The Rice is Right!

Cook Rice in a Pressure Cooker

Rice is a delightful grain because there are a multitude of ways to prepare it. Along with preparing rice in a rice cooker, on the stove, or in the microwave, did you know you can also prepare rice in a pressure cooker?

Rice is a simple, delicious, and versatile grain. It can be used as a side dish, as a base for meat, to add hardiness to soups, and to add texture to desserts and custards.

Watch this video from USU Extension to learn how to prepare rice in a pressure cooker! While you’re at it, check out the USU Extension YouTube channel for hundreds of other videos filled with tips, tricks, and resources to help you live well.

For more information on rice, here is a fact sheet that highlights the different kinds of rice, the best ways to prepare it, and how to store it properly after it’s been cooked.

This article was written by Leah Calder, a USU Extension Marketing Assistant.

Fiber, a Great Friend

Fiber Blog

Grandma always knew that “roughage” was good for you. She told us to eat our apple skins and lots of vegetables. Grandma was right. Research is proving that fiber is extremely important for good health. Fiber is the indigestible part of a plant. It is not absorbed into your body. Fiber is found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans and nuts. Fiber keeps your intestines working and helps prevent many diseases (Mayo Staff, 2012).

Two kinds of fiber — soluble and insoluble:

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber tends to be inside foods, such as the flesh of apples and the grain of rice or wheat. In your stomach, soluble fiber binds and dissolves with liquids to form a gel that makes you feel full as it slows digestion, letting your body absorb more nutrients from the rest of your food. Soluble fiber can prevent cholesterol buildup and slows down the absorption of sugar into your blood stream, being a plus for diabetics (Mayo Staff, 2012).

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber is the bulk as it absorbs liquid in the stomach; this pushes waste down and out of your system. Insoluble fiber is usually found in the skins and outer parts of foods. It may be more tough or chewy. This bulk helps clean out your systems and passes foods through your digestive system. Both types of fiber are beneficial to your health (Mayo Staff, 2012).

The old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has research proving the truth in this proverbial statement. Research presented by the American Heart Association, the Mayo Clinic and Journal of Stroke Prevention cites the value of increased fiber in our diets. (Threapleton, Greenwood, & Evans, 2013). One apple a day can increase your daily intake by 5-7 grams of fiber.

Most American’s only eat about 10-15 grams of fiber a day. Most people should eat somewhere between 20 and 40 grams of dietary fiber per day. The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine recommends that men consume 38 grams and women 25 grams. After the age of 50, men only need 30 grams and women 21 grams (NASIM, 2002).

Your best choices for fiber should include whole grain foods, vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts. Start with a breakfast of whole grain cereal, lunch with plenty of vegetables, and enjoy an apple or fruit for a snack. Fiber helps you feel “full” and can help decrease the amount of carbohydrates you choose.

If you are not used to eating a lot of fiber, increase the amounts gradually. Allow your body a few weeks to get used to a “fiber” change.


Mayo Staff, (2012). Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. Retrieved from:

(NASIM) The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, (2002). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Retrieved from:

Threapleton, D., Greenwood, D., & Evans, C., (2013). American Heart Association Journal of Medicine. Dietary fiber intake and risk of first stroke: A systematic review and meta-analysis; and stroke. Retrieved from:

This article was written by Leah Calder, a USU Extension Marketing Assistant. It was taken from an earlier article written by Carolyn Washburn, Extension Professor

carolyn-washburnCarolyn Washburn is a family consumer sciences agent for Utah State University Extension. Her responsibilities include financial management education, food safety and nutrition, healthy family relations, emergency preparedness and working with youth. Her goal is to help individuals and families become self-sustaining and resilient by being financially prepared and healthy for any emergency. She serves on the National Disaster Education Network and has just completed the new food storage manual for USDA. Her most cherished award is America’s Promise, awarded by Colin Powell.

The Word on Bird Flu, It Might Affect You!

Bird Flu Blog

There has been quite a buzz about avian influenza, commonly called “bird flu”, but could it really affect you? If you have backyard chickens, then the answer is yes. Here are 5 quick tips from USU Extension to keep your chickens healthy and happy. Good cluck!

1. Do not co-mingle chickens and other poultry with waterfowl.

Waterfowl are the natural hosts of bird flu. Even though waterfowl may not show signs of illness, they can still be carriers of the flu.

*Counties adjacent to large bodies of water where migrating waterfowl tend to congregate are at greater risk, including Box Elder, Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Juab and Utah counties.

2. Provide clean drinking water for your chickens.

Water for your chickens should be clean and chlorinated. If possible, use water from a culinary source. Never allow your chickens to have access to swamps, ponds or ditches because water from these sources could easily cause illness.

3. Avoid visiting neighbors’ chicken flocks.

You never know if your neighbors’ chickens are sick and infected. Although their chickens might seem healthy, sometimes it takes a little while for symptoms to appear.

4. Use dedicated footwear and outerwear when caring for your flock.

You never know when you might come in contact with viruses. To stay on the safe side, only use footwear and outerwear that is dedicated to caring for your flock. To make this easier, leave boots and coveralls in an adjacent covered container.

5. Keep chickens in an escape-proof enclosure.

Chickens can stay in backyard runs or coops. Make sure they are completely covered with wire or netting. Housing your flock in an enclosed space will keep them away from other birds that might contaminate them.

For further information, a recorded presentation of a recent webinar on avian influenza presented by David Frame and Warren Hess can found here.

10 Steps to Healthy Success

10 Steps to Healthy Success

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? With summer soon approaching, this is a great time of year to obtain healthy habits and establish a healthier lifestyle.

Nutrition and health can seem daunting. Often it is hard to know where to begin trying to improve. Big changes are associated with big steps.

Luckily, has provided a series of more than 35 nutritional education tips. Each focuses on a different topic and provides 10 simple steps to accomplish the goal.

The best part about the series, besides the fact that they are easy to follow, is that each one is PRINTABLE. Putting them on your fridge makes them easier to see, read and DO!

These helpful tips are a great starting point for individuals beginning their climb toward healthier living. Visit to see the series and find the challenge that’s best for you and your family!

6 Sweet Tips for a Happy Relationship with your Partner

Strengthen Blog

When it comes to relationships, it might seem like we should just know how to build a happy one, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder of some of the basic tried and true principles that can take all relationships to a happy place. To make your relationship stronger, take the challenge to make each one of these happen regularly.

1. Communicate. Checking in with each other every day and sharing your joys and frustrations will help you strengthen and maintain your friendship.
  • Take 10 minutes today and ask your partner an open-ended question such as his or her current favorite hobby or television show or a favorite vacation memory. Any open-ended question is great as long as you are taking time to reconnect and listen to your partner.
2. Be positive. Even on tough days we can make the choice to be positive and to build up and praise others.
  • Take time today to share something you appreciate about your sweetheart.
3. Take time to play. Having fun together helps us to remember why we chose to be together in the first place and builds our friendship that will help us to be strong, even in tough times.
  • Set a date to do something fun together. It doesn’t have to elaborate or even cost money. For example, you could play a board game or build a snowman together.  If you have kids but no babysitter, choose an activity you can do together at home after the kids are asleep. Consider attending a USU-organized date night—a fun night out without any of the planning! (See the USU calendar for healthy relationship activities in your area.)
  • Bonus challenge: Make a list with your spouse of things that sound fun to do together so you can refer back to it in the future.
4. Build memories and rituals together. Traditions and rituals add meaning to our lives, create memories and help us appreciate the small moments together.
  • Take a moment to consider what traditions (celebrating special occasions, holidays, etc.) or daily rituals (ways to say hello/goodbye, bed time routines, etc.) you have. Is it time to add or change something that can help you get closer as a couple?
5. Discuss expectations and resolve conflicts when they are small. Everyone has disagreements but when we communicate with love and respect and discuss frustrations when they are small, we can usually resolve conflicts much more easily than after they build.
  • When discussing a frustration with your spouse, use “I” statements. For example, fill in these blanks, “I think…(insert your concern),  I feel…(share the emotion you feel because of this), and I want…” (share what you would like to see happen).
6. Be affectionate. While we all have different ways we’d prefer to express and receive love, all relationships flourish in an atmosphere of love and affection. We can show that we care in many small ways such as leaving a note, sending a text just to say hi, holding hands and kissing hello and goodbye.
  • Strengthen your relationship today by showing affection to your sweetheart in some way.
Take one small step today toward the marriage you would like to have this time next year!

Author – Naomi Brower
brower, naomiNaomi Brower is an Extension Associate Professor for Utah State University. She has a Masters of Family and Human Development from Utah State University. Often called the relationship guru by friends, Naomi is passionate about helping others improve the quality of their lives through creating and strengthening their relationships with others.


Get Ready to Garden!

Get Ready to Garden Blog

The first day of spring is right around the corner. This means that the growing season is right around the corner too! Get ready to garden and enjoy the beautiful weather with these helpful resources from USU Extension.

Author – Taun Beddes, USU Extension Horticulturist

With the growing season fast approaching, many people are anxious to work in the yard. This can be fun for some, but overwhelming for those new to gardening, concerned about major pest or disease problems or installing a new landscape.
Fortunately for gardeners, Utah State University Extension offers free or low-cost resources to assist in horticulture and many other areas and has offices that serve every county in the state. Additionally, recommendations are research-based and nonbiased.
For someone new to gardening, getting started can be confusing. USU Extension offers help with free, easy-to-follow fact sheets for commonly grown vegetables. The fact sheets include information about when to plant, how to prepare the soil, how to fertilize, harvest times and solutions to common problems. Fact sheets can be found at: Another resource on vegetable varieties for the home garden is available at:
Deciding which fruit tree to plant can be difficult. Mike Pace, USU Extension agent in Box Elder County, home to Utah’s famous fruit way, has built a web page with fruit varieties and descriptions that can be helpful to home growers. It is available at:
During the growing season, it is common to find landscape or garden plants that look unhealthy, but it can be difficult to determine what is wrong. Local USU Extension offices are available to assist, and USU Extension also has a pest and disease diagnostic lab with scientists who can diagnose plant samples mailed to them. They charge $7 per sample to cover costs. Click for information. Another service the pest lab offers is their free, email Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Advisory with updates on how to manage pests and diseases in fruits and vegetables. Their pesticide spray recommendations include lower-risk and organic options. To subscribe, visit and you will receive email updates throughout the growing season. They do not share email addresses.
Soil is one of the most neglected but important considerations when starting a new yard or garden. Soil testing can determine if soil in a particular area is suitable for growing crops and landscape plants. Testing is inexpensive and useful in identifying or eliminating soil as the factor in an area where plants consistently struggle. The USU Analytical Laboratory can test soil for such things as nutrient levels, soil texture, salinity and pH. Visit the website at: The form for soil testing can be downloaded at: The routine test can be very beneficial for homeowners and hobby gardeners.
Another common concern many gardeners have is selecting the right trees for their landscape. An online, interactive program is available at  The program allows users to list their desired characteristics, and a list of compatible trees with pictures is then generated.
USU Extension also offers information in many other areas including food preservation, finances and youth development. Visit for further information.

Fun Money Apps for Kids? Yep, They Exist!

Finance Jazz

In this age of technology, smartphones, apps and online games have become the norm for children, with thousands of options to choose from. While many apps offer little educational value, did you know hundreds of apps out there can help your children learn while playing?

Check out this video clip from Channel 5 to learn about finance apps that teach kids about money and savings. Though financial topics can be overwhelming to children, these apps make learning about money simple and fun!

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 2.10.35 PM

Spice Up Your Life!

Spice Blog

We all know how easy it is to buy taco seasoning and other spices at the store. When you need flavor in a hurry, the quick fix is packaged spice mixes. Have you ever thought about making your own?

Although it may seem intimidating, making spice mixes and seasonings at home is easier than you think! Along with the financial benefits of making your own spice mixes, homemade blends offer more flavor without any preservatives, fillers, or added sodium.

Click here to find easy recipes for your own seasonings so you can spice up your life!

Bully Proofing Your Child

Author – Carolyn Washburn, Extension Professor

Bully-Proof Blog

One of parents’ biggest fears is having their child be bullied. Although bullying is a major issue in today’s society, all parents have the ability to empower their children and help make them resilient against bullying.

No one wants to have their children bullied. Yet one out of every four youth report that they have experienced being bullied. More than 160,000 U.S. students stay home from school each day for fear of being bullied. Bullying is often listed as a major cause of depression and suicide.

How do parents combat this behavior of threats, spreading rumors, verbal and physical attacks, and social media cyberbullying? One strong approach is to make sure you are building strong self-esteem and values into your children. Teach them to respect themselves and others. Spend time talking and listening to your child. Encourage youth to find good community support programs and activities such as 4-H community programs. If you are interested in finding additional things to help children build self-esteem, visit the Search Institutes website and learn about their Developmental Assets. Search Institutes materials can provide many ideas and resources that can help in building strong, resilient youth.

Self-esteem is built by experiences, relationships, and how people feel about themselves. Having successful experiences and overcoming unsuccessful experiences builds positive self-worth. Assertiveness is a positive way of expressing yourself and gaining self-respect.

These words: self-esteem, self-worth, self-respect are what we believe about ourselves. At times, they may fluctuate with our life experiences, but rebuilding is important for happiness and success. Strong communities have strong families and strong youth. Strong youth have good self-esteem. It is important!

carolyn-washburnCarolyn Washburn is a family consumer sciences agent for Utah State University Extension. Her responsibilities include financial management education, food safety and nutrition, healthy family relations, emergency preparedness and working with youth. Her goal is to help individuals and families become self-sustaining and resilient by being financially prepared and healthy for any emergency. She serves on the National Disaster Education Network and has just completed the new food storage manual for USDA. Her most cherished award is America’s Promise, awarded by Colin Powell.

7 Factors That Prolong Your Food Storage Supply

Author – Carolyn Washburn, Extension Professor

Food Storage 2 Blog

Getting in the habit of storing food has many benefits. These benefits range from financial savings to having a balanced diet throughout the year. Above all, learning how you can get the most out of your food storage will help eliminate stress and ensure peace of mind.

Storing food is a traditional, domestic skill that has been used for thousands of years in time of plenty to prepare for times of famine or when food is in short supply. Wheat found stored in vessels in the tombs of Egypt was still edible after 4,000 years. Regularly, food is preserved and stored to be eaten from harvest to harvest as families strive to be self-sustaining. It is interesting to note that food is stored by almost every human society and by many animals. Maintaining a food supply often ensures savings of time and money and provides safety and security in time of need. Storing food has several main purposes:

  • Preserves harvested and processed food products for later use
  • Provides a balanced diet throughout the year
  • Prepares for catastrophes, emergencies and periods of food scarcity or famine
  • Religious reasons
  • Peace of mind
  • Provides self-sustainability

Factors that affect food storage:

Temperature: The temperature at which food is stored is very critical to shelf life. United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, states that for every 10.8 degrees in temperature rise you decrease the shelf life of stored food by half. The best range for food storage is a constant temperature between 40-60 degrees. Avoid freezing temperatures.

Moisture: It is recommended to remove moisture when storing foods. For long-term storage, foods should have a 10% or less moisture content.

Oxygen: Foods store best when oxygen free. Removing oxygen will prevent oxidation of compounds in foods. Ways to remove oxygen:

  • Displacing oxygen – Purge air from product with an inert gas (nitrogen). Dry ice is often used giving off carbon dioxide gas, which displaces oxygen.
  • Oxygen absorber – Air contains about 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, leaving about 1% for the other gasses. If the oxygen is absorbed, what remains is 99% pure nitrogen in a partial vacuum.

Light: This form of energy can degrade the value of foods. Store food in dark areas.

Container: Store foods in food-grade plastic, metal or glass containers indicating that the container does not contain chemicals that could be transferred to food and be harmful to your health. For best storage life, use containers with a hermetic (air tight) seal. Containers with air tight seals are:

  • #10 cans
  • Sealable food storage buckets
  • Sealable food quality metal (lined) or plastic drums
  • Foil pouches
  • PETE bottles (for dry products such as wheat, corn, and beans)

The containers listed above, used with oxygen absorber packets, eliminate food-borne insects and help preserve nutritional quality and taste.

Warning – Botulism poisoning may result if moist products are stored in packaging that reduces oxygen. When stored in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers, products must be dry (about 10% or less moisture content).

Infestation: Several common insects infest home-stored dried foods.   To control with cold treatment, put infested items in a deep freeze (0 degrees) for three to four days which will kill any live insects, larva and eggs.

Shelf date is the “best if used by” date, meaning that you are getting most of the original taste and nutrition. The “life sustaining shelf life” date means the length of time that food is still edible.

carolyn-washburnCarolyn Washburn is a family consumer sciences agent for Utah State University Extension. Her responsibilities include financial management education, food safety and nutrition, healthy family relations, emergency preparedness and working with youth. Her goal is to help individuals and families become self-sustaining and resilient by being financially prepared and healthy for any emergency. She serves on the National Disaster Education Network and has just completed the new food storage manual for USDA. Her most cherished award is America’s Promise, awarded by Colin Powell.