 hours and removed for browning.  Place the turkey in an oven set no lower than 325 degrees F.
Turkey meat will be safely cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F; however, the meat may still be slightly pink. Some people prefer cooking turkey to a higher temperature (whole turkey to 180°F in the innermost part of the thigh; turkey breasts to 170 degrees F in the thickest part). For quality, let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving.
If you are stumped on the best way to thaw, prepare or cook a turkey, concerned about food safety, you can call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline toll free at 1-888-674-6854 or send an Email to: web page link for Hotline. The hotline will be staffed with food safety specialists on Thanksgiving Day from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central Time to answer your turkey questions. 
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Volunteer Fall Prevention Coaches Needed

Chances are you know someone who has fallen or who is afraid of falling. A Matter of Balance is a proven program designed to help people manage concerns about falls and increase physical activity.  The Area Agency on Aging of North Central Texas and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension is looking for volunteers to help provide this program.
A Matter of Balance coaches help participants become more confident about managing falls by believing that they can increase their strength, find ways to reduce falls, and protect themselves if they do fall. In addition, participants report that they have increased the amount they exercise on a regular basis. 
 Coach teams lead A Matter of Balance classes during 8 two-hour sessions which use group discussion, problem–solving strategies, and gentle physical exercise. Older adults learn positive coping methods to reduce fear of falling and remain active and independent.
 Please join us for our FREE training scheduled for November 30th at Weatherford College Wise County campus, 5180 Hwy 380, Bridgeport, TX from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Space is limited so sign up now.
For more information and to register for the program contact Laura Wolfe of the North Central Texas Area Agency on Aging at (972) 978-1371, or email her at