Thursday, August 3, 2017

Beware of New Canning Lids

I had the pleasure to judge the indoor exhibit at a neighboring county's fair today.  I always enjoy visiting this small ranching community and seeing the wonderful entries.  They have some fantastic bakers.  This year the crochet was phenomenal.  I always learn about new techniques and yarns.  This year there were some jars canned with a white plastic lid that I had not seen before.  So when I got home this evening, I went to the trusted site to research these lids.  I wanted to know about them for the canning workshop I have next week.

I know that idea of a reusable canning lid is popular, because of the expense of the flat metal lids, but I was skeptical.  Previous versions of reusable lids often did not seal well and often did not maintain a seal.

I found the lids on the Ball/Kerr web site, but there are other companies that make them too.  It it clearly stated on the box that they are for storage in the refrigerator and freezer and for dry foods.  They do not seal jars for shelf stable canned goods.

For jars to form the vacuum seal required to keep the food safe inside the jar, there must be away to let the air out of the jar as it is processing.  The two piece band and flat lid is designed for this purpose.  Steam escapes as the jar heats, the band holds the lid in place and when the steam is gone the sealing compound glues the lid to the jar.  The other important factor is having the correct head space for the food being canned.

These lids are not to be used to processed canned food for shelf stability.  They can be use to store opened canned food in the refrigerator, making foods that are stored in the refrigerator, freezing foods, and storing dried foods.

According to some blogs that I read, some brands of the plastic lids have a gasket in them, which can help reduce leakage if the jars tip over in the refrigerator.  Another blog suggested saving money by reusing screw-band lids from store bought foods instead of buying these.

This link will take you to the Ball/Kerr website page about lids.

 Canning Lids 101

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Stop Those Suckers - Control Mosquitos

Eight Reasons Why Walking is Great for Your Health

We all know that we should walk more, but it is hard to get motivated.  It is easy to talk ourselves out of getting started and hard to stick with it, but the rewards are great.  Here are some reasons for you to get out and walk and it is also free!

1. Walking strengthens your heart
Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by walking regularly. It’s great cardio exercise, lowering levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. The Stroke Association says that a brisk 30-minute walk every day helps to prevent and control the high blood pressure that causes strokes, reducing the risk by up to 27 percent.

2. Walking lowers disease risk
A regular walking habit slashes the risk of type 2 diabetes by around 60 percent, and you’re 20 percent less likely to develop cancer of the colon, breast or womb with consistent aerobic activity such as walking.

3. Walking helps you lose weight
You’ll burn around 75 calories simply by walking at 2mph for 30 minutes. Up your speed to 3mph and it’s 99 calories, while 4mph is 150 calories. Work that short walk into your daily routine and you’ll shed the pounds in no time.

4. Walking prevents dementia
Older people who walk six miles or more per week are more likely to avoid brain shrinkage and preserve memory as the years pass. Dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80.  Walking would be great preventive medicine.

5. Walking tones up legs, derrieres and stomachs
Give definition to calves, quads and hamstrings while lifting your glutes with a good, regular walk. Add hill walking into the mix and it’s even more effective. Pay attention to your posture and you’ll also tone your abs and waist.

6. Walking boosts vitamin D
Recent research points to Vitamin D’s importance in bone health, immune systems and overall health.  Walking is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors while getting your vitamin D fix.

7. Walking gives you energy
You’ll get more done with more energy, and a brisk walk is one of the best natural energizers around. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive.

8. Walking makes you happy
It’s true – exercise boosts your mood. Studies show that a brisk walk is just as effective as antidepressants in mild to moderate cases of depression, releasing feel-good endorphins while reducing stress and anxiety. So for positive mental health, walking’s an absolute must.

A Walking Group for Beginners Started July 24
We all need some motivation help and the best motivator is being part of a group or having a buddy that is counting on you to be there.  So join me and help me stay motivated as I start a walking group for beginners.  We will meet at the Tucumcari Fitness Complex by the High School Auditorium each Monday at 8:30 a.m.  We will do a few stretches and walk at our own pace around the paths.  The weather should be cool enough to walk safely this early.  Wear good shoes and bring a bottle of water.  This group will start walking July 24 and try to continue through September.  You may start at any time.  No charge!  No registration, just show up.

Canning Workshop Coming Up

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fruits and Vegetables For Better Weight Control

As the low carb craze is making another round in the fad diet world, we often forget the importance of fruits and vegetables in our over all health.  In addition to all of the vitamins and minerals that they provide for your overall health, Fruits and Vegetables can help you avoid extra weight as you age.  A new study analyzing data on 133,468 men and women over up to 24 years reports that eating more fruits and non-starchy vegetables is associated with modest weight loss. The weight-control benefits were greater for fruits than vegetables, and strongest for certain types of produce: berries, apples and pears, citrus fruits, tofu and soy, cauliflower, other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and leafy green vegetables.  Phenolic-rich fruits, such as berries and apples, were most strongly linked to less weight gain.

Studies that tracked diet and weight loss over a long period found vegetables higher in fiber and lower in glycemic load such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts were more strongly associated with maintaining a healthy weight. Greater fruit intake was associated with weight benefits regardless of fiber content or glycemic load.

Intakes of starchy vegetables such as corn, peas and potatoes were each associated with more weight gain, however. (The potatoes result was for boiled, baked or mashed potatoes, and doesn’t even include popular forms such as potato chips or French fries.) Corn was most strongly associated with weight gain, with each daily serving linked to 2.04 extra pounds every four years.  Although these starchy vegetables have nutritional value, such as potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, fiber and protein, they have a higher glycemic load.  This large amount of starch likely explains their ssociation with weight gain.

APPLES, BERRIES AND MORE: Each incremental daily serving of fruit was associated with weight loss of 0.53 pounds. (The study looked only at whole fruit, not juice.) When individual fruits were analyzed, increased intakes of blueberries, prunes, apples, pears, strawberries, grapes and raisins, and grapefruit were inversely associated with four-year weight changes. Strongest benefits were seen for fruits rich in phenolics, biologically active plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

All fruits and vegetables bring something to your table in terms of nutrition. If you’re watching your weight or concerned about "middle-age spread," however, eating more fruits and non-starchy vegetables in place of less-healthy foods might improve what you see when you step on the scale.

Since this is National Salad Week, there is no better time to add some fruit and vegetables to your day.

Visit here for the complete article from Tuffs

Fruits and Vegetables Linked to Better Weight Control - Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Article

Thursday, July 20, 2017

National Salad Week

The fourth week of July is National Salad Week. Salads are a great choice for everyone. They are an easy to make entrĂ©e or side dish and are especially pleasing during hot summer months. People who are not used to making salads may enjoy them more when they realize how many options there are for customizing salads to their own tastes.  When it is hot outside a nice cool salad is the perfect answer to "What's for Supper?"  Here are a few tips for creating a festive salad:
  • Try different greens. Iceberg lettuce is the most popular, but there are many kinds of lettuce and
  • greens that offer different flavors and more nutrients. Dark green leaves are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, folic acid, and calcium.
  • Add fresh herbs. They are low in calories but really boost flavor. Popular choices include basil, dill, chives, and parsley. Start with a teaspoon of herbs per person, and adjust the amount according to taste.
  • Experiment with various toppings. Salads look great with colorful fruits and vegetables mixed in. Artichoke hearts, nuts, and seeds are also flavorful additions. If you are grilling, try adding kabobs to your salad. Bell peppers, onions, and squash work well as the vegetables, and you may add lean chicken, beef, or pork to the kabob as desired.
  • Dress your salad. With so many salad dressings available, salads never have to get boring. Look for
  • ones that are low in carbohydrates, and dress (don’t drown) your salad.
 Experiment with your favorite combinations and create your own dressings.  One of my favorite dressings is malt vinegar with a little honey.  Stir well or shake in a jar.  You can make it as sweet or tangy as you want. 

Last week I made a beet and mandarin orange salad with a dressing of red wine vinegar and mandarin orange juice with chopped mint and some olive oil to hold it together.  The salad was spiralized beets and mandarin oranges.

Try this fun combination

Summer Watermelon Salad

3/4 cup halved, thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 quarts seeded, cubed watermelon
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup pitted black olive halves
1 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place the onion slices in a small bowl with the lime juice. The acid of the lime will mellow the flavor of the raw onion. Let stand for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon cubes, feta cheese, black olives, onions with the lime juice, and mint. Drizzle olive oil over it all, and toss to blend.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Quick Meals - No Time to Defrost

Tip #8 - Forgot to defrost something for dinner?  This is a common problem at our house.  We get so busy, no one remembers to get food out of the freezer.  Defrosting takes time we often don't have, so we would end up going out.  

To save your budget and have a healthier meal, experiment with cooking food directly from a frozen state.  Many foods can be cooked this way with a delicious outcome.  We have been trying these ideas with great success.

Utilize your oven to cook fish or chicken breasts from frozen.  Place the pieces in a baking pan with a little margarine, to start.  Place in your oven and turn it to 350 degrees.  After about 30 minutes, remove from the oven and season as you would like and finish cooking.  This usually takes about 45 minutes for thick pieces, but be sure to check with a thermometer to make sure they are done.  Depending on the thickness of the fish, it may cook much faster.

Ground beef can be browned in a pan over low heat with some water which produces steam and helps it thaw faster.  Use about 1/2 cup of water and be sure to break up the big pieces as you can.  This is great for a quick taco or burrito meal, spaghetti, or a skillet meal.

Roasts can be cooked from frozen in your oven as well.  Set your oven to 325 degrees and put the roast in a roaster pan with a liquid of your choice and your favorite herbs.  The roast will be done in a couple of hours, but if it is a tough roast, turn the oven down to 225 degrees after the two hours and slow cook it for several hours.

A great appliance to have for quick meals, is a pressure cooker or one of the new multi-cookers.  There are many varieties, so be sure to read the directions.   Some go from slow cook to fry, these work similar to a slow cooker.  If you are going to cook from a frozen state in one of these be sure to use a bake or roast setting.  The pressure cooker is an excellent way to quickly defrost and cook meat.  Be sure to follow the directions that come with your appliance for proper times.  Products from the pressure cookers are usually tender and moist.  The pressure cooker cooks by raising the cooking temperature above boiling, so food defrosts and cooks quickly.

It is not safe to defrost food in a slow cooker or crock pot.  Bacteria grows quickly when food is between the temperatures of 40 to 140 degrees for more than 2 hours.  Crockpots or Slow cookers do not get hot enough to defrost and heat the food to safe levels and keep the out of the danger zone for less than two hours.

Food Handlers Training Course in Logan Tuesday

Here is a great chance for those of you who live in Logan and serve food at your church, the American Legion, or a school concession stand.  The ServSafe course will be offered Tuesday, June 27 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at Logan School's Board Room.  The course is $17.00 if you want a book or $12.00 if you already have a book.  Please bring a check or cash.  In order for me to have enough tests, please call the Extension Office at 461-0562 to reserve a spot.  This class will be taught by Brenda Bishop, Quay County Extension FCS Agent.  Currently, the pass rate for those taking this class from Brenda is 93%.

Friday, June 9, 2017

An Abunance of Apricots

At our class last night, one of the ladies had sacks of Apricots to share.  Often our fruit trees freeze, so fresh apricots are a rarity.   She is expecting to have a lot of apricots over the next couple of weeks.  Apricots make a great snack, dessert or breakfast item.  In addition to Vitamin C, apricots are very high in Vitamin A.  Six medium fresh apricots can supply more than 1/3 of the normal daily requirement of Vitamin A.  One apricot has approximately 16 calories and is one of the best fruit sources of minerals like iron.

Apricots are a delicate fruit and need to be handled with some care. Avoid dropping or setting items on apricots.  Store fully ripened apricots in the refrigerator, which will slow down the ripening process, keeping the fruit fresh longer. To ripen slightly green apricots, store them in a closed paper bag in a warm room. Fresh fruit should be washed under cold water to remove any dirt or bacteria before eating. Fresh apricots should maintain their quality for 2 to 5 days depending on their condition.  They can be eaten raw or cooked.  Some people cook and puree them for use in breads and cookies.  They also make great jams and preserves.

Freezing apricots is a quick and easy way to have apricots all year long. To freeze apricots submerge the fruit in boiling water for ½ minute to keep the peel from toughening. You do not have to peel apricots. Slice in half and remove the pit. Treat to keep them from turning brown with a commercial solution of ascorbic acid or by dipping fruit in unsweetened pineapple or lemon juice.

If you want sweetened apricots, a good way to freeze apricots is in a sugar pack.  Make the pack by mixing prepared fruit with sugar and ascorbic acid in a large bowl. Use ½ to 1/3 cup sugar to each quart of prepared fruit. Gently stir until the fruit is coated and the sugar is dissolved. Pack the fruit into a freezer container and freeze.  Frozen apricots are delicious in pies, crisps, and cobblers. 

Another great way to preserve apricots for later use is by drying them.  They make nutrient packed snacks to take on the go.  Fruit may be dried in your oven or a food dehydrator.  For details on how to dry, freeze or can apricots, check out these pages from NMSU's Extension Service.