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Category: January 2020

Have a Fun, Active and Healthy Celebration!

Red Spherical Christmas Ornament ca. 2002

Celebrate the New Year with some simple steps for a fun, healthy, and active event!

  1. Add activities to get people moving and interacting.
  2. Festive foods are eye-catching. Fun shapes or a garnish make a dish pop!
  3. Make ice cubes with 100% juice or added fruit for flavor.
  4. Savor each bite. Add some flavor with a cultural favorite.
  5. Alongside party food favorites, have fruit kabobs, vegetable trays arranged for the party theme, and simple swaps like offering whole-grain crackers.
  6. Let’s dance! Get people up and moving with party games or dancing.
  7. Sneak in healthier options with simple ingredient swaps or try a new recipe.
  8. Keep it simple. That can save a lot of stress! Ask guests to bring a favorite food or have them plan party games. Don’t forget to get the kids involved!
  9. Shop smart to fit your budget. Make a list and shop grocery sale ads for savings. Don’t forget coupons for extra savings.
  10. Be an example for healthy habits. The kids are watching!



Food Science in Action Competition

The Institute of Food Technologists is sponsoring a Food Science in Action competition for K-12 students. The theme is “Serious Ink: Know What’s on Your Food Label!

To help improve food label literacy, students create a 1– to 5-minute video to help consumers understand food and beverage package information.

Be creative and original! Details can be found at

Entries are due May 11, 2020.


Taste and Smell Affects Eating Well

Photo: USDA Flickr

The ability to taste and smell food brings enjoyment to the eating experience. But as we age, those two senses can change for many reasons.

The human mouth has about 8,000 taste buds! But we lose taste buds over time. A decrease in saliva, medication side-effects, and poor chewing reduces how the flavor of food is sensed.

Your nose directly affects how food tastes. When you have a cold, your sense of smell is diminished and food tastes bland. When you breathe in odors, they dissolve in mucus and move to odor receptors. If odor receptors are damaged by air pollution, cigarette smoke, or viruses and bacteria, they may not be repaired.

If food tastes bland, avoid reaching for the salt shaker or add sugar to improve flavor. This can lead to other health issues such as high blood pressure, increased risks for heart attack and stroke, or even diabetes.

Always consult with a medical professional for any changes in taste or smell. This includes a dental checkup.

Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, December 2019


What’s Going On with Romaine Lettuce?

The Partnership for Food Safety Education held a webinar about romaine lettuce and recent foodborne illness outbreaks. This particular lettuce has be linked to at least two large recalls due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

There a many preventive steps in place in growing and handling fresh produce. Unfortunately, it is still subject to contamination.

It is still important to wash fresh produce before consuming. Bagged salads should not be washed as that could increase contamination risks.

If you have any food in a recall, never consume it. Return it to the store or throw it away.

For this webinar and other past webinars, see


Freezing Avocados

Avocados are great for guacamole!

Avocados have a short shelf life, so freezing them can preserve them for later use. According to the California Avocado Commission, they can be frozen halved, sliced or mashed. Here’s how.

Halved or sliced—Cut open the avocado, remove the pit and peel. Slice if desired. Brush all surfaces with lemon juice. Wrap tightly, including the pit cavity, and press out all air. Place in a resealable bag and remove air, then freeze. When ready to use, let it thaw and enjoy.

Mashed—Slice open the avocado, remove the pit and peel. Drizzle with lemon juice and mash to desired consistency. Scoop into a resealable bag and remove air, then freeze. When ready to use, let it thaw and enjoy!



Apples and Baking

Apples are a popular fruit for baking tasty treats. But not all apples a suitable for baking. Some are better for a healthy snack. With so many varieties, which ones are best for baking?

Tart, firm flesh varieties are best for baking. Some examples include Braeburn, Cortland, Honey Gold, Honey Crisp, Jonathan, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Haralson and Newtown Pippin. Mix together different varieties for a well rounded flavor and texture.

When baking a double crust pie with fresh apples, it is best to slightly pre-cook the apples before putting them in the pie crust. This helps the apples cook completely and helps the top crust to stick with the apples when they shrink. This prevents a large gap between the top crust and apples.

For more information about different apple varieties, see and


Kansas Ag Stress Resources

Farming and ranching brings many stresses along with the rewards.

To help cope with those mental and emotional issues, the Kansas Department of Agriculture has a new website of resources to help with mental health, support, and services.

This resource is a collaboration to support emotional and financial challenges. There is information for teens to aging adults. Suicide is at alarming levels and this can help reduce this trend.

Learn more at

Kansas Suicide Prevention Line

Crisis Text Line 24/7 Support
Text “HOME” to 741741


Sodium and Your Health

Reading Nutrition Facts label information can help control sodium intake.

While sodium helps make food taste good, for some consumers, sodium imbalance can be a serious health issue. It helps regulate blood pressure, water content in the body, and many other factors.

If sodium levels in the blood are low, this can be the result of diarrhea, vomiting, kidney disease, heart failure, diuretic medications, liver cirrhosis, and other factors. The symptoms the body gives include confusion, fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, muscle weakness, and other symptoms.

Consulting a medical professional is a priority. There are many issues that can lead to low sodium. Treatments can include medication, fluids through the vein, or limited liquid intake.

Learn more at


Start the Year with a Clean Fridge!

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions, but will they happen? Here’s one you can do! Clean your fridge! And it’s a great way to inventory the contents.

  1. Remove the food and keep it in an ice chest or another refrigerator.
  2. Unplug the fridge. Clean underneath and behind the appliance to remove dust.
  3. Remove drawers and shelves. Let glass shelves adjust to room temperature so they don’t crack. Wash with hot, soapy water. Use a toothbrush to get into tight spaces.
  4. Wipe down the interior walls of the fridge and door shelves.
  5. Dry all surfaces with a clean towel or paper towels.
  6. Sanitize with a solution of 1 tablespoon liquid bleach in 1 gallon of water.
  7. Plug the fridge back in and put shelves and drawers in their spots.
  8. Restock the fridge and clean any containers and bottles. Toss anything past its prime and make a shopping list.

Between cleanings, wipe up spills as they happen to keep the fridge as clean as possible.

Sources: and


Alternative Proteins

Traditionally, when consumers think about consuming protein, they choose animal protein sources such as meat, poultry or fish products. In today’s cuisine, the sources of protein have changed.

Plant protein foods are becoming mainstream to take up space at some dinner tables. Soy foods have been around for years. Other plant sources include peas, wheat and others. New ground products include soy leghemoglobin or beet juice to give them the red color and “bleed” like animal meat. In some products, methylcellulose is used to bind the ingredients together to be made into “meat-like” shapes. There are many ingredients in these products and vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

These products give consumers choice. They still need to meet food safety regulations and still must be handled safely by the consumer. Learn more at