Laurie Osgood, UF/IFAS Extension Gadsden County
Hello, I am Laurie Osgood, the UF/IFAS Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension Agent in Gadsden County. I have worked in Extension for over 8 years, with seven of those years in the Gadsden County office. My FCS program areas include health and wellness and financial capability.
I hold a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and have recently completed my master’s degree in Family, Youth and Community Sciences from the University of Florida.
As an Extension Agent, I enjoy working with families and youth across the state of Florida and in Gadsden County. It is very rewarding to be able to offer health and wellness programs that benefit families in my community. Working as an Extension Agent has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my career.
I have been married to my husband, Gary, for over 25 years and we have three children, which includes a set of twins. All three of my children are currently seeking their college degrees. We have two rescue dogs that are as much work as children.
My hobbies include working in my garden, traveling, and visiting Florida breweries.
Laurie Osgood on a trip to Paris.
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!
Blueberries were once known as star berries because of the pointy flower calyxes on top of the berries. Blueberries have grown in North America for thousands of years. Native Americans dried the berries in the sun and crushed them into a powder to be used as a rub on meats. Whole berries were added to soups, stews, and to other ingredients to make a pudding call sautauthig.
Blueberries from a Central Florida hobbiest farm. UF/IFAS Photo: Sally Lanigan.uthig.
Luscious, sweet blueberries have a nutrition profile. Blueberries are low in fat and a good source of fiber and vitamin C. Blueberries are very high in antioxidants.
Look for fresh blueberries that are firm, dry, plump, smooth skinned, and relatively free from leaves and stems. Color should be deep purple blue to blue-black; reddish berries are not ripe but may be used in cooking.
Blueberries will keep a day or two at room temperature. They will remain fresh in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Cover berries to prevent dehydration. Reddish berries will be sour but will ripen if placed in a container with a few ripe berries and left uncovered at room temperature for a day or two.
Fresh berries should be stored covered in the refrigerator and washed just before using. Use berries within 10 days of picking or purchasing.
Blueberries are easily frozen for later use. Freeze unwashed blueberries in airtight, resealable plastic bags. If thawed, keep refrigerated and use within 3 days.
Next time you are shopping in the produce department, add fresh blueberries to your shopping cart and enjoy the delicious flavor of the berries.
BLUEBERRY PANCAKE STACKS
- Vegetable oil for cooking
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- Dash of nutmeg
In a mixing bowl, stir together the milk, oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to the milk and stir just until mixed (batter should be slightly lumpy). Gently fold in the berries. Spoon the batter onto a griddle or pan greased with vegetable oil and heated to medium-hot (dollops should be about the size of a silver dollar). Let the batter cook until the tops of the pancakes begin to bubble, then flip and cook until done.
Stack and serve immediately with softened margarine and warm syrup.
Makes about eighteen 2 ½” pancakes.
Combine 1 pint of blueberries and 1 cup of maple syrup in a saucepan.
Heat to boiling, then lower the heat and simmer until most of the fruit has burst. Remove from heat and use a fork to smoosh the berries. The syrup will thicken as it cools. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
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!
Stock up on canned fruits, vegetables, meats, and heat-and-eat soups for your hurricane food supply kit. Photo source: UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.
Even during hurricane season. Yes, the Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1st and runs through November 30th every year. August and September are usually the busiest hurricane months in Florida. It is tempting to believe that danger will not be coming our way, however, the Sunshine State has already experienced Alex. Bonnie, Colin, Danielle… are sure to follow.
Planning for hurricane preparation takes time and money, however, planning can save you both time and money. Know, too, that your hurricane planning can accommodate other emergencies.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Build A Kit | Ready.gov suggests having enough provisions for two weeks in your basic emergency kit, whereas other sources state three days. Since Spring 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended people include additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or other viruses and the flu. (And don’t forget sanitation supplies and personal hygiene items. Poor hygiene can help spread disease, too).
A central step in planning for emergencies is to take advantage of what you have on hand and be mindful when adding to it. Taking an inventory of what you have is an important tool in managing personal resources. From your inventory, make a list of what you need to purchase. When shopping for nonperishable hurricane food items and supplies, use your list and stick to it. Adding a few items to each shopping trip can help spread the cost burden of stocking up on emergency supplies.
Being prepared means having your own food, water, and other related supplies (think home, yard, and even car). Now is also a good time to eat what is in your freezer (think power outages – frozen food has a time limit if your power goes out) and take stock of your pantry. It makes economic sense to plan to use what you have (think expiration dates – rotating pantry supplies), supplemented with nutritious, stocked hurricane supplies.
Additionally, one half of people in the United States take medication. Planning in advance for medical needs is as imperative as planning for food and other safety equipment.
Waiting until an announced, named storm hits the radar is often the wrong time to start your emergency preparation. Prices might be higher, and supplies might be harder to find. Plan and prepare now for whatever emergency may come your way. Personally, I went thirty years without needing anything but a flashlight on occasion to being without power for eight days during Hurricane Michael. Others in my area fared far worse.
Whether we want them or not, emergencies happen. Planning for one can save you both time and money.
Pantry Prep: Stock Up for Emergencies (English)
Pantry Prep: Stock Up for Emergencies (Spanish)
Prepare for Hurricane Season by Stocking up on Plenty of Non-Perishable Foods
You play a significant role in loving your heart by developing a healthy lifestyle that will last a lifetime. Do you know a heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifespan? The heart’s never-ending workload is like a love between a mother and her daughter. A mother and daughter will have bumps during their lifespans, such as teenage rebellion, a fight for independence, and the battle to become a woman. The love for your heart can also have bumps during your lifespan, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, unlucky genes, and much more.
As human beings, we all have our favorite go-to food or foods. My mother and I love to eat chips. We need to focus on eating various healthy foods. MyPlate can show how everybody can make food choices for a healthy diet. Each food group provides energy and almost every nutrient we need. No one food group is more important than the other. For good health and proper growth, individuals need to eat various types of food every day. By eating healthy, you love your heart. My mother and I should replace the chips for fruits during the day for a healthy snack.
Exercising is an essential step in loving your heart. When I was growing up, my mother and I would clean the house on Saturday mornings. The fun thing about cleaning was listening to a favorite song while dancing in the living room. Physical activities are a great tool to help you stay active during your lifespan. A person should aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Young children should participate in 60 minutes of physical activity a day. In 2022, love your heart by “KEEP MOVING!” and check out the Let’s Walk Florida program at your local Extension Office.
Atherosclerosis is a condition in which your arteries narrow and harden due to the buildup of fats in the artery wall. There are chemicals found in tobacco smoke that can harm your blood cells. The chemicals can damage the function of your heart and blood vessels. When this happens, you do not love your heart, and you can risk atherosclerosis. I will say, my mother and other family members are tobacco users. Each year, over 1 million Americans quit smoking. You can use many strategies to stop using tobacco, such as going to a behavior support group, breathing exercises, healthy snacks, remembering your smoking triggers, and remembering that you are saving money. Reminder: give your heart a huge hug by stopping using tobacco.
The Love for a Mother through Heart Surgery. Photo source: Gretchen Thornton
Do you know that many types of heart disease are passed down through the “Family Tree?” Heart disease can affect the heart muscle and electrical system and cause high cholesterol levels. There is much to learn about the connection between genes and heart disease within a family. Researchers continue to learn about the outcomes of the connections between the two. Communication is an essential tool to keep your family tree healthy. My mother had a heart attack when she was 60 years old. She went to the hospital for a low oxygen level due to allergies. The doctor noticed that she had a heart attack in her past. She has a pacemaker and cardioverter-defibrillator to help with her heart rhythm now. During this stage of my life, I make sure that I schedule my yearly wellness check doctor’s appointment. Love your “Family Tree” by communicating about your health history because your family grows from the same seed.
You may think it is too early to think about heart health in children. Heart disease can start early in life. A healthy lifestyle can decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. A child that is living a healthy life can listen and participate in school, sleep at night, have healthy bones and muscles, increase self-esteem, and adopt a lifelong habit.
Loving your heart may not be straightforward at times. A healthy lifestyle is a day-to-day process that takes time and hard work. Loving your heart is unique because we all share the same common goal to live a healthy life. In 2022, remember to follow MyPlate.gov and eat healthily. Each day, turn the television off and exercise for at least 30 minutes. Make this year tobacco-free; learn the benefits of quitting by contacting Tobacco Free Florida for more information. Spending time with your family is an excellent time to communicate about family health history and genetics. For more information about heart health, contact your local doctor about how you can become more heart-healthy.
FSHN20-56/FS426: Reducing Your Risk for Heart Disease: The Power of Food (ufl.edu)
Genetics of Congenital Heart Disease | Circulation Research (ahajournals.org)
Tobacco Free Florida | Smoking Cessation Information & Programs