Friday, March 31, 2017

Quay County Challenge to Step Into Spring

Step Into Spring Challenge

Spring is here, the days are nicer and we have more daylight in the evening.  This is a perfect time to get out and move before it becomes too hot.  To help us with motivation, the Nutrition and Fitness Committee of the Quay County Health Council and the Quay County Extension Service are hosting a steps challenge.  It is the perfect time to try out the marked trails too.

Taking part in the step challenge is easy.  We have a great website for you to use.  Go to the URL  Enter your email and create your own password.  At the screen, it will tell you how many days until the challenge begins.  There are two buttons, one is to select a team and the other is to link your cellphone app or wearable tracker.   If you don’t have these, you can manually enter your steps.  It is that easy.  If you don’t have an app yet, check the program for some that are easy to use with your cellphone.

Throughout the challenge you can check in on your progress and your teams.  You can post to facebook your points with a simple click of the button.  You can help keep the excitement by posting on any of your social media platforms using our hashtags  #QCSpringStep and #QuayCountyOnTheMove.

There will be prizes for the teams and individuals calculated around the steps walked.  We will also have fun prizes requiring you to post pictures of your walking adventures.  Be creative with your team name and have some fun.  Challenge other departments in your company or organization to get a team together.  Team scores are calculated on an average, so you can have as many as you want on your team.  Maybe get your church class to challenge another class.

If you do not have access to a computer, you may use the one at the library, so you can track the fun and follow the posts and pictures on social media.  If you are not a techie, then stop by the extension office and pick up a log sheet.  Track your steps daily and then bring your sheet back on May 22nd and we will enter your steps.

The challenge begins April 8 and ends May 20, 2017.  Just 6 weeks!  Don’t wait to sign up!  Be ready to go on day 1.  Awards will be presented at a party on May 25th, be watching for details.  For help contact or call the Extension Office at 461-0562.  Marked walking trails begin at the Railroad Depot, Northside Park, Dunn Park, the Fitness Complex, the Elementary School and the Rec Center.  Look for the trail head sign to see how long the route is.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Is Bagged Salad as Safe as You Think?

Bagged salad and spinach are a great convenience food.  They help us provide healthy meals for our families in minutes.  But are they safe?   The attached article shows gives the results of a British study.

As always treat bagged salad as you would cut produce be sure to refrigerate and follow the 2 hour rule.

Is Bagged Salad as Safe as You Think? - Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Article

Quick Meals Tips - Batch Cooking

Tip 5 – Try some batch cooking.  A great time saver for future meals is to prepare the meat for a meal to make twice as much and use it for two or more different meals within the week. For example: have a roasted chicken one night and serve the left-overs in a pasta dish on another night.  

For a Sunday meal: make a pork roast and serve as sliced roast with potatoes and a nice vegetable.  Shred the rest of the roast, season with bar-be-que sauce for pork sandwiches and if it is a large roast make the rest into a quesadilla for lunch or quick stir-fry.

Be sure to eat within 3 days of preparing the meat the first time to insure the safety of the meal and for better quality.  If you don't think you will be able to eat it all within 3 days, freeze a portion for a different week

An extra advantage of using batch cooking, is that you can prepare a roast or other meat when you have time to slow cook great homemade flavor into the meat.  Your other meals will taste like you spent hours instead of minutes preparing them.

Ground beef is perfect for batch cooking.  Cook up some seasoned ground beef and freeze in the quantities you need for recipes you like to make.   I have been known to cook up 10 pounds at once.  

In our house we season up large batches of browned hamburger with our favorite taco seasonings and freeze in packages to make fast meals like burritos, tacos, tacos salad, or meat pies.

Taco-seasoned Meat
Ready in 30 minutes or less

4 pounds of ground beef
4 medium onions, chopped
4 envelopes taco seasoning mix

In a Dutch oven, cook beef and onions until meat is no longer pink; drain.  Add the taco seasoning and mix well.  Cool.  Spoon 2 ½ cups into each of four resealable freezer bags.   Freeze for up to 3 months.

2 ½ cups of taco seasoned meat
⅔ cup water
8 taco shells
Optional Ingredients: Shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced ripe olives, sour cream and chopped tomatoes.
In a saucepan or skillet, combine water and seasoned meat.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Simmer, uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Spoon ⅓ cupful into each taco shell.  Top with desired toppings.  Yield 8 tacos.

Taco Twist Bake
Ready in 1 hour or less
2 ½ cups of cooked taco-seasoned meat
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
¼ cup chopped green pepper
1 package (8 ounces) spiral pasta, cooked and drained
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

In a small saucepan, combine the taco meat, tomato sauce and green pepper; bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, combine pasta and sour cream; place in a greased 8-inch square baking dish.  Sprinkle with ½ cup of cheese.  Top with meat mixture.  Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake 5 to 10 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted.  Yield: 4-6 servings.

Taco Corn Bread Squares
Ready in 1 hour or less

1 package (8 ½ ounces) corn bread/muffin mix
1 egg
⅓ cup milk
2 ½ cups cooked taco-seasoned meat
1 can refried beans
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ cups shredded Mexican cheese blend or Cheddar cheese, divided
¼ cup chopped onion
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 can (2 ¼ ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained

In a bowl, combine corn bread mix, egg and milk until blended.  Spread into a greased 9-inch square baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Combine taco meat and beans; spread over cornbread.  Combine sour cream, 1 cup cheese and onion; spread over meat mixture.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with tomato, lettuce, olives and remaining cheese.  Yield: 4 – 6 servings.