Family

Holiday Eating Survival Guide

a plate of chocolate covered pretzels with festive sprinkles on them
Photo: Air Force Academy

Choose:

  • Lower calorie appetizers- vegetables, or fruit
  • Avoid lots of cheese, and fried foods
  • Smaller plates and tall skinny glasses

Know your limits:

  • Eat before you go to a party or out holiday shopping
  • Make a healthy food for the party
  • Have a plan for healthy eating… 5 small appetizers and 2 drinks
  • 2 mixed drinks can have almost 500 calories and depending on the appetizers, it can run as high as 230 calories per appetizer
  • Indulge in a holiday treat closer to bedtime, you will tend to eat less than if you had it during the day
  • Be mindful of eating – slow down and pay attention
  • Carry hard candy mints to change the flavor of your palate or brush your teeth to signal yourself to stop eating

Start a new tradition:

  • Instead of giving cookies or chocolate try making soup mixes or salsa as gifts
  • Make a non-food craft as a holiday activity
  • Try walking, ice skating or sledding to enjoy the season
  • Try reducing fat and sugar in your holiday baking by substituting with applesauce

Article by Heather Pease, Extension educator, UConn EFNEP

UConn 4-H Military Partnership Hosts Barnyard Boogie

little boy holds rabbit

The UConn 4-H Military Partnership Project joined forces with the Subase Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), Subase New London School Liaison Officer, University of Rhode Island 4-H, CT and RI National Guard CYP Coordinators, and New London County 4-H clubs for a “Barnyard Boogie” family sensory afternoon. Hosted by Horses Healing Humans, a partnering agency with VETSCT.ORG (Veteran Equine Therapeutic Services), local businesses, non-profits and Mental Health Professionals collaborated to make possible this free event for military-connected EFMP kids to meet kid-friendly barnyard ponies, goats, chickens, rabbits, sheep, and dogs. Over forty youth connected to the 4-H animals, many meeting a farm animal for the first time. Four 4-H clubs attended with animals in tow. This event will become an annual experience for our military families. Proud moment of the day involved one school-age boy, who, after much encouragement from his mom, tentatively reached out one finger to touch Trinket the sheep’s fleece. An expression of pure joy flooded his face, and he threw both arms over Trinket and buried his face in her fleece.

family meets the animals little girl holding a rabbit

Article by Pam Gray, New London County 4-H

Spend Family Time Outdoors Exploring Nature

person walking on a bridge with colorful fall leaves around them
As the holiday season quickly approaches, time with family and friends is important to many of us. In honor of this past National Take a Hike Day (it was November 17th), try getting in your quality time with some fresh air this weekend! Take advantage of a local trail or path to get the blood flowing after a big meal. Your friends and family with thank you for burning off the extra calories!
 
This message is brought to you by the UConn Extension PATHS team – People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability. We are an interdisciplinary team of University of Connecticut extension educators, faculty, and staff committed to understanding and promoting the benefits of trails and natural resources for health, community & economic development and implementing a social ecological approach to health education.

Dress your Table with Connecticut Grown this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving meal featuring Connecticut Grown foodsPreparations are underway in many homes for the Thanksgiving holiday. Governor Ned Lamont and Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt would like to recognize the many hands that play a role in putting food on your table, including the more than 5,500 farm families in Connecticut.

“Connecticut farmers are an essential segment of our state’s economy—but also a critical component to the wonderful food that many of us gather around each Thanksgiving,” Governor Lamont said. “That is why, when preparing for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, consider using Connecticut Grown products–from delicious turkey to incredible deserts and other beverages, Connecticut farmers provide families with affordable and nutritious food options. Make this year a true Connecticut Thanksgiving with Connecticut Grown.”

According to the National Turkey Federation, 46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving. Now is the time to place your order for a Connecticut Grown turkey. More than a dozen Connecticut turkey producers can be found at www.ctgrown.gov offering fresh or frozen, heritage or grass-fed, pastured raised birds. Nearly all of the ingredients for your appetizers, sides, beverages, and desserts can be found by stopping by a holiday farmers’ market, farm stand, farm winery, brewery, or your local grocery store that features products from neighboring farms.

“From a Connecticut Grown turkey to potatoes, winter squash, Brussel sprouts, root vegetables, cranberries, greens, cheese, milk, beer and wine, we can, and do, produce it here,” says Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “Farmers are the backbone of our nation and we are fortunate to have a diverse array of agriculture in Connecticut creating a bountiful harvest.”

If you are looking for ways to prepare your Connecticut Grown food, there are hundreds of recipes on our Pinterest board for you to try. We have you covered with traditional dishes, modern twists on a long-time favorites, and ideas for using up leftovers. Find those recipes, and more, by clicking here: https://www.pinterest.com/GrowCTAg/boards/

As you sit down with family and friends to celebrate all that you are thankful for, remember to thank a farmer.

4-H Program Teaches Finances to Military Youth

Reading Makes Sense Youth on the USS Constitution in Boston
Photo: Pamela Gray

A group of military affiliated youth recently wrapped up a six-week session of lessons about saving, spending, earning, and the value of a dollar, and their time. Following the Reading Makes Cents 4-H Afterschool Curriculum Guide, participants were able to inspect the hidden secrets of a dollar, learn about saving and spending, needs and wants, and budgeting and sharing (donating to those in need).

Each meeting was started with reading aloud a picture centered on the lessons for the day. The kids had a great time examining needs and wants through a fun experiential game where they decide what is actually necessary to spend money on. They ‘earned’ a week of minimum wage, and then were able to ‘shop’ some catalogs with prices listed – their money was more carefully spent when they considered the time it had taken them to earn it! They brainstormed options available for them to earn money (yard sale of their old toys, lemonade stands, chores for people), as well as ways they can give back to the community with their time instead of giving money.

The stories The Hard Times Jar and If You Made a Million were the clear favorites. A visit from a Navy Federal Credit Union representative helped them explore credit and investments through age-appropriate games and rounded out the experience by providing families with information on the options available through the bank for military affiliated youth. To round out the experience with some real living history, the participants visited Boston, visiting the USS Constitution (the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy) and the Paul Revere house, ‘paying’ for their trip with tokens earned at the classes for attendance and good behavior. Overall, the experience will hopefully produce some great financially wise futures!

Article and photo: Pamela Gray

Growing Food with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and UConn Extension have been collaborating thanks to a U.S.D.A. Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program to enhance agricultural production, food security, and health of tribal community members.

UConn Extension Growing Food With the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation

#AskUConnExtension #UConnImpact

CAHNR Strategic Visioning Process

food, health and sustainability are the three program areas of UConn CAHNR

The UConn College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources is engaged in a strategic visioning process.  You also may have received the invitation below from Dean Chaubey.  As one who knows about the College, we would love to have your input into the strategic direction the College will take over the next 5-10 years. Listening Sessions are scheduled in different parts of the state during the week of November 18. Please read some more about the process and information about how to attend. Here is the link for more information and this is the link to sign up.

Dear Colleague,

We need your assistance. The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) is undertaking a strategic visioning process that we believe will ensure that CAHNR will continue to be successful for many years.  While maintaining its roots at the core of the state’s land grant institution, the college has grown to include a diverse set of academic disciplines.  The unique combination of disciplines within CAHNR provides opportunities for innovation that can help address today’s emerging issues.

Our goal, with your input, will be to identify key knowledge areas that enable the college to have the greatest potential success for the next decade.   The project will allow us to have a dialogue on the future implications of trends and issues affecting our society, state, industries and communities, and to reflect on the state of the college and then come to consensus on focus areas of teaching, research, and extension. Ultimately, the project will drive our work to be as successful in 2030 as we are today.

The process will involve capturing input from internal and external stakeholders, gathering and evaluating data/feedback, and creating a vision for the future.  This will be a data and stakeholder driven effort because we believe you know most about what is needed from CAHNR to impact important issues within and beyond the state.  We created a process that we believe will produce a dynamic, forward-thinking, and focused description of a future that will position CAHNR to be among the most preeminent institutions of its kind in the nation.

To successfully achieve our goal, CAHNR leadership has identified a core team of individuals to spearhead this effort. These individuals bring their knowledge, experience, vision, and commitment to this endeavor while reaching out to learn as much as they can from others.  The strategic visioning team is co-chaired by Ashley Helton (Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment) and Justin Nash (Professor and Head, Department of Allied Health Sciences) and includes a cross-section of units in the college. The strategic visioning team is spending the next several months listening to stakeholders of the college, studying peer institutions, and consulting with funding agencies. As this will require time, energy, and commitment, our goal is to listen and learn from as many stakeholders as possible while maximizing the use of everyone’s time.

As part of the information gathering process, we will be reaching out to you and other individuals to ask you a brief set of questions.  As one of our leadership team members reaches out to you in the next few weeks, I sincerely hope that you will l be available to provide your input. We value and appreciate you volunteering your time to help us envision a future that will make CAHNR a regional and national leader in our mission areas. A brief fact sheet about the college is attached.  If you have any questions, please feel free to reach me (email: Indrajeet.chaubey@uconn.edu) or Committee Co-Chairs (ashley.helton@uconn.edu or justin.nash@uconn.edu).  Thank you again for your time and help.

Best,

Indrajeet Chaubey

Dean, UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources                          

Expiration, Use-By and Sell-By dates: What do they really mean?

person's hands holding food and looking at expiration date for food in the grocery store
Photo: Aviano Air Base

Often people open up their refrigerators, cupboards and cabinets to find foods that are beyond their sell- buy and use- buy dates. While it is always better to be safe than sorry, the following guidelines and information should help to take the guesswork out of determining whether or not your food is safe to eat.

Dating is not required by US Federal law, with the exception of infant formula and baby foods which must be withdrawn by their expiration date.  For all other foods, except dairy products in some states, freshness dating is strictly voluntary on the part of manufacturers.  For meat, poultry, and egg products under the jurisdiction of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), dates may be voluntarily applied provided they are not misleading and labeled in a manner that is in compliance with FSIS regulations.  Also stores are not legally required to remove outdated products from their shelves.  In order to ensure you getting the freshest food, it is necessary to scrutinize packaging and purchase the items with the most recent date.  Although most markets are good about rotating their stock, some are not. If a store is properly stocked, the freshest items will be at the back of the shelf or underneath older items.

So what do these terms mean for consumers?

* Expiration Date:   If you have a product with an expired expiration date, throw it out.  While other dating terms are used as a basic guideline, this one is absolute.

*Best if Used-By and Use-By date:

“Use-By” or: Best if Used By” dates are a suggestion for when the food item will be at its best quality.  Food is generally safe if consumed past this date, but may have deteriorated in flavor, texture, or appearance.  “Use- By” dates are most often found on canned goods, dry goods, condiments, or other shelf stable items.  The Food and Drug Administration is supporting the food industry’s efforts to standardize the use of this on its packaged food labeling.

*Sell-By date:

Many fresh or prepared foods are labeled with a “Sell-By” date as a guide for how long the item should be displayed for sale before quality deteriorates.  Items are generally safe for consumption after this date, but may begin to lose flavor or eye appeal.  “Sell-By” dates are chosen with the assumption that the buyer may store or eat the item a few days after purchase.  To be sure your food is fresh and will keep at home, it is best not to buy items that are past their “ sell by” date.

*Guaranteed Fresh

This date is often used for perishable baked goods.  Beyond this date, freshness is no longer guaranteed, although it may still be edible.

*Pack date:

This is the date the item was packed, most often used on canned and boxed items.  It is usually in the form of a code and not easy to decipher.  It may be coded by month(M), day (D) and year (Y) such as YYMMDD or MMDDYY.  Or it may be coded using Julian numbers, where January 1 would be 001 and December 31 would be 365.   These time stamps are generally a reference to the date, time, and location of the manufacture and not be confused with expiration dates.  “Sell-By” or “ Best-By” may also be included on the can code.

So all of this assumes foods are stored at the right temperature.  Foods not refrigerated properly – whether at home or at the store – wont keep as long regardless of what the freshness date says.  So how long are foods good after the package date?  According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service:

  • Milk is good for about a week after the “sell by” date
  • Eggs can keep for three to five weeks beyond the “sell by” date
  • Fresh chicken, turkey and ground meats should be cooked or frozen within two days
  • Fresh beef, pork and lamb should be cooked or frozen within three to five days

Cooking or freezing extends the amount of time a food will keep.  Use your eyes and nose too, to determine if foods are fresh, regardless of the date on the package.

So here are some food storage hints and tips:

  • Once opened, many of the dates become obsolete since the contents now become perishable. It is advisable to use food as quickly as possible after opening them.
  • Be sure to refrigerate leftovers in a covered container (not a can) and use within 3 to 5 days.
  • Some canned foods (like condiments and pickled foods) will have a longer shelf life if refrigerated. Most condiments will have a warning to refrigerate after opening on the label.
  • When buying foods always check the expiration date. Choose the date farthest in the future for optimum shelf life.
  • Like the grocery, rotate your stock at home. Rather than trying to determine the codes on cans, use a marker to write the purchase date on cans and packaged goods.
  • Whatever the expiration date, do not open or use cans that are bugling or oozing from the seams, or those that are heavily dented.
  • Most baking mixes contain fats which will become rancid with time and leaveners that lose their potency. Check the dates.
  • The best storage temperature for canned foods is 65 degrees F. Higher storage temperatures can reduce shelf-life up to 50 percent.  Most canned goods can be stored up to 1 year under optimal temperatures.
  • Canned foods should never be frozen. The freezing expansion can split the seams of the can or break the glass.
  • Generally, foods canned in glass have a longer shelf-life, but they must be stored in the dark since light can accelerate some natural chemical reactions.
  • Look at cellophane, plastic and box packages at the store to be sure they have not been punctured or torn. Once the seal is penetrated, shelf-life of the contents is drastically shortened.
  • Bring food home quickly from the store and store it properly for maximum shelf life.
  • Trust your vision and smell- if it looks and/or smells bad throw it out.
  • A resource available for consumers online with questions about how to keep perishable foods is: The FoodKeeper App (https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/foodkeeperapp/index.html)

 

Resources:

www.fsis.usda.gov

www.nrdc.org/food/expiration-dates.asp

www.urbanext.illinois.edu/thrifyliving/tl-foodfreshness.html

http://www.onthetable.net/freshness_dates.html

http://www.nutrition411.com/patient-education-materials/food-safety/

 

Article by: Sherry Gray, MPH, RD, Extension Educator, UConn EFNEP

Updated: September 30, 2019

Attend the CT Ag Wellness Summit

Ag Wellness Save the Date postcardStress has many causes and is a serious problem for those involved in agriculture. Unfortunately many folks try to deal with this quietly, showing a stiff upper lip, and by themselves – not the healthiest route to take. Join us in learning more about how to identify stressors,  understanding ways to help yourself, and equally important, how to identify signs so you may be able to help your friends and colleagues.

This FREE one day “CT Ag Wellness Summit: Helping You to Help Others” is for farmers, producers, and ag service providers. Download the flyer and registration information. This important summit is a collaboration between the UConn Dept. of Extension and Dept. of Plant Science & LA, CT Department of Agriculture, CT Farm Bureau, Farm Credit East, CT Veterinary Medical Association, Tufts Veterinary Medical Center, CT NOFA, USDA-Risk Management Agency and CT Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services.

Date:     Thursday, December 5, 2019

Time:    8:30 am – 3:30 pm

Where: Maneeley’s Conference Center, South Windsor

Cost:     FREE

Halloween is coming, but you can eat healthy

Halloween can be can be scary time of year for folks trying eat healthy. How do you stay selfish with your health when there are so many temptations?

Change your mind!

Have a plan:

Use apps to track your calories – so you know the true calorie cost of eating candy, or another helping of food.

Start a new tradition:

Butternut squash soup | by zrzka2010 Butternut squash soup | by zrzka2010
Butternut squash soup | by zrzka2010

Eat a healthy meal before trick or treating. Try a hearty vegetable soup with lots of harvest fresh vegetables –

Support your local farmer- give trick or treaters small apples or pears for healthy alternatives to candy

Give trick or treaters non-food items like pencils or stickers

Track your steps around the neighborhood while trick or treating –

Have a Healthy Halloween Dance party instead of trick or treating – make healthy Halloween foods like the Pear Witch Project 

Halloween witch made with a pear and other healthy foods

Try visiting your local farmers markets and farms for the season’s local harvest!

 

For more practical ideas on how to improve your low-income client’s food and nutrition behaviors contact the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program for a series of free nutrition and cooking classes at your agency.

Article by: Heather Pease Nutrition Outreach Educator, Hartford County Extension