Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mindfulness a way to reduce stress

Lately I have been seeing the word mindfulness associated with many activities and I have wondered what the hype is about.  Lately there have been several articles posted about mindful eating as a way to stay healthy.  During the month of October, there is a free mindfulness summit.  For 31 days you can log into the website to learn how to use mindfulness to reduce the stresses of daily life.  I have decided to commit to this summit and will try to log in everyday.  Mindfulness involves meditation, so tonight's homework is a 6 minute meditation.  If you would like to join me in this journey, here is the website. Mindfulness Summit

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

GMO's Are They Really Bad For Us?

On Monday's I receive a great e-mail from Food For Health Communications Blog Called Fresh Start Mondays.  Below is a section from a blog article GMOs: A Health Distractor? written by Judy Doherty.  Often when we read information about eating healthy GMOs are mentioned.  I felt this article gave some great information about the safety of our food supply.
What Are GMOs?

Genetically modified organisms — called GMOs or GMs for short — are foods that have had their genes altered in some way. They can also be referred to as genetically engineered (GE) foods.
Genetic alterations can be performed in order to change the features of a food, removing allergens or helping the plant resist drought or disease. According to the Washington State Department of Health, “The most common engineered crops are soybean, corn, canola and cotton oil.” Medline Plus maintains, “Tomatoes, potatoes, squash, corn, and soybeans have been genetically altered through biotechnology. Many more foods contain engineered ingredients and more are being developed.”

What Are The Effects of GMOs on Health?
The National Institutes of Health assert, “Genetically engineered foods are generally regarded as safe. There has not been enough testing, however, to ensure complete safety. There are no reports of illness or injury due to genetically engineered foods.”
GMOs are overseen and monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Because of this scrutiny by so many government agencies, “GM plants undergo extensive safety testing prior to commercialization” (source).

The study, Genetically modified plants and human health by Suzie Key, Julian K-C Ma, and Pascal MW Drake, reveals that “There is little documented evidence that GM crops are potentially toxic.” Another study, Public health issues related with the consumption of food obtained from genetically modified organisms by A Paparini and V Romano-Spica makes similar assertions, maintaining “Despite no described medical condition being directly associated with a diet including approved GM crops in large exposed populations such as 300,000,000 Americans and a billion Chinese, public opinion seems to look at this new technology with either growing concern or even disapproval.” That sentiment is echoed in a GMO FAQ sheet, which claims, “GMOs have been a part of the American diet since the mid-1990s. There are no links to specific health problems (Key, Ma, & Drake, 2008). However, some people worry that eating GMOs could be bad for your health.” This sheet takes the thought further, revealing that “Most studies say that eating GMOs pose no increased health risk. Other studies recommend more testing in order to be sure.”
We’re all in favor of more testing — further analysis may shed additional light on whether GMOs are safe for human consumption. However, do GMOs merit this much concern and discussion when a large body of evidence indicates that they are not the root causes of health issues?

How Can I Find GMOs? How Can I Avoid Them?
The easiest way to avoid GMOs is to buy organic foods, which cannot contain them.
According to a blog post from the USDA, “The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.”
When it comes to food labels, as of the date of this article’s publication, manufacturers are not required to disclose whether they use GMOs in their products. In fact, “The FDA requires labeling of GMOs only if the product is significantly different from the original food in nutrition, safety, and composition” (source). Manufacturers can voluntarily label their products, but it appears as though that process is not currently tightly regulated.

Should I Worry about GMOs?
After all the research I did, I found that I personally don’t see anything wrong with GMOs. Instead, I believe that rather than making sure their foods are GMO-free, most people just have to stop eating so much processed food, replacing those items with fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods. After all, who can argue about GMOs while eating a steady diet of fatty burgers and packaged cookies?
It’s time to change the conversation from “GMOs-as-the-most-dangerous-foods” and instead discuss the elements that have been much more closely linked to chronic disease — added sugars, saturated fats, excess sodium, etc. There’s a lot more science to back that up.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sweeten your Tea with out Sugar

Iced tea is a good beverage choice healthful phytochemicals (plant chemicals that are beneficial to humans) and is often cheaper than ready-made beverages, sodas and mixes. Plus, if you don’t add sugar, then it contains zero calories!  But sometimes we want our tea a little sweet.

To sweeten your tea without sugar, try adding:
  • Citrus: lemon slices or orange slices
  • Herbs: mint, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemon grass
  • Spices: cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, cloves
  • Fresh fruit (choose ones that won’t oxidize, like peaches, cherries, berries, or melon)
You can also make combinations using fruit, spices, citrus, and herbs! Consider:
  • Peach green tea
  • Black tea with orange slices and cinnamon
  • Green tea with rosemary and lemon
  • Minted iced tea
  • Black tea with nutmeg, cherries, and oranges
To make it easier to grab tea instead of a soda, prepare it ahead of time and have it ready in the refrigerator waiting.

To brew a great pitcher of tea, remember that tea should never be boiled.  Boiling tea leaves releases a bitter flavor.  Bring water to a boil and then remove from heat and place tea in the water or pour hot water over tea leaves.  Steep for 4 minutes for perfect tea.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Take Action | America's PrepareAthon!

September 30, 2015 is National Preparathon Day.  Are your prepared to deal with a Natural Disaster?  Check out the link below for tips on how to prepare for a disaster.

Take Action | America's PrepareAthon!

September is Whole Grains Month

I ran across an article recently reminding that September is Whole Grains Month.   Whole grains have not been refined, so they have the complete grain kernel and all of the nutrition packed germ and bran.  Whole grains often have a nuttier flavor and will help you stay fuller longer.  In addition, they promote colon health.  Have you tried bugler, quinoa, or millet?  Add some extra nutrition to your everyday meal by substituting a whole grain in your baked goods or look up a new recipe.  To get you started here is a whole grain pancake recipe.

Whole grains include corn, oats, and brown rice.  There are many crackers and cereals made with whole grains too.  Be sure to read the label and make sure the first grain ingredient is listed as "Whole".   Remember color is not always an indicator, especially when examining bread.  Bread label as "Wheat" or made with "whole grain" is not whole grain.  Be sure to check the ingredients list.

Whole Grain Pancake Recipe
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 3 pancakes
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 cups soy milk
  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the soy milk and stir until the batter is smooth.
  2. Lightly spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking oil and heat it over medium-high heat. Spoon the batter into the skillet to form 3-inch pancakes.
  3. When the pancakes bubble, it’s time to turn them over. Cook the other side, then remove them from the pan. Repeat with remaining batter.
  4. Serve hot.
Nutrition Information:
  • Serves 4. Each serving contains 224 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 42 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrate, 5 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar, and 10 g protein.
  • Each serving also has 0% DV vitamin A, 0% DV vitamin C, 24% DV calcium, and 11% DV iron.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Concussion in youth sports | GEHA

Last year my son ended his football season with a concussion during the last game.  This made us very cautious of this year's season and we check him for signs after every game.  Concussions are not limited to football, soccer and basketball players are in danger of concussions too.  

Adults can also get concussions from falls and accidents.  Be aware of the symptoms and seek medical help.  Here is an article from GEHA insurance company that describes what happens when you get a concussion and what you should do.

Concussion in youth sports | GEHA

Positive emotions and your health: developing a brighter outlook | GEHA

I was cleaning out old e-mails and I ran across a newsletter from my health insurance company.  There was a link in the newsletter about positive attitude that intrigued me.  I often find myself at the end of summer with a poor attitude, maybe due to the stress of all of the 4-H activities.  By the end of August, I am in need of a new attitude.  September is a time to catch up on reports and finalize grants, not a very exciting time.  It is easy to get into a funk.  Attitude can make a big difference.  There are several helpful tips in this article to help us develop a positive attitude and improve our health.

As I am writing this I am reminded of a beloved member of our community who recently passed away.  This wonderful lady had MS and many of the complications.  I did not know her personally, but I was always blessed by her smile and cheerfulness as I passed her in the halls of her work place as I visited.  She had many struggles, but never let them bring her down.  Over the years, I saw her body give our, but her smile never did.

Positive emotions and your health: developing a brighter outlook | GEHA

A Battery Operated Radio Should Be In Your Emergency Supplies

Each month, I receive an e-mail with just one thing you can do each month to become prepared for an emergency.  There were three great options of things to do this month, but the one I think we put off the most is making sure we have a battery operated radio.  Depending on where you live in the county, you might benefit from a NOAA emergency alert radio.  They do not work in all areas.

Weather can change very quickly. Severe weather may strike when people are sleeping or unaware of the forecast. This can be deadly if people do not seek a safe shelter. A NOAA emergency alert radio (sometimes called a weather radio) can turn itself on when an emergency alert is issued and warn you at any time - day or night.  Emergency alert radios can also be used to warn about other emergencies, such as a chemical spill. With the Emergency Alert Radio, you will be warned about dangerous situations in time to take shelter or other safe action.These radios can be purchased at stores that sell electronics. Prices start at about $20.00. Most run on batteries or have battery back-up.

Even if you can not utilize a NOAA, a battery operated radio is still a must for getting information when the power is out.  Often the first communication tool back up after an emergency is the radio station. The station will share important information on what you need to do to remain safe.

To learn more about what you can do to be prepare, check out this month's newsletter.

Sept Fact Sheet

Do You Bank or Shop On Line? Tips To Protect Your Identity

Many of us shop and pay bills online.  This is considered safer than writing and mailing checks.  However, you are still creating opportunity for identity theft.  Here are some things that you can do to guard your information when banking and purchasing on line.  These days, many of us do most of our shopping and banking on the web. With all those account numbers and passwords floating around, it’s easy for someone to nab your information and go on a spree.

  • ·         Do not use the same password for your bank accounts and credit card accounts.  When selecting a password a longer one is better and make sure it has numbers or symbols.  The strongest passwords use the first letters of a sentence that you can remember with a number and a symbol added somewhere.
  •  ·      Clear your logins and passwords. This is especially important if you’ve been working on a public computer. Change logins and passwords monthly.
  • ·        Pay for online purchases with your credit card, which has better guarantees under federal law than your online payment services or your debit card or direct withdrawal from your checking account.
  • ·        Be alert for phishing, a trick in which spam or pop-ups mimic legitimate banks or businesses to obtain your personal information, which they use to access your accounts. Always verify that you’re on a familiar Web site with security controls before entering personal data.
  • ·        Monitor your bank and credit card statements. Check your accounts regularly so you know when something’s awry. Purchases you didn’t make should be obvious—like a gas fill-up halfway across the country.
  • ·        Verify your mailing address with the post office and financial institutions. Identity bandits may fill out change of address forms so that delinquent credit notices remain off your paper billing radar.
  • ·         Monitor your credit report. By law, you’re entitled to a free report every year from each of the three bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Request one every four months, changing bureaus each time. You can order the report directly through each agency, or at  There are hordes of knockoff sites that will try to charge you for your report and other needless services. Scan it for abnormal activity, such as accounts or credit cards you didn’t open. (And don’t fall prey to faux free credit report advertisements.)
  • ·         Shred sensitive documents. Buy a shredder and regularly shred outdated bank statements, credit card applications, bills, and anything with your personal information before tossing it into the trash or recycling. Junk mail often includes some of your personal details.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Food Safety Savvy in the Kitchen

Test Your Food Safety Know-How

  1. Before handling food, you should always wash your hands with soap and water to get rid of germs. True or False  
  2. In a hurry? It’s not OK to use the same knife to cut up raw meat and salad fixings.
    True or False
  3. Use a food thermometer to check for doneness, even if your roasted chicken isn’t pink inside.
    True or False
  4. The standing time listed on your microwaveable lasagna’s cooking directions is a don’t-skip step. True or false

To find out if you know the correct answers, check out this new blog.  Food Safety Savvy in the Kitchen Blog

Friday, September 11, 2015

Have You Received Your New Credit Card Yet!

Have you received a replacement credit card that looks a little different?  I received mine a couple of weeks ago.  You will notice a computer chip on it.  This is part of the new nationwide shift to EMV

EMV -- which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa -- is a global standard for cards equipped with computer chips and the technology used to authenticate chip-card transactions. In the wake of numerous large-scale data breaches and increasing rates of counterfeit card fraud, U.S. card issuers are migrating to this new technology to protect consumers and reduce the costs of fraud.  Europe has already successfully transferred to EMV cards.

The shift goes into effect in October 2015, but will take many months to complete.  Businesses will need to get new credit card machines that reads and transfers data differently.  During the transition time period, credit cards will have both the magnetic strip and the computer chip, so they can work in the machine that the business has.

For merchants and financial institutions, the switch to EMV means adding new in-store technology and internal processing systems, and complying with new liability rules.  For consumers, it means activating new cards and learning new payment processes.

Unlike magnetic-stripe cards, every time an EMV card is used for payment, the card chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again.  If a hacker stole the chip information from one specific point of sale, typical card duplication would never work because the stolen transaction number created in that instance wouldn't be usable again and the card would just get denied.

Just like magnetic-stripe cards, EMV cards are processed for payment in two steps: card reading and transaction verification.  However, with EMV cards you no longer have to master a quick, fluid card swipe in the right direction. Chip cards are read in a different way.   Instead of going to a register and swiping your card, you are going to do what is called 'card dipping' instead, which means inserting your card into a terminal slot and waiting for it to process.

When an EMV card is dipped into the machine, data flows between the card chip and the issuing financial institution to verify the card's legitimacy and create the unique transaction data. This process isn't as quick as a magnetic-stripe swipe.  In addition, the card issuing company may require you to type in a pin number even if you are using the card as a credit card and not a debit card.

Be prepared when you go shopping, if the company sent you a letter with a pin number prior to receiving your credit card memorize it.  You will be asked to enter it after you dip your card in the machine.  I was caught off guard when making a recent purchase and did not know my pin, slowing up the check out line.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Protecting Your Credit Cards

The program for our Quay County Extension Association this month is on protecting your credit cards.  While reading about identity theft I learned several tips that everyone should do to make it more difficult for someone to steal your information.

Here are 10 Ways to Protect Your Credit Cards as you use them:

  1.  Never leave your cards unattended at work. There are more credit card thefts in the workplace than in any other single location.   
  2. If your credit card is programmed to access an Automated Teller Machine (ATM), protect your Personal Identification Number (PIN) or security code. Don't write it down, memorize it.  
  3. Don't leave your credit cards in your vehicle. A very high proportion of credit cards are stolen from motor vehicles.
  4. Always check your card when returned to you after a purchase. Make sure it is your card.  
  5. When traveling, carry your cards with you or make sure they are in a secure location.  Only take one or two with you on the trip.  Leave the other locked up in a safe location. 
  6. Report lost or stolen cards immediately. Most fraudulent use of cards takes place within days of their being lost or stolen.  Make a list of all your cards and their numbers. This key information is helpful when reporting lost or stolen cards.
  7. Sign the back of a new card as soon you get it. Destroy unwanted cards so no one else can use them. 
  8. Always check your monthly statement. Make sure the charges are yours. Report them to your card company if the entry is not yours.
  9. Never give your card number over the phone unless you are dealing with a reputable company. The only time you should give it is when you have called to place an order
  10. Store your RFID-enabled cards in a foil lined pouch to protect from cloning.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Watermelon Candy?

Last week we cut into a large delicious Black Diamond Watermelon, but with only three of us to eat it, we had a lot to do something with.  I have been preparing for a workshop on Food Dehydration, so I sliced some into strips and took it to the office to put in the food dehydrator.  Once out of the dryer we had crispy sheets of sweet watermelon goodness.  Learn how we made this and dried other foods at our Food Dehydration Workshop on Thursday.  You will get to sample our watermelon candy.

It's Green Chile Season in New Mexico!

I love the aroma and colors of Fall in New Mexico.  The kick off to Fall and football is Green Chile Season.  At our house, we support our local FFA by purchasing roasted green chile for freezing.  Of course we don't freeze it all as we make one our favorite dishes, chile rellenos.  This year the chile was exceptionally meaty and made excellent rellenos. 

Care must be taken when freezing green chile.  As the chile cools to below 140 degrees, bacteria begins to grow.  Chile needs to be cooled all the way through to 40 degrees with in 2 hours of roasting to slow bacteria growth.  Many travelers come through New Mexico during this time and want to purchase a bushel of roasted peppers to take home.  The safe method of taking some of New Mexico Flavor home with you is to purchase it unroasted and roast it yourself when you get home.

Here is a publication on how to safely freeze chile.Freezing Green Chile