For the second year, Escambia County takes the top spots… across all three age divisions! The Intermediate and Senior teams will be competing in the State Food Challenge in Tampa February 17th!
The Florida 4-H Food Challenge Competition provides an opportunity for youth to gain food safety and preparation knowledge and skills using a competition to allow for the display of what they learned. Additionally, these youth must champion teamwork, use a mystery item to create a dish for a specific category (main dish, side dish, appetizer, or healthy dessert), purchase complementing food products for their recipe from the competition pantry on a limited budget, and create the dish for judging. To cap it off, teams must provide an oral presentation to the judges summing up all their efforts and highlighting their culinary creation. This presentation ideally includes how they implemented food safety, decided upon their recipe, recipe preparation, how it fits into MyPlate, nutritional content and possible healthier substitutions. All dishes are required to be a minimum of two servings and senior teams also provide a cost per serving. Judges may quiz youth regarding their presentation and dish after the team presentation.
This year, the Northwest District Food Challenge competition was the largest in the state hosting 10 teams. Once again, Escambia County took the top spot in all three age divisions with the intermediate and senior teams advancing to the state competition at the Florida State Fair in Tampa in February.
The life skills attained with the Food Challenge program will serve these youth for the rest of their lives. Harvard Health notes when you cook and prepare meals at home, they are overall more nutrient dense, use healthier preparation practices and are most cost effective. If you are interested in this program, contact your local 4-H Office.
Scroll below to see all the teams during their presentations. Senior teams were presented with the mystery item of avocado and category of side dish. Intermediate teams were assigned chickpeas and appetizer. Junior teams were assigned fire roasted tomatoes and main dish.
As we enjoyed a beautiful Christmas day in the panhandle, we need to start to brace for some colder weather as we welcome the new year. Here are a few ideas on how to protect your animals in the colder weather. During this upcoming cold snap, your “critters” will rely on you to survive it. As you think about how to best protect your outside pets and livestock, remember the three W’s. (more…)
A variety of yummy treats in jars to give as gifts for the holidays.
The Holidays hold some of my fondest memories! Our family would often make special presents for friends and family members. We made things like cookies, candies, breads, and soups that could be shared with others. This can be a fun tradition for your family or 4-H Group to create together!
These gifts usually are not super expensive but can let everyone know you are thinking about them. A lot of times we would make a treat and deliver it along with a container of pre-made mix they could use later to make another serving. That way they know what they are getting and are more likely to make another batch. If this sounds like a fun tradition you may want to incorporate it but remember to be safe while making these special treats. You don’t want to prepare these delights and cause someone to have an allergic reaction or become sick from eating them.
If you like crafting you can decorate bags, jars, spoons, clean ornaments, mugs etc. A bow, ribbon, piece of fabric, dried flowers, sprigs of fresh flowers, holly or pine can make beautiful packages. Remember a little decoration can go a long way and make your gift giving more economical and festive.
Some of our Extension Colleagues from Kentucky KY1 and KY2, Maine, North Dakota and Iowa have some great recipes to share for gifts in a jar, on a spoon or in a mug. Many of these already have premade tags you can download and attach to the item. It also has the individual recipes you can follow and use to make your own special gifts. If you want to make a chocolate cocoa bomb, Maine had the cocoa mix recipe you can use with your molded chocolate! These are definitely yummy treats your friends and family will enjoy!
4-H offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities to fit your interests, skills, and schedule. For more information about Volunteering with 4-H, or to sign up to help youth develop their life skills, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit Florida 4-H Website
Finally, Fall is in the air! It seems like it takes forever for summer to leave Florida. What better way to kick off the Fall season than by bobbing for or picking a deep red, bright green, or yellow apple? Currently, there are over 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States, and 7,500 varieties grown throughout the world. Did you know that apples are also grown in all 50 states? That is a lot of apples to celebrate throughout the month of October and on National Apple Day, October 21!
Have you ever heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? This was something that I was told throughout my childhood. I did not believe that an apple a day would keep me healthy and away from the doctor’s office. Now I understand that the saying is a tribute to the apples nutritional value and its health benefits. Per the USDA, an apple is an excellent source, for your daily nutrition, of fiber and vitamin C!
Apples are a great fruit to add to our diet! With the hundreds of varieties available, there is an apple to suit almost anyone’s taste. Apples can be sweet, tart, crisp, crunchy, soft, or mushy, however you like them. To determine what apples you like best, try hosting an apple tasting. Purchase different types of apples, cut them up into slices or silly shapes, and serve them fresh. If you are feeling adventurous, try smothering your apple slice in peanut butter, hazelnut spread, or in a yogurt dip. The flavor combinations are endless.
Maybe you or your children do not care for the taste of apples. That’s ok! There are several activities you can still participate in to celebrate National Apple Month and Day. I have compiled a short list of activities to give a try.
Roadside market produce. Photo taken 12-12-22.
Apple bowling. All you will need for this activity is 6 bottles, an apple, a starting line, and a way to keep score.
- Apple towers. See how many apples you can balance on top of one another. The tower with the most apples wins!
- Apple Puzzle. This will take a parent with “expert” knife cutting skills to cut the apple into several pieces. Take them apart and try to put it back together.
- Apple Painting. Cut your apple in half or different shapes, dip into your paint, and you’ll have a masterpiece on your hands in no time.
- Apple Rotting. For this experiment, you will need an apple, four drinking glasses, water, oil, and vinegar. Quarter your apple and place into the cups. Fill three of the cups with water, oil, or vinegar separately. The remaining glass will have just air. Make a hypothesis on which apple slice will decompose the quickest and which will last the longest.
Click to access fiber-digestion-health.pdf
40 Easy Apple Activities for Kids to Experiment, Create & Learn
Now that school is back in full swing for our kids, it can be hard to make sure they are eating nutritious foods at each meal. I know that I fall short when I make meal and snack choices, imagine how difficult it is for a kid. Follow along below to learn more about why it is important to make healthy choices, as well as how to teach youth to make healthy breakfasts and afterschool snack choices!
Strawberries, blueberries, cereal grains, and a banana. Fragaria, fruits, foods, red, sweets, healthy eating. UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.
Why should I make healthy choices?
That is a great question! As a busy mom of two, I am always trying to balance work, school, family, and our social calendar. Healthy eating is essential for everyone. Your eating habits can contribute to physical movement, sleep, health, energy levels, and education. I can tell a large, postivie difference in my overall attitude, energy levels, and sleep when I am making better choices. Have you ever heard the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? After a long night’s sleep, we have to break our fast from food, which in turn boosts our energy levels. For our children, it has been determined by the CDC that “Healthy students are better learners. Research shows that eating habits and healthy behaviors are connected to academic achievement. Student participation in the School Breakfast Program is associated with better grades and standardized test scores, reduced absences, and improved memory” (3). By starting off the day with a good breakfast, youth perform better in school. If a healthy breakfast can make a big difference, then healthy food options at other meals or snacks should make a huge impact.
Keywords: folic acid rich foods, food, healthy, metabolism. (UF/IFAS photo by: Josh Wickham)
When you say healthy choices, what does that mean?
This does not mean that you must diet every single day. This does not mean that you cannot have the cookies or ice cream. Busy people don’t have a lot of time to prepare and eat healthy meals. It can be helpful to have a quick list of ideas to maintain healthy eating. It is important for you to balance your meals. Consider choosing at least eating 3 of the following serving sizes every day: dairy, fruit, grains, healthy fats, proteins, or vegetables. It is also important to cut down on foods that are high in fat or added sugar. Foods in moderation are okay, but try to not overindulge on the pizza, sodas, or desserts. On top of eating from different food groups, cutting down on fats or sugars, remember to drink lots of water.
Case of bottled water. Photo taken 08-06-20.
Your body is unable to continue functioning properly without fluids. Staying hydrated may seem like a difficult task, but it is extremely important for us to stay hydrated for optimal health and performance throughout the day. “Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood.” (1) staying hydrated, we can seriously harm ourselves. Whether you are considered youth or an adult, you can still lose approximately 40 percent (2) of your body’s water during hard work or exercise.
How do I help my youth make better food choices?
4H youth participating in a cooking workshop at 4H University. Photo taken 07-26-22.
The earlier that we introduce wholesome, nutritious choices into our youth’s diet, the easier it is for them to make healthy choices. Many of our habits start in the home and you are the prime role model. I have found that if I show that I am willing to try a food, my child will also be willing to try it. Whereas, if I turn my nose up at a food, my child tends to think that they will also not enjoy that food.
Kids who enjoy breakfast every day have better memories, more stable moods, higher energy, and score higher on tests. Breakfast does not have to be a difficult meal to make healthy. Eating a breakfast high in quality protein—from enriched cereal, yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, meat, or fish— is a great place to start.
Some high protein breakfast ideas:
- Boil eggs at the beginning of the week and offer them with a low-sugar, high-protein cereal, and an apple to go.
- Make breakfast burritos filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, chicken, or beef on a Sunday and freeze them.
- An egg sandwich, a cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit, and peanut butter on wholegrain toast can all be eaten on the way to school.
If I keep junk food in the house, I tend to eat it. I always make a point to keep healthy snack options in the house available, rather than boxes of junk food. Healthy snack options at home include fruits, vegetables, and healthier beverages. Soda is high in sugar, so to help cut the sugar, I keep water, milk, and pure fruit juice in the fridge. It is easy for me to make those choices since I am the adult that goes grocery shopping. Try including your child when making snacks to let them make good choices too!
Ideas for healthier alternatives:
- Instead of French fries, try baked fries from the oven and lightly salted.
- Instead of ice cream, try Greek yogurt, sorbet, or a fruit smoothie.
- Instead of fried chicken, try baked or grilled chicken.
- Instead of doughnuts or pastries, try bagels or English muffins.
- Instead of homemade cookies, try graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or fruit and fruit dip.
- Instead of potato chips, try baked vegetables chips or nuts.
- Craving something crunchy? Try carrots or celery.
- Craving something sweet? Try vanilla Greek yogurt with some fresh fruit.
- Craving something salty? Try popcorn or edamame.
First meeting is Sept 26th at 5:30 EST
I am so thrilled to let you know about a new endeavor with Florida 4-H. We are trying a virtual Food Challenge cooking club this year. This is so exciting for me because some of my fondest memories are cooking with my grandmother and Mom. I got to learn how to prepare foods and be creative as I was growing up pulling on their apron strings. I also enjoyed teaching and sharing these skills with my own children. What makes this even better is now I get to share and learn with all of you who join our program.
Paula and Madelyn Cooking together
By joining the new Virtual 4-H Food Challenge Club, you will embark on a fun, yet challenging, food-focused adventure right from the comfort of your kitchen! The club adventure will provide a fun atmosphere for you and your children to have a family time experience building lasting memories together. With the help from Florida 4-H Youth Development Faculty, you will get to unleash your culinary creativity and try delicious recipes while learning kitchen skills from safety, nutrition, and other food related life skills. Families will learn about competitive events related to foods like the Florida Food Challenge Competition. Families will also have the opportunity to make friends with fellow 4-H members across the state.
The virtual club is open to youth members ages 8-18 and will meet once a month starting in September. The club will meet via ZOOM on the following Tuesdays: September 26th, October 24th, November 28th, December 19th, and January 23rd from 5:30 – 6:30 PM ET. We request that adult supervision is present with the youth during the meeting and home practice sessions. The participants will be asked to gather a list of supplies for each monthly meeting as we focus on a new skill for each meeting.
Paula’s family working with herbs to prepare a dish.
During this course we will help families enjoy preparing food, provide you with opportunities to problem solve together and work as a family team as practice preparation for the Florida 4-H Food Challenge! If you join us, your family will learn how to prepare and create yummy dishes with a predetermined set of ingredients. By the end of the program, your family should have some new recipes for your cooking toolbox, learned essential cooking skills and created wonderful memories from your time together. Do not miss this flavorful opportunity – sign up now via Florida 4-H Online and get cooking with 4-H! If you are not a member of a current 4-H Club there is a $20 membership fee associated with this club. If you are unable to join our virtual club, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office to see if there is an active Food Challenge group that you can join. If not, work with your 4-H or FCS Agent(s) to identify two caring adults who could fill this role.
Enroll, Grab your ingredients, and get ready to join us via Zoom on September 26th@ 5:30 EST