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Teatime Tassies

A high angle close up shot of several pecan mini tarts sitting on one of great grandma's 1800's vintage French cooling rack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try this wonderful recipe for the holidays!

 

1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese                                 1 egg

1 stick margarine, softened                                1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour                                        1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup brown sugar

 

Cream together cream cheese and margarine.  Using  a spoon, stir in flour to make soft dough and roll into 24 balls, about the size of walnuts.  Using a small cup muffin tin, press each ball into cups and chill one hour.  Meanwhile, beat together sugar, egg, and vanilla until frothy.  Stir in nuts.  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake in a preheated 300′ F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Yield:  24 tassies

 

Source: Mrs.  Laura Rogers’ St.  Clair County High School Home Economics Class.  (I’ve made lots of these since high school-so esay and absolutely delicious!  A must for the holidays!)

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Football Season and Tailgating Parties

Hot wings, nachos, pigs in a blanket, beer, and popcorn, a tailgate party spread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the arrival of fall comes football season. What’s more fun than gathering with friends for a tailgating party?

However, don’t let cooler weather fool you into thinking you don’t need to consider the possibility of food-borne bacteria spoiling your party. Be proactive and follow a few simple procedures for safe food handling – then you’ll be sure to go home healthy from a fun day with friends.

* Before, during and after preparing your food, be sure you wash your hands, lathering them with warm soap and scrubbing for a full 20 seconds. Set up a large drink container with a spigot as your water source.

* Include moist towelettes or hand sanitizer for guests to use.

* Keep two separate insulated coolers: one for drinks and one for food. This will keep your food well chilled since the drink cooler is likely to be opened more frequently. Place coolers in the shade and cover them with blankets to help hold in the cold temperature.

* Place cold and frozen foods into coolers. Don’t assume your cooler can chill foods adequately if the food is at room temperature prior to packing.

* Pack foods in reverse order so that the last ones packed will be the first ones used, allowing food at the bottom to stay chilled longer.

* Meat and other similar raw foods should be packed in sealed plastic bags or containers in a chilled, insulated cooler. This will prevent contamination of other foods from leaking juices. Store raw foods separately from ready-to-eat foods.

* Take meat out of the cooler just in time to place on the grill. Never place cooked meat, fish or poultry back in the container that the raw meat, fish or poultry was in. Use a clean pair of tongs and a clean plastic plate or platter when removing the cooked items from the grill. When marinating meat, fish or poultry, discard the leftover marinade after you place the items on the grill. Never use this marinade on the cooked item.

* Use a meat thermometer to judge the safe internal temperature of meat and poultry over 2 inches thick (145F or higher for steaks and chops and 155F for ground meat, 165F or higher for poultry). For meat or poultry less than 2 inches thick, look for clear juices as signs of being done.

* Use separate cutting boards to prevent cross contamination of raw and cooked foods. Wipe them clean with paper towels at the barbecue and toss them in your dishwasher to sanitize when you return home.

* Perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, sandwiches with mayonnaise and salads should not be kept at temperatures above 40F for more than two hours. When the outside temperature is 90F or higher, food should be left out for no longer than one hour.

* If deli or takeout foods such as fried chicken, potato salad or coleslaw are on the menu, make sure they are eaten within two hours of pickup.

* Hot food should be kept at 140F or hotter until served. Try wrapping your hot casserole or other item in several layers of aluminum wrap, followed by newspapers and a towel.

* Cover all food with plastic wrap, aluminum foil or lids, or keep foods and supplies in their original packaging to prevent contamination.

* If you’re not sure if food is still safe to eat, resort to the rule, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

 

Shelby County Regional Extension Agent Food Safety and Quality:

Angela Treadaway

Office: 205-669-6763

Mobile: 205-410-3696

Email: treadas@aces.edu

 

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

Spice up your child’s lunchbox with these quick but healthy food options

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most parents want to provide healthy food options when packing lunches for their kids, but often fail to realize which nutritious ingredients they are leaving out.(Photo, right: Pexels)

Surprisingly, it does not take an Iron Chef to pack a yummy and nutritious lunch. However, it does take parents who are knowledgeable about the food they are buying and parents who are willing to try new and creative recipes. Teresa Forehand, a regional Extension agent in human nutrition, diet and health, recommends five tips for busy parents to use when packing healthy food options.

Sneak in Vegetables

Parents should always include vegetables in lunches. According to Forehand, they can do this in creative ways that children may not even realize. “Hide veggies in anything from guacamole for sandwich spreads to muffins with carrots or zucchini baked into them,” Forehand said.

Convenience

“I buy pre-sliced apple wedges for convenience,” Forehand said. “Also, a banana cut in half with the end dipped in Splenda or dry Koolaid is a hit.” These simple tips help save parents time in the morning while still offering creativity. Michelle Floyd, mother of 6-year-old twins, said, “I like to make fruit and vegetable dip on Sunday nights, that way I can quickly add them to my girl’s lunches during the week.”

Alternatives

Some parents believe that packing bags of chips in lunches is too easy to pass up, but according to Forehand, not all chips have to be unhealthy. Parents should opt for a whole grain alternative like Sun Chips. “Veggie chips are crunchy and delicious,” Forehand said. “Cookies are a nice treat but choose whole grain options such as oatmeal.”

Know Your Child

It is important to know what portion size your child will need when packing healthy food options. “One slice of bread is a serving for a preschooler but not for elementary school children,” Forehand said. “Usually 2 ounces of protein, 4 ounces of juice, 8 ounces of fluid milk or yogurt are proper serving sizes.” She also suggests that parents look for artificial coloring that can be added into ingredient lists. These ingredients can be problematic for children with ADHD. For example, the ingredient label will list red #40 or yellow #5.

Be Creative

“Wraps are easy and fun,” Forehand said. She also encourages getting creative with the fillings you put in your wraps. “Ham and cream cheese or taco meat and guacamole or turkey and Swiss are good, but use whole grain tortillas.” Most of the time you can be creative with ingredients you already have, it just takes a little bit of time and imagination. Anna Weeks, a nanny for three kids, says her favorite way to get creative with them is to make a healthy snack called ants on a log. “Since my kids are picky eaters, we like to mix things up at snack time,” Weeks said. “We usually make a treat called ants on a log, where we take a banana and put peanut butter and raisins on top.”

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Elder Fraud & Identity Theft Workshop: Monday, August 7, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday,
August 7, 2017
1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

Location:
Shelby County Extension
56 Kelly Lane
Columbiana, AL 35051

To Register Call:
Emily Hines, REA
205-757-5393

Emily Hines
Regional Extension Agent
Family Resource Management & Workforce Development
205.757.5393

 

Meeting Agenda

Elder Fraud (30-60 min.)
 Learn what elder fraud is,
 how to recognize financial scams
 and what you can do to defend yourself.

Identity Theft: (30-60 min.)
 Learn what identity theft is,
 how identity theft happens, and
 how you can deter, detect, and defend yourself from identity theft

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University) is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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Blood Pressure: What’s Your Number?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approximately 75 million people in the United States have high blood pressure. This means one out of every three people is impacted by this disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, heart failure and other heath concerns. These illnesses contribute to approximately 1,000 deaths each day in the United States alone.

These staggering numbers  explain why the CDC organized a campaign to raise awareness about the negative impact high blood pressure can have on your health.

May: High Blood Pressure Awareness Month

Each year during the month of May, the CDC joins forces with other health agencies to educate communities about the risk factors associated with high blood pressure.

One of the most important aspects of this campaign is to educate citizens on their responsibility to know and understand their individual blood pressure reading. This combined effort aims to combat the effects of this disease and ultimately save lives.

The Silent Killer

Donna Shanklin, an agent with Alabama Cooperative Extension, explained that high blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because it has no obvious symptoms until it is too late.

“The best way to protect yourself is to know and understand your blood pressure reading,” said Shanklin.

It is important to realize that high blood pressure can affect the young and old alike. Hayden Alford, a speech therapist, was diagnosed with high blood pressure at 27.

“While having a routine health screening, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure,” said Alford. “I had not experienced any symptoms and was caught completely off guard with my diagnosis.

“I now take medicine every day and with the advice of my doctor, I have made a few lifestyle changes that seem to help me manage this disease.”

Shanklin pointed out getting a blood pressure is easy and quick.

“Health care workers check blood pressure readings the same way for children, teens, and adults,” she said. “They use a gauge, stethoscope or electronic sensor, and a blood pressure cuff.

“Even so, more than 20 percent of people with high pressure don’t even know they have it.”

The Basics

To better understand why blood pressure is a good indicator of cardiovascular health, let’s start with the basics. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute defines high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, as a common disease in which blood flows through the arteries at a higher than normal pressure. Knowing and understanding the numbers associated with high blood pressure, as well as other risk factors, plays a critical role in the diagnosis, treatment and maintenance of this disease.

According to the American Heart Association, a normal blood pressure reading has a top number between 90 to 100 and a bottom number that is between 60 to 80. Shanklin stresses, “high blood pressure or hypertension puts your health and quality of life in danger. Left uncontrolled or undetected, high blood pressure can lead to other health issues.”

Shanklin suggests using a chart like the one below from the American Heart Association as a guide to understanding how to interpret your reading.

Be Smart With Your Heart

National Blood Pressure Month serves as an important reminder that awareness is the key to understanding and managing this important aspect of our health.

For additional information on high blood pressure and activities sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  visit the following links:

 Featured Image by Rob Marmion/Shutterstock.com

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Gluten-Free Lifestyle: Is it Good for our Health?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nowadays, you can’t go anywhere without hearing the words gluten-free. You may feel pressured to jump on the bandwagon diet that celebrities endorse.

Every grocery store, restaurant and many convenient stores offer a variety of gluten-free options to satisfy the growing popularity of this lifestyle. To understand what all the buzz is about, Dr. Onikia Brown, an Alabama Extension nutrition specialist, offers her insight and expertise on gluten-free living.

What is Gluten?

“Gluten refers to two proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt: gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin is responsible for most of the negative health effects,” said Brown. “Gluten is found in many foods, not just those grains because it helps to develop a chewy, satisfying texture.”

Most people tolerate gluten in their diet, but those who have Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy, will not be able to digest it properly.

“About 1 percent of the population has Celiac disease. People who have this disease have an autoimmune response to gluten proteins, where their immune system attacks the lining of the small intestine,” said Brown. Common symptoms include bloating, headache, joint pain and fatigue.

“A simple blood test that looks for the tTG-IgA antibody and a biopsy of the small intestine can determine if someone has Celiac disease,” added Brown.

“Less is known about gluten sensitivity, which affects as many as 6 percent of the population,” said Brown. Some experts believe gluten is not the cause of this condition, but rather FODMAPs. These are “short-chain carbohydrates found in many foods, including wheat, some fruits and vegetables, which can cause various digestive symptoms,” said Brown.

Foods to Eat and Avoid

Most everyone thinks that a gluten-free diet will help you lose weight. This is because foods that contain gluten have ingredients including added sugars, fats and preservatives. These ingredients are found in pizza, beer, desserts and snack foods, but there are also many high calorie gluten-free processed foods. Brown said it is important to read and understand food labels to make informed decisions about food choices.

Gluten-free foods to include in your diet are fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, beans, lentils, peanuts, seeds, tree nuts and fresh fish. Avoid licorice, foods that contain modified starch, matzo, imitation fish, soy sauce, bouillon cubes and brown rice syrup.

“The health of the gut bacteria directly impacts overall well-being,” said Brown.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Make Physical Activity Fun for Children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inactivity is becoming an epidemic among children. Children today are less active than they were just a few years ago because of many factors, including less participation in daily physical education classes at school. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend children get 60 minutes of physical activity five days a week for good health.

“Lack of exercise and not eating a nutritious diet are major reasons for the growing rate of childhood obesity in America,” said Valerie Conner, a regional food and nutrition agent with Alabama Extension.

Parents should limit time children play computer games or watch television.“Watching television or playing computer games for even five hours per week is linked to weight gain, and the number of children doing both has increased dramatically in recent years,” Conner added.

Motivating children to be more active not only improves their health and well-being now, but it also may benefit their health later in life. Encourage children to spend time each day in play that requires them to move physically. Health professionals agree that physical activity is essential to helping children reach and maintain a healthy weight and build stronger bones and muscles.

“Children who enjoy exercise may develop a lifelong, healthy habit of being physically active. If they stay active as adults, they will enjoy better health and may live longer than their less active peers,” Conner   added. Physical activity can decrease the risks of obesity, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease among adults.

Children who take part in weight-bearing impact sports, such as running, gymnastics and dance, have higher bone density than children who are not active or children whose major activity is not weight bearing, such as swimming.

Food provides children with the energy and nutrients they need to be active and grow. They need to eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids specifically water before, during and after active play or exercise.

“The key to motivating children to be active is fun. Most children take part in physical activity for enjoyment. When physical activity is fun, children are more likely to stick with it,” Conner said.

Parents can also motivate children by becoming a role model. Get the whole family involved in games, bicycling or other active play. If parents are active, their children are more likely to get involved and be active. Taking part in physical activities together will also increase the amount of quality time spent with children and build stronger relationships.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Five Commonalities in Healthy Marriages

No two people are exactly the same, just as no two relationships are exactly the same. However, the number one skill all couples must develop to ensure a long-lasting, healthy relationship is communication, according to an expert.

Debra Ward, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System regional agent in human development and family studies, has guided multiple couples to healthy marriages. Ward advises anyone seeking a healthy marriage, including those who are married, single or divorced.

According to Ward, a healthy marriage consists of a husband and wife that love God and have mutual respect for each another. Many couples who fall into this description share the following five common practices.

  1. Engage in effective communication

Effective communication begins with being open and honest about who you are and what you want.

“Practicing openness means always staying open and honest with one another, and opening your soul to your spouse,” Ward said. “This can be difficult because people typically pick and choose when they want to be vulnerable, but as a couple they have to open it all up.”

In addition to being open, couples also have to learn to receive communication by developing the art of listening to understand.

“Most couples do not listen to each other, they just talk at each other,” Ward said. “In ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,’ Stephen Convey says we should seek to understand before being understood. We cannot grow together if we do not learn to truly listen, and not just wait for our turn to talk.”

  1. Follow guidelines and boundaries

“Healthy relationships set guidelines and boundaries to follow, but also change them as needed,” Ward said.

As a couple, it is important to know each other’s limits. Having set guidelines and boundaries that are understood and agreed upon on both sides help couples remain on the same page.

For example, couples should set guidelines for how to communicate when there is a misunderstanding or how to resolve an issue.

“When conflicts arise, both people involved must have a desire to resolve it,” Ward said. “The conflict cannot be bigger than the person or the relationship, it is just a small obstacle in the course of life.

  1. Practice forgiveness

To be able to forgive and move on is not easy, but it is a vital skill for any relationship.

“Your spouse will mess up, slip up, and miss the mark from time to time and you will have to forgive them the way your Heavenly Father forgives you,” Ward said.

Couples should give each other grace and space to grow and improve.

“Do not hold onto hurt and pain or punish your spouse. Marriage is a process that does not happen overnight, becoming one flesh takes time.”

  1. Spend quality time together

By setting time aside to enjoy each other’s company, couples will learn more about each other and feel connected.

“During this time, each partner should be present in the moment, paying attention and observing the other. You can never know it all. You should be a lifetime student to your spouse,” Ward said. For desirable quality time, a couple seeking should speak life by saying kind and positive words to fill each other up.

“‘The 5 Love Languages,’ by Gary Chapman will help couples determine each other’s love language to give them love the way they best receive it,” Ward said.

  1. Make love a choice

This does not mean the feeling is gone forever, just that we are humans and we have bad days. To ensure those bad days do not become a pattern, a couple has to choose to continue practicing the skills of a healthy marriage.

For a person who is single, these skills can be learned and developed now in all relationships.

“For singles learn who you are first, and make sure you know what you want. If you do not know your purpose, it could be difficult to join together with someone else. Prepare yourself for opportunities, because eventually love will come around,” Ward said.

When a person is determined to commit to the above practices in any relationship, they will reap the rewards.

“There’s no handbook or college course on starting and maintaining a healthy relationship in life,” Ward said. “As human beings we were created to have relationships. Our ability to live and enjoy life depends on the relationships we share with other people.”

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pound Cake Recipes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunshine, cool breezes and beautiful weather call for open windows. What better for dinner guests to smell drifting down the road or through the neighborhood than a homemade dessert?

Since most fruits aren’t ripe for the picking, an old fashioned pound cake just might do the trick. There are so many types of pound cakes to choose from — there is a recipe for every occasion. If you don’t have a recipe that you love to use, these may make the favorites list!

Old Fashioned Pound Cake

Nonstick vegetable cooking spray

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon ground mace

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups corn-oil margarine

2 cups sugar

10 eggs

4 cups sifted flour

2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions: Coat a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray and dust with 2 tablespoons of flour. Sift together 4 cups flour, mace, and salt in mixing bowl. In another large bowl, cream margarine by beating until soft and smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating after each addition until light and fluffy. Separate egg whites from yolks.

In a small bowl, beat the yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Add vanilla to yolks and stir. Add the yolks to creamed margarine and sugar mixture. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes (5 minutes if beating by hand). Gradually add flour mixture, one-third at a time, to creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition. Then, beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Beat egg whites until stiff but still moist looking. Add egg whites to batter and fold in by cutting a spoon through egg whites and batter and turning batter over egg whites. Continue until all is thoroughly blended and no lumps of egg whites are visible. Do not beat or stir. Pour batter evenly into pan. Bake at 325°F for 1 ¼ hours or until done. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling on the rack. To serve, cut into 1-inch thick wedges.

 

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Nonstick vegetable cooking spray

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ cups corn-oil margarine

8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese

2 ½ cups sugar

3 cups flour

6 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon butter flavoring

Directions: Coat a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray and dust with 2 tablespoons flour. Combine 3 cups flour and baking powder and mix well. In a large bowl, cream margarine by beating until soft and smooth. Add cream cheese and continue beating until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar to creamed mixture, beating thoroughly after each addition. Continue beating until light and fluffy. Gradually add the flour to the mixture, about one-third at a time, blending thoroughly after each addition. Beat for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add vanilla, almond and butter flavoring and stir. Pour batter evenly into pan. Bake at 325°F for 1 ¼ hours or until done. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling on the rack. To serve, cut into 1-inch thick wedges.

 

From the “Auburn Cookbook,” a publication of Alabama Extension.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Broccoli Recipes Keep Diet Healthy and Flavorful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trying to eat healthy while still keeping your diet flavorful and delicious? Try these two broccoli recipes. They are sure to bring flavor and help you watch your waistline.

Broccoli Casserole

20-ounces frozen or fresh chopped broccoli

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

2 tablespoons grated onion

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

3 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup reduced fat mayonnaise

½ cup nonfat plain yogurt

3 egg whites

Butter-flavor vegetable cooking spray

1 cup grated reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese

Topping

¼ cup dry bread crumbs

½ cup grated reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

Cook broccoli as directed on package or boil 9-12 minutes (for fresh). Drain well. Combine soup, onion, lemon rind, lemon juice, mayonnaise and yogurt. Stir until well blended. Beat egg whites until foamy and add to soup mixture. Beat until well blended. Coat a 1 ½ – quart baking dish with the cooking spray. Layer half of the broccoli in the bottom of dish and cover with half of the soup mixture. Sprinkle half of the 1 cup of cheese over the soup. Repeat with the remaining broccoli, soup mixture and cheese. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 20 minutes. Combine bread crumbs with ½ cup cheese and sprinkle over hot casserole. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until topping is light brown.

Makes 10 servings. One serving ½ cup

Stir-Fry Broccoli

3 cups of fresh broccoli

2 teaspoons melted corn-oil margarine

2 teaspoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt-free herb seasoning

Butter-flavor vegetable cooking spray

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

¾ cup celery, cut in 1-inch pieces

¼ cup green onions, cut in 1-inch strips

Directions

Wash and soak broccoli. Cut into bite size pieces. Peel off the tough outer portions of stems and cut them into thin slices. Combine margarine, lemon juice and herb seasoning in a small bowl. Coat a large heavy skillet with cooking spray. Pour vegetable oil around the edge of the skillet. Tilt pan to coat bottom with oil and heat over high. Add broccoli and celery and stir-fry for 2 minutes, lifting and turning to keep them in constant motion. Sprinkle the margarine mixture over vegetables and toss gently until evenly coated.

Makes six servings. One serving ½ cup

These recipes and many others can be found in the Auburn Cookbook, a publication of Alabama Extension.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!