Dine In:  More Favorite Family Meals

Dine In: More Favorite Family Meals

FCS Ine In Day December 3 Banner

FCS Dine In Day December 3

Is your busy, busy life making it difficult to spend time eating a meal at home with your family?  Research tells us families are healthier in so many ways when they eat at home together.  Maybe these favorite family meals from some of our readers will give you some inspiration.

Italian Night

My mother’s chicken cacciatore. She’s Italian and a great cook. She makes it with boneless chicken breasts, rice, sliced peppers, onions, tomatoes, and of course, garlic. It is so good and probably healthy. But maybe not, since I eat way too much of it. Friends and family come together on “Italian Night” to enjoy this and other Italian specialties. Molto delicioso.   Rick W.

My favorite meal was always when my mom made homemade spaghetti sauce for pasta. Wow, that’s good stuff. When I brought my girlfriend home, it became one of her favorite meals too. Thanks mom!   Alex H.

Father and son set the dinner table

Father and son set the dinner table. Photo Source: Wendy Meredith

Home Away from Home Meal

My favorite family meal was pork chops, broccoli, mashed potatoes, rolls and sweet tea, because my son, (my first born), cooked his first meal in his first home away from home at the age of 21 and invited our family to dinner. He was always the one out of five children who liked to have everyone in the family sit at the dining room table together and enjoy a meal as often as possible. Our lives consisted of football, cheerleading, church events, ballet, gymnastics, soccer, school events, jobs, etc. Our family of seven was a very busy family and always running here and there, but somehow due to the persistency of our son, we managed to have one or two meals a week together as a family. I was a very happy and proud mom when I received the invite to have dinner that night. The food was delicious, but the fellowship during “My Favorite Family Meal” was something I will remember and cherish forever.   Wendy M.

Let Them Eat Cake or Bread

Celebrations were very special in my family. Every year on my birthday, my grandmother would always cook my favorite food and bake my favorite cake (Red Velvet – Yum). When I was young I always thought it was about the food. But it was about so much more; we learned about manners and etiquette, and family coming together to share old traditions and make new ones. Whenever I see a red velvet cake or smell one baking, it brings back happy memories. I’m transformed back to when I was a 10 year old girl.   Dorothy L.

Growing up on a farm in Michigan, I’ve got a lot of good memories involving food! From making butter in a churn, to picking blackberries in the woods for Mom to make pie, to getting ripe tomatoes from the garden for a tasty bacon and tomato sandwich and many more.  I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up knowing exactly where our food comes from!

A favorite and happy memory is Mom making bread on cold days, letting the loaves rise by the heat registers, then baking it in the oven. The whole house smelled like delicious bread. Once it was done, Mom would cut it while it was still warm and give us thick slices with warm, melting butter on it!   Cheryl V.

December 3rd is Dine In Day.  It’s a chance to make a commitment to have a meal at home with family. So, make the decision to eat with your family at home this December 3rd.

FCS Dine In Day circle logo

FCS Dine In Day

 

 

 

Healthful – and Yummy – Holiday Treats!

Healthful – and Yummy – Holiday Treats!

Cranberries cooking

It may seem like the year has barely started, but the holiday season is here! A little bit of planning now can go a long way toward avoiding that, “I blew my diet and need bigger jeans” feeling. Believe it or not, there are holiday treats that are nutritionally guilt-free, as long as you don’t go overboard. As with so many other things, moderation is the key! Below are some classic holiday favorite foods with hidden health benefits:

Sweet Potatoes: It’s no secret that sweet potatoes are good for you – but they may have even more benefits than you think! Sweet potatoes contain a lot of Vitamin A. That’s a great source of alpha and beta carotene that helps keep your eyes, bones and immune system in top shape. Sweet potatoes are also one of the top food sources of potassium, with almost twice as much of the mineral as you find in a banana. When choosing sweet potatoes, look for ones that are firm with tapered ends and a uniform shape and color. Miniature sweet potatoes are fun and pack the same great health benefits.

Cranberries: Bright red cranberries are a little too tart to eat alone but they add a beautiful festive touch to any holiday table. With only 45 calories per cup plus a healthy dose of Vitamin C and fiber, they’re a winner all the way around. Cranberries also have more disease-fighting antioxidants than almost every other fruit and vegetable. Buy cranberries fresh in the fall and winter and use them soon, as they don’t last long. Store them in a tightly sealed bag in your refrigerator to keep them fresh longer.

Nuts: Yes, they’re high in calories – and fat – but nuts are also loaded with vitamins and minerals. Eating a handful of nuts a few times a week may lower your risk of heart disease. Nuts are full of antioxidants, energy and protein. Think of nuts, in moderation, as a Christmas gift for your body!

Cocoa: What better way to begin – or end – the day than a steaming hot cup of chocolate? Knowing the health benefits of cocoa give us even more reason to love it. Remember those healthful antioxidants? Dark chocolate is loaded with them. In fact, if you choose dark chocolate with a high percent of cocoa solids, you may help lower your blood pressure, improve your blood vessel health and control your cholesterol. So, give in to those chocolate cravings – in moderation, of course!

There are lots of ways to make healthier holiday dishes. Check with your local UF/IFAS Extension Office for delicious recipe ideas that won’t break your budget or your waistline.

Peanut Butter Helps Hurricane Victims

Peanut Butter Helps Hurricane Victims

You want to help but don’t know how? Maybe you don’t have much money and you don’t have skills, time, or transportation to get to hurricane Michael victims for clean up or rebuild. One easy, low-cost way to help is peanut butter.

 Yes, peanut butter helps hurricane victims

Peanut butter tastes good. It is safe at room temperature – no need to refrigerate or heat. Great when there is no electricity. And it’s super easy. Spread on bread or nosh on a spoonful.

Nutty for Peanut Butter
Photo Source: Angela Hinkle

“I am so hungry. What are we going to eat?”

These words were repeated throughout affected areas of the Florida panhandle after the Michael disaster ripped through towns. Peanut butter was the answer for many. A great filler upper loaded with important protein.

The Peanut Butter Challenge

During the months of October and November, UF/IFAS Extension offices in the Florida panhandle are collecting peanut butter for the Peanut Butter Challenge. Peanut butter is dropped off at collection sites by gracious donors – like you. Then at the beginning of December, the peanut butter is distributed to hungry families in need at local food pantries. Because so many of our family, neighbors, and friends were affected by hurricane Michael, much of this peanut butter will also be headed to them this year.

Peanut Proud

Peanut Proud and others have already donated 36,000 jars of peanut butter to affected areas. While many jars will be “spread” throughout all Florida panhandle county pantries, much peanut butter will be distributed to hurricane Michael affected areas.

Gift Cards

Looking for other ways to help. Gift cards to Home Depot, Lowes, Ace, Walmart, etc. are greatly appreciated. These cards allow people to get what they need. No guesswork involved.

To find out how and where to donate as well additional recovery information, contact your local Northwest District UF/IFAS Extension office. University of Florida IFAS directory

10,000 Pounds of Peanut Butter

10,000 Pounds of Peanut Butter

 

Peanut Butter Challenge
Photo Source: UF/IFAS Extension Escambia

 

What would you do with 10,000 pounds of Peanut Butter? How about change the lives of hungry families.

What’s It All About?

The annual Peanut Butter Challenge has begun for 2018. Unopened jars of peanut butter are collected throughout the Florida Panhandle. We do this until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving at area Peanut Butter Challenge donation drop-off sites. Local peanut farmers help to match contributions. The peanut butter is then donated to local food pantries and food banks to help struggling families. Last year, the Peanut Butter Challenge collected about 9,000 pounds of peanut butter. This year, the goal is to collect 10,000 pounds of Peanut Butter. Five tons – whew, that’s a lot!

Why Is It Important?

When families are not sure where and when they will get healthy food to eat, they are considered to be food insecure. Many of these families rely on food pantries to supplement their dietary needs. Peanut butter is the most requested food in most pantries. It is loaded with protein and other good-for-you nutrients like fiber and potassium. Peanut butter is shelf stable – no need to heat or keep cold. Most people really like the taste of it. So…basically, a super food.

What is the Easiest Way for Me to Help?

Nutty for Peanut Butter
Photo Source: Angela Hinkle

Though peanut butter is very economical, (usually about $2.50 per pound), look at the sales ads. Almost every week, some place has peanut butter on sale. Better yet, look for the buy one, get one free specials. Keep one jar for yourself and donate a jar. Then take your peanut butter to the closest Peanut Butter Challenge collection site.

Where Can I Contribute or Find Out More?

To find out where to donate unopened jars of peanut butter in your area, contact your local Northwest District UF/IFAS Extension office.

Help UF/IFAS Extension and the Peanut Butter Challenge donate 10,000 pounds of peanut butter to help take a bite out of hunger for local families in need. Oh, and we’ll do the heavy lifting.

For more information on how UF/IFAS Extension faculty are working to provide food access to more people and stem this tide of hunger, read Nick Place on 2018 PBC.

 

A is for Apple

A is for Apple

Bowl of apples
Photo source: bing

October is National Apple Month. “A” is for Apple.  We have all heard this childhood saying as well as other apple idioms.

The Fall season has arrived and along with cooler weather, shorter days, and autumn leaves comes the bounty of Fall………apples.

In Autumn, apples fill farmers market and grocery store bins with seasonal shades of red, green, yellow, and russet.  Popular varieties of apples grown in the United States include Mcintosh, Fuji, Red Delicious, Gala, Crispin, Honeycrisp, Granny Smiths, and Golden Delicious.

Nutrition

A large raw apple contains about 95 calories.  Apples provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  Apples are low in calories and high in antioxidants.

Selection

Each apple variety has its own distinctive flavor and texture.  When purchasing apples choose a variety suitable for your intended use.  Best apples for eating cooking baking  The surface of the apple should be smooth, firm, unbroken, and free from bruises.

Preparation

Apples are delicious eaten raw.  Simply rinse, cut into quarters and remove core from each section and slice.  Use a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife to peel apples for cooking.  To core apples for cooking push an apple corer through center of fruit from top to bottom, pull out core and stem.  Coat peeled or sliced apples with lemon juice to prevent darkening.  A bag of medium sized apples yields about 3 cups diced fruit or 2 ½ cups sliced fruit.

Cooking with Apples

Apples are the most versatile of all fruits.  They are suitable for a variety of cooking techniques and can be used in a variety of recipes.  Apples can be baked, grilled, poached, and even sautéed.  Add diced apples to salads or dried and added to granola cereal.  Sauté to accompany meat dishes and add to pancakes or waffle batter.  For desserts, pair apples with a variety of cheeses.

Storage

Apples ripen faster at room temperature than in the refrigerator.  Store apples in the refrigerator in a plastic bag to help retain moisture.

Celebrate the bounty of Fall with apples at their peak of flavor.

 

Making Veggies More Kid-Friendly

Making Veggies More Kid-Friendly

Allowing kids to help with meal prep can encourage healthy eating. (Photo source: Samantha Kennedy)

Kids and vegetables have an historically love-hate relationship. It is not clear why this came to be, but it is clear that many kids claim to dislike vegetables even when they have not even tried them.

There are many reasons children may not have tasted vegetables. Perhaps they are not provided in the home, either due to a lack of availability, lack of knowledge about preparing them, or because parents do not make the effort to expose their kids to new foods. Or maybe kids are influenced by their peers and by the media they consume, which tell them vegetables are gross.

Whatever the reason, it is important to combat this trend and encourage kids to eat more vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a vital component of healthy eating. Healthy eating, in turn, helps reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other nutrition-related aliments.

Not sure how to start getting kids to eat vegetables? Try a few simple tricks. Cutting vegetables up into bite-sized pieces and storing them in small containers or plastic bags in the refrigerator will help make them more be appealing and accessible to smaller children.

Model healthy eating behavior. Kids are more likely to eat vegetables if they see their parents eating them. If mom and dad are enjoying trying something new, children will feel more confident in trying it as well.

Set a rule that before a child can say they do not like something, they must try it first. However, do not make it punitive. Children need to approach a new vegetable on their own instead of being forced to try it. If they absolutely refuse to try it, that is fine. Offer it to them again another time and keep trying.

Negative reinforcement such as making a child stay at the table until they eat their vegetables can negatively affect a child’s eating habits. On the flip side, rewarding kids with dessert or other treats if they eat their vegetables can also have a negative effect.

Treating vegetables as a trial a child must endure to get to something better is a surefire way to increase a child’s dislike for vegetables in the future. Vegetables should be offered in a relaxed, encouraging environment. It can take 8 to 10 tries before a child is ready to taste something new. Offering vegetables in different forms – mashed potatoes vs. baked, steamed broccoli vs. raw, etc. – is also a good way to help a child try new foods.

Serving too much of something at once can be overwhelming to a child. It is important to provide small, manageable portions of foods to kids, especially when introducing something new. Do not make it mandatory to eat all of something, either. Allow the child to eat what they want and stop when they are finished.

Offering a variety of vegetables at mealtime will provide kids with a choice and increase the chance that they will eat at least one vegetable per meal.  However, avoid serving the same vegetables all the time in order to encourage them to try something new.

A final way to encourage kids to eat more vegetables is to let them get involved in the selection, purchase, and preparation. Allow them to pick a vegetable at the store. Provide them with the tools and ingredients to make their own salads. If possible, let them plant a seasonal vegetable in a container and watch it grow. The more involved kids are with their food, the more positive their eating habits will be.

For more information about getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, please contact Samantha Kennedy, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, at (850) 926-3931.