As summer is coming to a close and the kids are going back to school, National Watermelon Day is upon us! We have celebrated all of July as National Watermelon Month, but there is an extra day just for this sweet, juicy treat. This August 3rd, enjoy a slice, cube, ball, or spear of watermelon to celebrate National Watermelon Day!
With the name watermelon, you could assume that the fruit is made up of mostly water. “How much water?” you may ask. 92 percent of the fruit is water! This is a great source of water for individuals who do not like drinking water, like myself. Another benefit is that since the water content is high, it helps individuals feel full. The combination of water and small amounts of fiber in this fruit helps you feel full without all of the calories. Watermelon is also beneficial in terms of digestion. Water helps the digestive tract to continue moving while fiber provides substance for your stool. This combination promotes normal, healthy bowel movements.
Not only is watermelon a great source of water for hydration, but it also has a lot of nutritional benefits. Fewer calories and no fat mean less guilt when eating the delicious fruit. There are approximately 47 calories per cup of watermelon. Watermelon also provides vitamins such as A, B1, B5, B6, and C. It also offers magnesium and potassium, both important factors in your daily intake. Vitamins A and C are critical components of healthy skin, as they assist with the production and repair of skin cells. Skin tends to look dry and flaky when you do not have enough intake of these vitamins. Vitamin C helps create collagen. Collagen keeps hair strong and skin elastic.
Now that you know why watermelon is an excellent fruit to consume, how should you celebrate it on its national day? Eating the watermelon by itself, as is, is a great place to start! If you are feeling adventurous, try making a fruit salad, adding salt or sugar, or throwing it on the grill. Check out one of my favorite recipes below for watermelon ice pops!
Ingredients (Yields 6):
- 1 ½ cups watermelon, seeded and diced
- ½ cup water
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon white sugar
- Step 1: Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth.
- Step 2: Pour mixture into ice pop molds.
- Step 3: Place into freezer and freeze until solid. This takes about 2 hours.
- Step 4: Run water over the ice pop mold for a few seconds to help release the popsicle and enjoy!
July is one of my favorite months of the year. Summer is in full swing, school is out, temperatures are soaring, and we celebrate Independence Day, as well as my birthday! While all those things are great, my favorite part about the month is celebrating National Ice Cream Month all month long! Who wouldn’t love a cold, sweet treat on a hot, summer day?
Did you know that one 1/2 cup serving of regular ice cream is considered a good source of calcium and phosphorous, containing 10% of the recommended daily value? While ice cream can be part of a balanced diet, its high calorie and fat content are something to consider. Ice cream is good in moderation, something I know I struggle with.
Cold, Delicious, and so many flavors! Photo source: Lyndsey B.
One of my favorite things about ice cream is the options are endless. Not only are there numerous flavors to choose from, but there are other options for how it can be made or served. “Add-ins” such as berries, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, and whipped cream can change how the base ice cream tastes. Some of the most popular flavors, such as vanilla, chocolate, cookie dough, strawberry, butter pecan, etc., do not need any add-ins though.
Types of ice cream also can be broken down into different categories:
- Regular ice cream is a frozen food product made from dairy products with at least 10% milk fat.
- Light ice cream contains at least 50% less fat or 33% fewer calories than regular ice cream.
- Low-fat ice cream contains no more than 3 grams of fat per serving.
- Nonfat ice cream contains less that 0.5 gram of fat per serving.
- Frozen custard, also known as French ice cream, contains a minimum of 10% milk fat as well as 1.4% egg yolk solids.
- Sherbets have a milk fat content only between 1-2%.
- Sorbet, also known as water ices, are similar to sherbet, but do not contain dairy.
- Frozen yogurt has a mixture of dairy ingredients such as milk or nonfat milk that has been cultured, as well as other ingredients for sweetening and flavoring.
Enjoy a scoop of ice cream in honor of National Ice Cream Month.
Photo source: UF/IFAS Northwest District
Since the kids are home from school, I am always looking for activities for them. Check out the recipe and instructions below for how to make your own ice cream in a bag at home!
- 3 Zip-top bags: 2 quart-size and 1 gallon-size
- ¼ c. cream
- ¼ c. milk
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4-5 c. ice
- 1/3 c. salt (rock salt or large granules works the best)
- Toppings of your choice (sprinkles, chocolate syrup, fruits, whipped cream, etc.)
A cool and refreshing sweet treat
Photo Source: Angela Hinkle
- Bag it! In a quart Zip-top bag, combine cream, milk, sugar and vanilla. Push out excess air and seal. (Double bag it to avoid spillage)
- Ice it! Add the ice and salt into the gallon zip-top bag. Then place the smaller, sealed bag into the ice.
- Shake it! Seal the bag and shake vigorously, 7 to 10 minutes. Do this until the ice cream has hardened. The more you shake, the quicker it hardens.
- Remove it! Remove the smaller bag from the big bag. Throw the big bag away.
- Top it! Either eat the ice cream out of the bag or spoon it into a bowl. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Being more active is one of the top New Year’s Resolutions.
Photo credit: UF/IFAS Photo: Sally Lanigan.
Well, it’s that time of year again. January 1st has finally rolled around and I still have not completed last year’s New Year’s Resolution. If you’re like me, your resolution is to lose weight in 2022. Maybe you have chosen to quit smoking, exercise more, or try to be more positive. Maybe these resolutions sound familiar to you because they were last year’s resolutions, too!
You don’t have a New Year’s Resolution yet? Below is a list of some of the most common New Year’s Resolutions that could help you spark an idea!
Exercising with others can help you stay on track to reach your wellness goals.
Photo credit: UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham.
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Learn a new skill or hobby
- Save more money
- Quit the use of tobacco
- Quit the use of alcohol
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Travel more
- Read more
So, how do you ensure that you are going to stick to your resolution? Below are a few New Year’s Resolution tips to help us create long-lasting change:
- Dream big! The bigger, the better. Do you want to learn to run a marathon? Do you want to fit back into those jeans you wore in high school? Being ambitious will help inspire others around you to cheer you on toward those goals.
- Break that big dream down into smaller pieces. Running 26 miles seems daunting, but when you start with just walking 1 mile, you will soon gain the confidence to push for more. Choosing to reach for healthier snacks, such as carrots or celery instead of potato chips, is a small change that can affect your diet. You do not have to deprive yourself of foods you enjoy to lose weight. You just have to focus on portion control. Small steps will move you forward to your ultimate goal.
- Commit yourself to your goals! Write them down, post your goals on social media, or verbally promise to others that you are going to do it. Hold yourself accountable to what you are trying to do. Sometimes, making a public announcement will encourage others to join you on your journey. They can push you to be the best version of yourself, while also holding you accountable.
- Give yourself a pat on the back! “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Well, neither will you accomplish your end goal in one day. Typically, our new year’s resolutions take time, sometimes a very long time. Encourage yourself to keep going by acknowledging what you do accomplish!
- Learn from your past. I am not perfect, you are not perfect, no one is perfect! We all stumble at times, but it is how we recover that will set us up for success or failure. If you “fall off the healthy-eating train” one evening, don’t beat yourself up or give up. Tomorrow is a new day, and you can resolve to recover from your mistakes to get back on track.
- Support! I have mentioned inspiring others already, but you need support, too. Accept help from those who care about you to help you achieve your goals. Consider joining a support group, such as a workout class at the gym or a group of co-workers to quit smoking. These individuals share your struggles and want to see you succeed, which makes the challenge less intimidating!
- The 3 R’s: Reflect, Replace, and Reinforce. The 3 R’s can help you make a long-term change. Reflect on your current situation, i.e. eating habits. Replace those unhealthy habits with healthier ones. Reinforce these changes in your daily life.
Use the Nutrition Facts label to make healthy food choices.
Photo credit: UF/IFAS.
According to the American Psychological Association, “By making your resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that you will keep them throughout the year, incorporating healthy behavior into your every day life.” The dreaded New Year’s Resolution does not have to seem unattainable. If you plan to make a New Year’s Resolution this year, limit the number of resolutions you choose so that you can focus on them. By creating new habits and making small changes, you can do anything you put your mind to!
Photo Source: Auburn University IHSA Equestrian Team
Claire Reach is the UF/IFAS 4-H & Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Agent in Calhoun County, Florida. For 4-H, she specializes in animal handling, animal safety, and animal sciences. For FCS, she mainly specializes in food safety and healthy living, but has found a new opportunity to work with First Time Homebuyers and the State Housing Initiative Partnership Program (SHIP) in the county.
Claire grew up in Alabama, splitting her time between Birmingham and her family’s farm, L & L Angus Farm, in Auburn. The family farm is Claire’s driving force behind the passion that she has for agriculture, which is a large part of the work she is doing in Extension.
These pictures are of my family on the farm in Auburn, AL. Photo Source: Dave Davis.
Peep some of the cows in the background. Photo Source: Elise Reach.
With a family background in Ag, she decided to study Animal Science-Production Management at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. While completing her undergraduate degree, Claire competed for Auburn University’s Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, worked at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in a research barn, and continued to work on the family farm. She graduated in May of 2019 with her Bachelor of Science and a minor in Agricultural Business.
Several home cooking/canning classes offered in 2021. Strawberry jam, chicken, pepper jelly, salsa, and mozzarella cheese have been made! Photo Source: Claire Reach UF/IFAS.
The Calhoun County 4-H Horse Club recently started up! (The 2 horses on the right side of the image also belong to me.) Photo Source: Dave Davis.
Shortly after graduation, she moved to Florida to work for Deseret Cattle and Timber as a Heavy Machinery Operator, but soon realized that her passion was Extension. The position in Calhoun County became available and she jumped at the opportunity to apply for it. Having just started in May 2021, Claire has not been with UF/IFAS Extension long, but she cannot wait to see what the future holds for her county. Claire says that she aspires for the Calhoun County FCS Program to be the area’s leading program for adults in practical home practices, whether that be home canning or healthy eating, and healthy living. All the programs that she offers, whether it be 4-H or FCS, follow the same motto: ‘learn by doing’. This drives the experience of each program, allowing participants to fully understand a concept or ask questions when they do not.
These are the “goodest” dogs of all time! Evie (Chocolate Lab), Diesel (Black and White Mutt), and Hank (Bassett Hound-laying down) Peep the chickens, turkeys, cat, and horses in the back ground! Photo Source: Claire Reach UF/IFAS.
This is Chick! For a mare, she’s pretty special. We have a great bond and she trusts me to do just about anything with her (i.e. shoot a gun off of, rope cattle, stand on, lay on, or let little kids ride) Photo Source: Tanner Mayo.
When Claire is not at work, she says there is always more work to be done at home. Living on a functioning livestock operation, she has several animals, including: chickens (about 50 at the moment), 5 guineas, 4 turkeys, 2 cats, 4 dogs, and 3 horses. She hopes to be able to add cattle to the ever-growing “funny farm” soon! It isn’t always about work, though. In her spare time, Claire enjoys spending time with family, riding her horses, long walks with the dogs, dirt road riding, and paddle boarding at the beach!
How to Stay Hydrated
Here in the Panhandle of Florida, we are starting to get into the heat of the summer. With temperatures soaring, your sweat is going to start pouring. It is extremely important to replace the fluids lost through sweating. In this article we will cover what hydrated versus dehydrated means, why it is important, and tips on how to stay hydrated in the Florida heat.
What is Hydration, and Why Does it Matter?
Hydration is the process of introducing our body to additional fluid (i.e. water). Dehydration is when you have used or lost more fluid than you are taking in. 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) Without staying hydrated, we can seriously harm ourselves. Whether you are considered a youth or an adult, you can still lose approximately 40 percent (2) of your body’s water during hard work or exercise.
How to Stay Hydrated
Drink lots of fluids: Do NOT wait till you feel thirsty to drink. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already slightly dehydrated. It is important to drink fluids, preferably water, throughout the day. During the summer, while it is hot, it should be a top priority to replenish lost fluids in our body. A good way to start the day is by drinking a glass of water when you wake up and get your body going. Some fluids are better for us than others. When replenishing fluids lost through sweating, make sure that it is mainly from water. Some of the fluids can also be from flavored water, tea, or coffee. Try not to consume as many sugar-sweetened beverages, as many of them act as a diuretic. The sugar found in these drinks tends to draw the water out of your cells, making you feel thirsty a short time after drinking it. The sugar drawing the water out of cells will also make you need to urinate more quickly, therefore losing even more fluid. Something “punny” – No matter how much soda I drink, I’m still so thirsty… I must be “soda-hydrated!”
Photo Source: UF/IFAS
Eat Fuel Foods: Make sure you are fueling your body with the appropriate foods. Certain fruits and vegetables contain a large amount of water. Examples of water-rich fruits are: watermelon (it’s in the name!), strawberries, peaches, and pineapples. Some examples of vegetables with a high water content are: Cucumbers, leafy green (i.e. lettuce), celery, and tomatoes. Foods that are highly processed tend to be dehydrated and have lots of sugar or salt, which dehydrates you more.
Look at the Weather: Stay inside when it gets too hot outside and when it is extremely humid. The sun is at its peak between 10 am and 2 pm every day, meaning that time is when it will be hottest outside. Plan necessary outdoor activities for the early morning or later in the evening. Also, the higher the humidity, the more you are going to sweat.
How to Dress: Make sure that you dress for the weather, appropriately. Loose fitting clothing allows your skin to breathe, keeping your body cooler. Lighter shades do not absorb the heat like dark colors. Wear a wide brimmed hat to keep your head cool. Also, use plenty of sunscreen. Getting sunburned is not just uncomfortable, it can also increase your skins’ temperature, making it hard to stay cool.
Signs of Dehydration: Be aware of the signs of dehydration. As stated above, do not wait for the signs of dehydration to begin drinking fluids. Some of the signs of dehydration include but are not limited to: dark or smelly urine, vomiting, bad breath, dry mouth, irritability, confusion, and fatigue. If you are dehydrated or have lost a lot of fluid through sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea please seek medical attention.
Water: Drink Up!
Photo Source: Ginny Hinton
Some Tips for Staying Hydrated
I have a hard time getting myself to drink plenty of fluids, so below are a few tips that I try to follow to keep myself properly hydrated.
- Keep a bottle or glass of water by your bed. While you are sleeping, your body is not receiving any fluids, so it is becoming slightly dehydrated. Having water close by the bed means you do not have to get up and disrupt your sleep.
- Purchase a reusable water bottle. If you have a reusable glass or metal water bottle, you can keep it with you all the time. If you have easy access to water, you are more likely to drink it.
- Flavor your water. Plain water can become boring if you drink it all the time. Flavor your water with some fresh fruit or a flavoring packet.
- Try to drink at least 8 glasses of “good” fluids every day. Water is extremely good for you, but you can also consume clear broth, tea, coffee, or sports drinks. This will help prevent water from becoming boring. Just make sure that you limit the intake of caffeine and alcohol.
- Check the color of your urine. Believe it or not, this can be a good indicator as to whether you are hydrated or not. The paler, or clearer, your urine is, the more hydrated you are. If the urine you pass is darker, yellow or even orange, you are more than likely dehydrated.
- Download an app. There are apps on our phones for everything now-a-days. There are apps that can send you notifications to drink more water. Some of these apps are also capable of recording how much you drink.
Staying hydrated is extremely important, especially now that we are facing the “dog-days” of summer. Drink lots of fluids, but do not wait till you feel thirsty. The more that you sweat, the more fluids you need to take in.