Nutty for Peanut Butter

Nutty for Peanut Butter

Nutty for Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a versatile food which has soared beyond being jelly’s side kick on bread.  Peanut butter can be used as a snack, as part of a full meal, in baking, and yes, even in cooking.  It’s an economical source of protein and it is a wonderful food to pack on the go because it won’t spoil as quickly as most animal proteins will.

Even though most people think of them as nuts, the peanuts which are ground up to make peanut butter, are part of the legume family.  Peanut butter is packed with heart-protecting mono and polyunsaturated fats – which are the “good”, cholesterol lowering fats.  Also the ratio of saturated fats to unsaturated fats puts peanut butter right up there with olive oil.  Do keep in mind, however, that these fats are also what make peanut butter a high calorie food.  Like other yummy foods, moderation is key so try to limit yourself to about 2 tablespoons – about 180 calories.

Peanut butter is a good source of protein, and essential vitamins and minerals which include Vitamin E, niacin, and magnesium.  On average, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter has about 8 grams of protein which helps contribute toward your daily protein needs and it provides energy while keeping you feeling full.  Those two tablespoons of peanut butter also have about 2 grams of fiber (about 3 grams if you eat the crunchy).  If you eat peanut butter with a fruit or whole grain bread, it can really boost your daily fiber intake.

For tasty ideas, look for peanut butter recipes like:  yogurt peanut butter dip with fruit, Thai noodle dishes with peanut butter, peanut butter granola, and peanut butter smoothies.  Peanut butter is consumed in 90 percent of households in the USA and Americans eat enough peanut butter in a year to make more than 10 billion peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Most of us don’t outgrow our love of peanut butter.  You’re never too old for peanut butter, so go nutty.

For more information about peanut butter, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.

How to Avoid Homework Hassles

Some children dread the thought of doing homework.  They may leave an assignment for the last minute or refuse to do it all together.  Many parents handle this by trying to force their children to do their homework.   However, getting into a power struggle with your child is not effective.  By having clear rules and expectations, you can create a positive situation for both you and your child. 

Help children develop good study habits

Help children develop good study habits

Meaningful homework can help students do better in school, especially as they get into the upper grades.  Homework teaches children responsibility, as well as how to follow directions, manage time, begin and complete a task, work on their own, and practice what they’re learning in class.  However, most children would much rather be playing or doing other things than homework.  Many parents and children struggle over when, where, and how homework will be done.

At times, parents may feel that it would be easier just to do the work for their children.  However, the National Parent and Teacher Association advises parents to let children do homework themselves.  You may need to sit with elementary-school-age children and walk them through the process of how to study, help them organize the materials they need, and make sure they’ve completed all their tasks.  As you do this, you are laying the foundation for good study habits. 

Parents can offer to help check homework, but helping is very different from taking over.  You also can reinforce good habits by helping your child find a regular place to work and a regular time of day to do homework.  Instead of asking if your child has homework every night, always assume that there is homework, reading, or studying of some kind to be done.

Here are some tips on things you can do to help your children with homework:

  • Have a set time for your child to do homework. 
  • Get the whole family involved by setting a regular family quiet time for working. Provide your child with a comfortable and well-lit place where they can do homework, such as a desk or a kitchen table with a chair.  Minimize distractions by turning off the TV and making video games off-limits during quiet time.
  • Make sure your child has pens, pencils, notebook paper, and any other supplies.  Know where to direct your child to get information they may need, such as a school, a website, other children in the class, or a teacher’s help before or after school.
  • Think of yourself as a coach to your children, providing assistance on what to do next if they get stuck, checking over their work when they are finished, or even helping them practice testing themselves on new skills.  Showing interest in their work and encouraging their efforts can be a boost for your children and help them find greater success in school.
  • Avoid constantly nagging or lecturing your child to do homework.  If your child is continuously frustrated by or unable to complete assignments, visit your child’s teacher.  Discuss ideas to work out possible strategies to help your child succeed.

For further information, go to EDIS.IFAS.UFL.EDU.

Sources: FAR1718 Helping Children with Homework, Heidi Liss Radunovich; FCS2203 Parenting During the Elementary School Years, Part 2:  Discipline, Millie Ferrer-Chancy, Ingrid Rivera and Anne M. Fugate.

Type-2 Diabetes: Are YOU at Risk?

With healthy lifestyle changes, many people with pre-diabetes can restore their blood glucose to normal levels.

With healthy lifestyle changes, many people with pre-diabetes can restore their blood glucose to normal levels.

Chances are, most of us have a friend or family member who is diabetic.  Type-2 diabetes develops when the body is unable to use the hormone insulin properly, causing blood glucose to stay high after eating (hyperglycemia).  If left untreated, hyperglycemia can cause serious complications such as heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, kidney disease, nervous system disease and even amputations and blindness.  The American Diabetes Association reports that diabetes is responsible for more deaths in the U.S.  per year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 26 million Americans already have diabetes and another 79 million (35% of our population) have a condition known as pre-diabetes.  Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are not quite high enough to be diabetic, but are definitely at a level to cause concern.  It is reported that 15% to 30% of people with pre-diabetes will likely develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

So, what is behind this diabetes epidemic?  It turns out that the increase in diabetes and pre-diabetes cases mirrors the increased number of overweight and obese Americans.  The CDC reports that 80% to 90% of people with type-2 diabetes are also considered overweight or obese.

The good news is that with healthy lifestyle changes, many people with pre-diabetes can restore their blood glucose to normal levels.  A 3-year diabetes prevention study of over 3,000 subjects, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), demonstrated the power of maintained weight loss in lowering the risk for type-2 diabetes.  Participants that adopted healthy eating habits (like reduction of dietary fat) and increased physical activity (150 minutes minimum equivalent to brisk walking) were able to reduce their body weight by 7%.  This modest, and sustained, weight reduction significantly improved the body’s ability to use insulin and process glucose, lowering the risk of type-2 diabetes.

Often, people with pre-diabetes do not show any symptoms and may not even know there is cause for concern.  The American Diabetes Association recommends that if you are overweight (BMI>25) with one or more of the following risk factors you should be tested by your health care provider:

  • Older than age 45
  • Physically inactive
  • A parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander
  • History of gestational diabetes or had >9 lb. baby
  • High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)
  • HDL cholesterol <35mg/dL or triglycerides >250mg/dL
  • History of polycystic ovary syndrome
  • History of cardiovascular disease

If you are pre-diabetic, making wise lifestyle changes can drastically improve your health and delay or prevent type-2 diabetes.  Remember to talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or exercise patterns.  Consider these tips to improve your weight management:

  • Eat less fat, especially saturated and trans fats (fatty meats, whole milk and dairy products, processed bakery items, margarine, fried foods)
  • Eat more whole grains and beans to increase your fiber
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables (fresh is best, but frozen or canned count too)
  • Reduce processed foods with added sugars and sodium
  • Keep an eye on portions to reduce your volume or calories (and fat!)
  • Eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day instead of eating large meals
  • Stop eating when you feel satisfied
  • Drink water throughout the day!
  • Get up and be active!  Start a walking program slowly, then pick up the pace

If you want to learn more about preventing and managing pre-diabetes, visit

If you don’t know what your Body Mass Index (BMI) is, check out the CDC BMI Calculator

Interested in Healthy Meal Planning and Cooking with Diabetes?  Sign up for a 2-hour workshop offered on the following dates:

October 9th        6:00 pm at the Leon County Extension Office (call 850-606-5200 to register)

October 14th    6:00 pm at the Wakulla County Extension Office (call 850-926-3931 to register)

October 29th    6:00 pm at the Liberty County Extension Office (call 850-643-2229 to register)

Nov. 12th         6:00 pm at the Jefferson County Extension Office (call 850-342-0187 to register)




“Slow” Down When You Get Home – Dinner is Done!

Wouldn’t it be great to have dinner ready tonight when you walk in the door? Can you smell the aroma of the roast, potatoes, carrots, bell pepper, and onion as you open the front door of your home? Slow cookers make having dinner on busy days or after work quick and easy.

There are various types of slow cookers. You can buy slow cookers with multiple crocks. The multiple crocks are great for game day parties to hold chili, cheeses, or dips! Some slow cookers have different heat settings like high, medium, and low and need to be turned off manually. Others have actual temperature settings or timers that shut off or switch to a warming setting automatically.

Use a slow cooker to have dinner ready for your family when you get home.

Use a slow cooker to have dinner ready for your family when you get home.

Some benefits of the slow cooker include:

1. Your kitchen does not get as hot as it does using the oven.

2. The low heat tenderizes less expensive, leaner cuts of meat and reduces shrinkage.

3. You can transport your food in the same crock, thus keeping the heat in the food. When you use the oven, you have to remove the food from the heat source, resulting in much heat loss en route to your destination.

Slow cookers do have some disadvantages as well. Some vitamins and minerals are lost from vegetables due to the long slow cooking process. When foods are cooked quickly at a high temperature, the enzymes are deactivated so there are minimal nutrients lost. So, if you plan on using your slow cooker for vegetables, give them a quick blanch to keep from losing too many nutrients.

Cleanup is easier with the slow cooker, especially if you use the bag inserts available from your local grocer. The slow cooker is easily stored out of the way and is a great way to “fix it and forget it” until it is time to eat. I wish I had something cooking in mine right now!

For more information on the slow cooker:

FCS80001/FY1288: Keeping Food Safe: Preparing and Cooking

FCS80001-Span/FY1292: Manteniendo los alimentos seguros



Is Credit Card Debt Costing You?


Credit card debt is something that hangs over many Americans. According to the Federal Reserve, in April 2013, the average credit card debt equaled $3,364 per U.S. adult. This assumes that EVERY adult has a credit card and that those cards carry debt. Of course, not all adults own a credit card. Young Americans are among those ditching their credit cards.

The only way to reduce credit card debt is to make payments each month and not add to that debt. The main way to reduce this even faster is to pay more than the minimum payment each month.

Save Nearly $4,000 by Paying More than the Minimum Balance

By only paying the minimum monthly balance, you are guaranteed to pay this debt for a longer time and pay more in total cost. For example:

Total Credit Card Debt

Monthly Payment

Years to Pay Off

Total Cost

$3,364 (at 14.96% Interest)

$67.28 (min. payment)

19 Years 5 Months


$3,364 (at 14.96% Interest)

$87.28 (min. payment +$20)

4 Years 4 Months


$3,364 (at 14.96% Interest)

$107.28 (minimum payment +$40)

3 Years 4 Months


$3,364 (at 14.96% Interest)

$167.28  (minimum payment +$100)

1 Year 1 Month


Similar information is available on your monthly credit card statement.  It will identify how long it will take you to pay your debt if you only pay the minimum or if you pay a little extra.  More info on how to read your bill is found at:

You also can use an online calculator to determine costs and payoff information.

Want to avoid the minimum payment trap completely? Follow these tips from financial experts:

  • Know What You Owe – Make a list of all outstanding debt balances with the names of creditors, monthly payments, and APRs (interest rates).
  • Run the Numbers – Use the Minimum Payment Calculator and calculate the cost of making minimum and larger payments on various amounts of debt.
  • Use a “power payment” to pay off your debt.  Visit
  • Read the Numbers – Check your credit card statements about the cost of making minimum payments.
  • Pay Cash – Instead of making new purchases with a credit card and adding them to outstanding balances, save up and pay cash (or use a debit card) to avoid interest charges.
  • Set a Goal – To know how much to save, set a target date and dollar amount and work backwards. For example, $3,000 for a big screen television in a year requires weekly savings of about $58 ($3,000 ÷ 52).

In the example above, finding an extra $100 a month to apply to credit card payments reduces the time it will take you to pay off this debt from over 19 years to just over one year AND saves you nearly $4,000.

Need help finding ways to save? Take the Florida Saves pledge to make a commitment to yourself to save and to receive emails and/or text messages to keep you motivated.

Contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension office to find more ways and resources to help you manage your money.  Be sure to join us for the Women & Money Program Oct. 1, 8, & 15!


Wake Up to a Healthy Start

Fuel your brain with a healthy, balanced breakfast.

Fuel your brain with a healthy, balanced breakfast.

Waking up is hard enough to do, but it is especially difficult for people who are not “morning” people, who would like to avoid that time of day altogether, and who don’t generally want breakfast.  Nevertheless, the sun is still going to rise, people still have to get up, and breakfast still is the most important meal of the day.  Because traditional meals play a significant role in providing daily recommended levels of essential nutrients, nutritionists often cite breakfast as the day’s most important meal and as the foundation of healthy eating habits.

Despite these recommendations, millions of Americans, in the rush to get to work, school, and other activities, often skip breakfast, thinking there is not enough time to prepare and eat a good well-balanced morning meal.  Studies show that eating habits developed during childhood have the potential to last a lifetime, and children who tend to omit breakfast will likely continue this dietary habit well into adulthood.  Studies also have shown that eating breakfast is associated with improved strength and endurance throughout the day and a better attitude toward school or work.

The role of breakfast in helping children perform at peak levels in the classroom was first documented more than 45 years ago at the University of Iowa Medical College.  Researchers found that children who skipped breakfast had trouble concentrating at school and often became inattentive, irritable, restless, and fatigued by late morning—all behaviors counterproductive to learning.  The behaviors were linked to low blood sugar levels which had not been replenished by a morning meal.

Breakfast helps to replenish blood glucose levels, which is important since the brain itself has no reserves of glucose, its main energy source.  Sustained mental activity requires a large turnover of brain glucose and its metabolic components.  After a fast of eight or nine hours, refueling at breakfast will make you feel and perform better during the day.

Here are some quick tips to help you avoid the temptation to be a breakfast skipper:

  • No time?  Build a breakfast around foods that are ready-to-eat or take little preparation time.  For example:  fresh and canned fruits; milk; yogurt; cheese; cottage cheese; ready-to-eat cold cereals; fruit smoothies; and instant breakfast mixes.
  • Take it to go.  Try celery stuffed with a meat or cheese spread or peanut butter; dried fruits; vegetable juices; or yogurt.
  • Perk up cereals.  Top cereals with fruit or stir chopped nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, into cooked cereals.  Try adding dried fruit or granola.
  • Not hungry yet?  Drink juice or a fruit smoothie.  Something is better than nothing!  Have some bread or crackers later in the morning, then drink some milk and eat some cheese, an egg, or some peanut butter.
  • Don’t skip breakfast if you’re on a diet.  There is no evidence that skipping meals will help you lose weight.  In fact, studies show that most people who skip breakfast tend to eat more later in the day.  Some may even unintentionally select more calorie-dense foods.

Balanced breakfast choices can help provide the healthy edge needed for optimal physical and cognitive performance for children as well as adults.  For those who don’t yet eat breakfast, it’s never too late to wake up to a healthy start!

For more breakfast suggestions, check out Breakfast Ideas and Breakfast on the Go.

Reference:  United States Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Information Service