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Low Sugar Alternatives for Jams and Jellies

 

Strawberry Jam time is here and soon behind it will be blueberry, blackberry and then peach jam time. This year when you consider making jams and jellies think about using a low sugar alternative.  Don’t you want to taste the fruit more than the sugar? Jams and jellies are one of the simplest and most rewarding ways to preserve summer fruits and berries.  Even though most jams and jellies are very sweet, there are some excellent low- and no-sugar alternatives. “Regular” pectin recipes required the amount of sugar listed with them in order to obtain a satisfactory gel, but there are four methods to produce low- and no-sugar jams and jellies:
The first method is to use specially modified pectins. These pectins are labeled as “light,” “less sugar needed,” or “no sugar needed.” The box of packaged pectins will come with recipes that give options for using no sugar, less sugar, or sugar substitutes. Using these pectin-added methods allows you to store your reduced-sugar product at room temperature.

The second method is using regular pectin with special recipes. Some tested recipes are formulated so that the gel forms with regular pectin without needing to add the usual amount of sugar. Keep in mind that there is some sugar in the regular pectin. These recipes often use sugar substitutes for additional sweetening.  Splenda doesn’t need to be used as a sweetner for jams and jellies because it does not have a good shelf life.  To use it you would have to keep it in the refrigerator and usually it will only last about a month even under refrigeration.

The third method is a long-boil method. The fruit pulp is boiled until it thickens and resembles a jam, but these spreads will not be true jams with pectin gels. Sugar substitutes can be added to taste for sweetening these products.

The fourth method is to use gelatin as the thickening agent. This method allows you to control the amount of sugar that is added to the product. These spreads usually have the sugars from fruit juices that are used for the flavoring and sugar substitutes for sweetness. Jellied products thickened with gelatin will require refrigeration.

Jams and jellies made with traditional recipes using lots of sugar or by the first three methods listed above for reduced sugar options will require a short process in a boiling water canner to be kept at room temperature in a sealed jar. Once opened, they all require refrigerated storage.

Additional recipes and canning information can be found at the website of the National Center for Home Food Preservation, hosted by the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia: http://www.homefoodpreservation.com.

While there is an abundance of ways to make jams and jellies, keep in mind that following well tested recipes is your best bet for getting a successful gel. Try making jams and jellies using various methods to determine which you like best.

For more information and recipes for jams and jellies contact Angela Treadaway at 205-410-3696.

 

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

ServSafe Course in Shelby County

ServSafe Course

Date: May 24 & 29, 2018

Location: Shelby County Extension Office

56 Kelly Lane, Columbiana, AL. 35051

Contact: Angela Treadaway

Office: 205-669-6763

cell: 205-410-3696

email: treadas@aces.edu

Click here to register:https://ssl.acesag.auburn.edu/payment/fscert/registrationForm.php

 

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

Too early for tomatoes? By: Bethany O’Rear

 

 

Question:  I was out this weekend and noticed the most beautiful tomato plants at several stores in my community. I am ready to get my garden growing – can you tell me when I should plant?

Answer: Great question and quite timely, since many of us have spring fever! I have noticed the same beautiful plants at many retailers in my community, as well. And yes, it makes you want to get a head start on that delicious tomato sandwich.  However, you will need to proceed with caution.

The tomatoes that we currently enjoy are derived from tropical ancestors.  Therefore, while we have helped them adapt to more moderate conditions through plant breeding, they still need warm temperatures – air and soil – to successfully grow and produce.

To get your tomato transplants off to a great start, they should be planted in soils with a minimum temperature of 55-60˚F.  Why does the soil temperature matter?  Soils that are too cool can lead to root decay, poor (stunted) growth and disease.  So, how do you know if your soil is warm enough?  For vegetable seeds, such as beans or squash, just insert the thermometer to the depth of the seed planting.  However, for tomato transplants (or any vegetable transplant for that matter), you will need to check the temperature at a 4” depth.  Soil thermometers are available at many garden centers and hardware stores as well as online gardening sites.

You should also consider air temperature.  Tomatoes grow best with daytime temperatures of 70-80˚F and 60-70˚F at night.  Typically, our region warms to those levels during the month of May.  Now, we all know how Alabama weather fluctuates.  We can wear shorts and a t-shirt one day, and then have to don a sweater and jeans the next.  Let’s just say that you are trying to be the first in your neighborhood to pick a juicy fresh tomato, so you planted a little earlier than I recommended.  In the event of a cold snap (night time temperatures in the low to mid 30’s), your tomatoes will need some protection.  If you only have a few plants, you can cut the bottom out of milk jugs and cover each plant individually.  If that option isn’t practical, bed sheets can be used to cover several plants at a time.

So, what if you just can’t resist those gorgeous tomatoes at your local retailer?  I know, I know – the struggle is real.  Go ahead and purchase those plants.  Just be sure to plant them in a container that can easily be moved in and out of doors.

Garden Talk is written by Bethany A. O’Rear of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES). She is housed at the C. Beaty Hanna Horticultural and Environmental Center, which is based at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This column includes research based information from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities. Email questions to Bethany at Bethany@aces.edu or call 205-879-6964 x15.

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

The Problem with Privet By: Andy Baril

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past few weeks riding down our county roads, I have noticed the Chinese privet turning green.  Everyone will notice these plants because they will load the edges of the woods with large numbers of highly fragrant white flowers.  In the forest, privet occupies one million acres of timberland, and is the second most invasive plant.  Japanese honeysuckle wins the trophy in Alabama for being the most invasive plant in forested settings, growing on 2½ million acres.  Over the last thirty years as I have watched these two plants spread, it is my opinion that privet is the worst plant.  Honeysuckle is an edge plant that needs sunlight to grow.  Once the forest closes the canopy, honeysuckle tends to die back if it cannot grow in the tops of the trees.  Privet on the other hand will exist, as a wisp, in the understory of a forest just waiting for an opening.  Once the opening occurs, the wisp will quickly grow into a thick bush.  Without human intervention, that bush will grow into a fifteen-foot multi-stemmed tree.  As these bush-trees grow, they shade the ground.  Shade is the problem.

We have all pulled out little trees growing in our shrubs.  Nicely pruned yard shrubs have sunlight reaching through them to the ground, so any seeds that land below the bush have an opportunity to germinate and grow.  Whenever I trim my parents or my shrubs, I always have to check for baby trees.  Cutting the top of the tree does not kill the little tree.  It merely sprouts a new branch, within the bush, which turns up-ward and that branch becomes the new tree top.  Sometimes the tree is cutback so often that it can develop a thumb-size or larger stem at the soil surface down below the bush.  Many times this tree is impossible to pull out of the ground.  When the tree is too large to pull, take a small pruning saw or loppers and cut it off and herbicide the stump.  This happens in our yards, but rarely does this happen in the forest.

Shade is the issue.  Yard shrubs allow sunlight to penetrate them.  Privet grown in the woods does not allow sunlight to reach the forest floor.  Forest trees first filter out over half of the sunlight, then the privet bush-tree filters out the remaining sunlight.  Forest seeds that land on the ground under a privet bush-tree either get eaten by forest rodents, rot on the soil surface, or germinate begin to grow, then die in the shade.  Our creekside hardwood bottoms are highly susceptible to privet infestations.  Privet loves moist forest soils.  Because of this characteristic, many of our creek bottoms are becoming overgrown with privet.  Large 100’ tall oaks, yellow poplars, and cypress are being replaced with fifteen-foot tall privet forests.  Not only are the trees in danger of dying out, but the critters that depend on our native trees are also in danger.  If you have an established privet forest, it may take herbicides to defeat the invaders.

Contact your local Extension office for more information and help.

Garden Talk is written by Andrew J. Baril of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center, which is based at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  This column includes research-based information from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities.  Email questions to ajb0012@auburn.edu, or call 205 879-6964.

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

 

Managing Spring Pests

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring time brings warmer weather and blooming plants, but it also bring spring pests. Whether it is in the garden or at home, people needs to know how to deal with these pests.

“Just as spring weather conditions change considerably from year to year, so can the time to take action against certain insects,” said Dr. Xing Ping Hu, an Alabama Extension specialist of entomology and plant pathology.

Though the exact emergence date varies from year to year, pest emergence around homes in Alabama occurs in a similar order. The temperature-dependent biology of insects makes them better in tune with an ever changing climate.

With spring in full swing, live creatures are coming out looking for food and mates. A variety of bees and wasps are taking advantage of the first blooms to feed after several months without food.

Fending off Spring Pests

Hu says now is the time for home residents to control troublesome spring pests and to pest-proof homes. Homeowners can use these tips to manage spring pests:

  • Seal everything. Insects can squeeze through any gap, crack or opening. The time you spend sealing openings is an excellent investment in prevention of invaders later on.
  • Keep waste around the home cleaned, covered or sealed in tight containers. Promptly clean up pet excrement. Food left out is an invitation for insects seeking a quick snack and drink. Don’t leave clutter inside or outside where pests can hide.
  • Do not bring them in. Many insects are excellent hitchhikers. Inspect items like garden plants, bags of soil and mulch before bringing them in.
  • Minimize excess moisture and organic matter around your home. Check your home for damp areas. Create unsuitable environments to deter insects. Water plants early in the morning rather than the evening. The water will soak in and the excess will have a chance to evaporate.
  • Minimize hiding places. Clean up leaf litter, mow your lawn regularly and discard the clippings away from the home.
  • Minimize contact between house and landscape. Trim plant material that touches the outside of the home. Insects can crawl up a plant and easily onto your home.

Common Spring Pests

Carpenter bees

Carpenter bees are among the first early spring adventurers. They fly around collecting nectar/pollen from blooming ornamentals and buzz around homes looking for wood in which to lay their eggs. They do not eat wood, but do severe damage by boring half-inch wide burrows that can extend up to 14 inches. Carpenter bees bore into exposed dry wood, such as siding, the back side of fascia boards, porch window trim and porch ceilings. They also bore into decks, fence posts, swing sets and outdoor furniture.

According to Hu, if you had carpenter bees last year, you will likely have them again this year because carpenter bee females prefer to reuse the old galleries for the next generation.

Wasps

Hornets, mud daubers and yellow jackets are all under the category of wasps. Wasps help control other insect populations, but their stings are unwelcome. They are especially attracted to sweet food and drink. They build new nests in the spring. Hornets have open structure nests with visible hexagonal cells, often built under the eaves of houses and other cover areas. The nests resemble an upside down umbrella.

Yellow jackets build open nests surrounded by a papery covering. The are often found within wall voids and attics or cavities in the ground.

Mud daubers construct small mud nests in or around homes and under open structures.

Hu said spring is the time for wasp/bee inspection and nest removal.

“Remove nests when they are small and there are only a few wasps to deal with,” Hu said. “You may be able to knock a nest down and dispose of it before the queen lays eggs. You can use a can of wasp spray to kill the wasps before removal. Wear protective clothing for this job.”

Ants

Ants are generally around the perimeter of a home, but may invade homes for food and refuge on rainy days. Most ants are opportunistic when it comes to temperature and food. They are active all year with increased activity in the warmer months. Argentine ants are the most common species around homes, but fire ants and black carpenter ants are also common.

Argentine ants build colonies in moist, dark, undisturbed places like under plant pots. Fire ant mounds are built in lawns and flowerbeds. The large black carpenter ants live in rotting or moisture-damaged wood. Piles of sawdust-like shavings indicate their presence.

To control Argentine ants, begin with killing them at the colony site. Next, get rid of all potential nesting and food sources around the home. You can also treat them with an insect growth regulator (IGR). Most of the currently available fire ant baits work well when applied using label instructions. Bait should be fresh and less than a year old. Another choice is creating an insecticidal barrier between the perimeter of the home and the landscape.

Cockroaches

Cockroaches can carry disease-causing pathogens and contaminate households. They can trigger allergy symptoms in some people. The large cockroaches, including American and smokybrown cockroaches generally live and reproduce outside homes. These cockroaches may wander into homes but will not usually survive long inside. They are scavengers that love food waste and rotting organic materials.

“Your first defense is to protect and seal your home’s perimeter so that the cockroaches never make it inside,” Hu said. “Baits are proven to be effective in controlling cockroaches.”

 

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

4-H Highlights

 

ALABAMA 4-H AMBASSADORS “Trip to Washington”

Benefits for being an Ambassador for AL 4-H:

*Opportunity to further develop leadership, communication, and organizational skills
*Experience in planning, implementing, and participating in statewide educational, leadership, and
service-related programs
*Greater understanding of the 4-H Youth Development Program
*Being able to represent 4-H and Alabama as a 4-H Ambassador Delegate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Paper Clover Campaign for Shelby County

Tractor Supply Company stores across Alabama are joining with 4-H in support of local youth with the “TSC Paper Clover Campaign.” The campaign is a national in-store fundraising effort to benefit state and local 4‑H programming in each of the communities where a Tractor Supply Company store is located.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Day Camps 2018

 

 

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

Sunn Hemp: Grazing Option for Producers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunn hemp is a warm-season legume that producers are adding to their grazing and pasture management plans. Traditionally, producers do not use sunn hemp because of limited seed availability. Now, newer varieties, such as AU Golden and AU Darbin, are available for producers. These new varieties allow the plant to produce seed in moderate climates.

Characteristics  

Sunn hemp is a drought tolerant annual, and therefore producers would plant it each year. It can grow in soil with moderately low pH levels, ranging from 5.0 to 8.4. While sunn hemp tolerates low soil fertility, fertile soils greatly enhance its productivity. Sunn hemp grows best in sandy, well-drained soils. It is not tolerant of standing water or heavy, clay soils.

Planting Sunn Hemp

Dr. Leanne Dillard, an Alabama Extension forage specialist, said that soil temperatures must be fairly warm to plant sunn hemp.

“Once soil temperatures reach 65°F, producers can plant sunn hemp into a prepared seedbed,” Dillard said. “Producers should plant at a rate of 25 to 30 pounds of pure, live seed per acre, and inoculate with a cowpea type inoculant. Seeding depth is between 1/4 of an inch to 1 inch.”

According to Dillard, because it is a legume and because of its wide tolerance of soil pH levels, adding nitrogen fertilizer and lime is not necessary.

“Because sunn hemp is a legume, it does not require nitrogen fertilizer. While adding lime is not mandatory, it is, however, recommended,” Dillard said. “Producers should add phosphorus and potash based on soil test results.”

After planting, producers will see little above ground biomass production. However, by Day 60, plants can be 6 feet tall. To maximize the length of the grazing season, producers can stagger sunn hemp plantings (May and July). This allows for a higher quality forage throughout the grazing season and into early fall.

Grazing Management

Cattle, goats and sheep are the only livestock that can graze sunn hemp. Livestock can start grazing approximately 45 days after planting, when the plants reach 1 ½ to 3 feet tall.

Dillard said that the leaves are high in nutrition, and while the stems are of much lower quality, they provide the fiber needed for proper rumen function.

“To maintain forage quality, maximizing the leaf-to-stem ratio is important,” Dillard said. “A field allowed to grow until flowering may lose lower leaves and have reduced forage quality. To ensure forage quality, early grazing is important.”

At first, livestock may not find sunn hemp palatable, but within a few days they will develop a taste for it. Because of the high nutritional value, it works well in limit grazing plans in combination with warm-season perennial pastures. In this instance, producers should allow their livestock to graze one to three hours per day. Once the forage reaches 12 to 18 inches, livestock should rotate out of the field.

Dillard said that there are several things that affect the growth of sunn hemp.

“If sunn hemp is grazed too early, livestock will overgraze, possibly killing it. If plants are grazed too high, the livestock will break the plants and it will not regrow,” Dillard said. “Mowing or grazing sunn hemp to less than 12 inches can also prevent plant regrowth. Cutting it for hay or silage is not recomended.”

Possible Toxicity Concerns

While there is no evidence of the leaves nor the stems being toxic, the seeds could pose a chance for livestock poisoning. Sunn hemp is in the genus Crotalaria, which is characterized by presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the seeds. It contains only low levels of two to three different alkaloids.

Non ruminants are more susceptible than ruminants to acute toxicity from ingesting seeds. The consumption of a small amount of seeds, however, will not cause toxicity in livestock. Because of weight loss concerns, producers should not incorporate sunn hemp seeds into an animal’s diet.

Alabama Extension created a timely information sheet on sunn hemp. To view this document, click here. For further information, visit Alabama Extension online or contact your county Extension office.

 

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

Bean Dip or Spread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 cups cooked pinto beans

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup cooked green onions with tops

1/8 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed (optional)

1 or more drops liquid hot sauce, to taste

 

Drain beans and save 2 tablespoons of the liquid.  Mash beans until almost smooth.  Use a pastry blender, fork, electric blender, or food processor.  Add saved bean liquid, oil, lemon juice, garlic, and oinion.  Stir until well blended.  Season with pepper, dill weed, and hot sauce.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Makes 8 servings: One serving: 3 tablespoons.*One serving contains: 124 calories; 0 mg cholesterol; 250 mg sodium; 18 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein;  4 g fat or 27% of total calories.

 

To Vary: Use black beans, navy beans, or garbanzo beans (chick peas) in place of the pinto beans.  If using canned beans, pour the beans in a strainer, rinse with cold water, and drain thoroughly.  This will reduce the sodium content in canned beans.

 

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

Egg Safety

Easter eggs in nest on grunge wooden background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter is just a few weeks away, and many children will find colored eggs nestled side by side with chocolate bunnies in cheerful baskets or lurking in hiding places awaiting to be discovered.  Always handle eggs properly to prevent foodborne illness.  Consider the following when planning on buying eggs for dyeing and for keeping a few days before Easter.

 What should you consider when purchasing eggs?

Always buy eggs from a refrigerated case. Choose eggs with clean, uncracked shells. Don’t buy out of date eggs. The USDA grade shield on the carton means that the eggs were graded for quality and checked for weight under the supervision of a trained USDA grader. State agencies monitor compliance for egg packers who do not use the USDA grading service.

What does the date on the egg carton mean?

Egg cartons with the USDA grade mark must display a “Julian date”*, the date the eggs were packed. Although not required, they may also carry an expiration date beyond which the eggs should not be sold, but are still safe to eat. On cartons with the USDA grade mark, this date cannot exceed 30 days after the eggs were packed in the carton. Depending on the retailer, the expiration date may be less than 30 days. Eggs packed in cartons without the USDA grade mark are governed by the laws of their states.

How should eggs be refrigerated?

Refrigerate raw shell eggs in their cartons on the middle or lower inside shelf, not on the door, and away from any meat that might drip juices or any raw produce that might contact eggshells. Cover or wrap well any egg mixtures or leftover cooked egg dishes. For all perishable foods, including eggs and dishes containing eggs, allow no more than 2 hours at room temperature for preparation and serving, 30 minutes to 1 hour when it’s 85°F or hotter without refrigeration.

How long are eggs that have been refrigerated, safe to eat?

Raw eggs maintain their freshness for 4-5 weeks after purchase if kept refrigerated continuously.

How long are hard cooked eggs that have been refrigerated, safe to eat?

A hard cooked egg, if keep in its shell, can be safely refrigerated for up to one week.

I just realized I left the egg carton on the kitchen counter overnight. Are the eggs safe to use?

Temperature fluctuation is critical to safety. After eggs are refrigerated, it is important that they stay that way. A cold egg left out at room temperature can sweat, facilitating the growth of bacteria. Refrigerated eggs should not be left out more than 2 hours.

COOKING WITH EGGS

What is an adequate temperature to cook an egg?

Eggs you serve immediately at home need to be cooked to 145 degrees and if serving in a serving line in a commercial kitchen they must reach 155 degrees.  Please do not use raw eggs unless they are pasteurized in homemade ice cream because people can become infected with salmonella from raw eggs.  Mix the eggs with a little milk and sugar and heat quickly to 160 degrees to a custard state and then cool down and mix with your other ingredients when making homemade ice cream if you like that rich taste eggs give it.

How does Salmonella infect eggs?

Salmonella bacteria are found in the intestinal tracts of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and humans. Salmonella may be found on the outside of the egg shell before the egg is washed or it may be found inside the egg if the hen was infected. It is estimated that one egg in 20,000 eggs may contain Salmonella  Eggs contain natural antimicrobial substances in the egg white, and all eggs are washed and sanitized before they are packed. Egg recipes properly prepared in individual servings and promptly eaten are rarely a problem. Inadequate refrigeration, improper handling and insufficient cooking are all factors that have contributed to disease outbreaks. Salmonella is destroyed by heat. Eggs that have been handled and cooked properly should not cause human illness.

What usually causes salmonellosis?

Salmonellosis outbreaks are most often associated with animal foods, including chicken, eggs, pork and cheese, but have also been reported related to cantaloupe, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, orange juice and cereal among other foods. Human carriers play a big role in transmitting some types of salmonellosis. Salmonella bacteria can easily spread from one food to another and from  foodhandler to food if improper handwashing  is practiced.

The majority of reported salmonellosis outbreaks involving eggs or egg-containing foods have occurred in food service kitchens and were the result of inadequate refrigeration, improper handling and insufficient cooking. If not properly handled, Salmonella bacteria can double every 20 minutes and a single bacterium can multiply into more than a million in six hours. Properly prepared egg recipes served in individual portions and promptly eaten are rarely a problem. You can ensure that your eggs will maintain their high quality and safety by using good hygiene, cooking, refrigeration and handling practices.

Are eggs the only source of Salmonella bacteria?

No. Salmonella bacteria are widely found in nature and easily spread. The bacteria can be found in the intestinal tracts of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and people. While the egg itself may not be contaminated when you buy it, it can become contaminated from various sources, such as hands, pets, other foods and kitchen equipment, too.

When dyeing eggs for Easter, be careful not to crack them because bacteria can enter the eggs through the cracks.  Use food-grade dyes, such as commercial egg dyes, liquid food coloring or fruit drink powders.  Hard-cooked eggs should not sit out unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours.  Keep eggs refrigerated until you put them into Easter baskets.  Store eggs on a shelf inside the refrigerator rather than on the refrigerator door so they stay fully chilled.

A really good idea, if the kids plan to eat their eggs is not to use the hard cooked eggs for hiding but replace with plastic eggs and save the hard cooked one for them to eat later. If eggs are cracked or broken during the hunt, children may be disappointed when you have to throw them away.  Therefore, it is better to keep the hard cooked eggs refrigerated until the hunt.  Then, all can sit down and enjoy a safe Easter egg feast.

 

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

March is National Nutrition Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUBURN, Alabama—National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

Go Further With Food

“Go Further with Food” is the theme for 2018. Its importance is timely for many reasons. Whether you start the day off with a healthy breakfast or fuel before an athletic event, the foods you choose can make a difference. Preparing foods to go further at home can have a positive impact. Nutrition experts can also help people adopt healthier eating styles and reduce food loss and waste.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has sponsored National Nutrition Month since 1973. Each year it encourages consumers to eat better and to exercise more frequently to improve or maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Keys to Healthy Eating

The Academy says, variety, balance and moderation are the three keys to healthy eating.

No one food group can supply all the nutrients a body needs. Eating a variety of foods from several of the food groups to meet your nutritional needs each day is important.

“Most Americans eat way too much food,” said Tera Glenn, a regional agent in human nutrition, diet and health with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. The average portion size for most people equals two or three servings per meal instead of the recommended serving size.

Glen says appropriate portion sizes range from 1/3 cup to one cup, depending on the food and sometimes how it is cooked. If you don’t have a measuring cup to measure the food, use these tips as a quick reference:

  • 3 ounces (one serving) of meat, poultry or fish is about the size of a deck of playing cards or the palm of a woman’s hand.
  • One serving (1 ounce) of cheese is equal to one thin slice of prepackaged cheese or a chunk about the size of your thumb.
  • One serving of chopped green salad is a small handful of greens. A balanced diet, set up with the appropriate number of daily calories for your activity level, age and size, includes appropriate servings from each food group.

Eat in Moderation

What and how you eat may help you lose or maintain weight. Proper nutrition may help protect you from health problems later in life. It also allows you more flexibility in your food choices.

Contact your county Extension office for more information on National Nutrition Month.

 

Photo by Chinnapong/shutterstock.com.

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