5 Positivity Power-Ups

positivityWinter can be a difficult time for many people. The days are dark and cold, and it is easy to let that affect your mood. Try some of these positivity power-ups to lift your spirits as you push through to spring.

Positivity can provide a powerful boost to physical and mental health, productivity, relationships with others, and can even lead to an increase in lifespan. On the other hand, negativity can be harmful to physical and mental health, damage careers, and destroy relationships.

Consider focusing on these steps to increase the positivity in your life:


  • Keep it positive. Keep conversations positive and steer clear of comments that are negative or degrading toward others or yourself. If you catch yourself saying something negative, make an effort to change it to a more positive comment instead.
  • Tip the scales to the positive. Research has found that happy relationships have about five positive interactions to every one negative. While it’s ok to express concerns or frustrations, be sure to also express sincere words of appreciation or other positive words to keep the relationship in the positive.
  • Focus on what is right. While is isn’t possible to change how others act or have control over some situations, drawing attention to the things that are going right can help to set a more positive tone for interactions and increase positive emotions.
  • Make it personal. Genuinely caring for others sets positivity in motion that is often reciprocated. Examples of this might include listening to others with unconditional positive regard and providing support and encouragement.
  • Share the positivity. Making an effort to have positive thoughts and interactions sets off a chain of positivity that often amplifies positive emotions and can have a powerful positive impact on others. Examples of this might include doing something nice for someone, giving a compliment, or just writing down all the things that went well today.


Being positive can have a powerful impact on the world. Sharing an uplifting word or giving a small act of kindness can create a ripple effect of positivity. What will you do today to increase the positivity in your life?

This article was written by Naomi Brower, USU Extension associate professor, Weber County

How Full is Your Bucket: Positive Strategies for Work and Life by Tom Rath & Donald Clifton.


10 Tips for Better Tasting Fresh Produce

vegetable-tasteHow do you like your vegetables? If you’re looking for some delicious ways to get your family to eat more fruits and veggies, look no further!  We’ve got ten tips to help you pump up the flavor of your fresh produce.

We all know that fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. We’ve learned ways to make them less expensive and more convenient, but what if you or your family members just don’t like the taste? This week we offer 10 tips to help everyone learn to love the taste of fruits and vegetables.

  1. Try fresh fruits or vegetables with a healthy dip or dressing. Try hummus, salad dressing or yogurt.
  2. Increase the amount of vegetables in flavorful, well-liked foods. Try extra tomatoes and beans in chili, carrots in tomato sauce, broccoli mixed into mac and cheese and peas in minestrone soup.
  3. Add shredded carrots or zucchini to meatloaf, casseroles and quick breads.
  4. Try eating your vegetables first, when you are most hungry. Things really do taste better when you are hungry! Put out fresh vegetables with dip before dinner, or start the meal with a salad or vegetable soup.
  5. Shop in season—fruits and vegetables that are in season taste better. Think of a wonderful tomato from the garden in summer vs. the ones you can buy from the store in January. Farmers markets, roadside stands and your local grocery store are great places to get seasonal produce.
  6. Try preparing vegetables in different ways: raw, steamed, roasted, etc. The flavor and texture can be very different, depending on how you cook them. If you don’t like them one way, you might like them another!
  7. I especially recommend roasting or grilling vegetables. You get wonderfully sweet vegetables that are soft and creamy on the inside and crisp on the outside.
  8. Make eating vegetables fun by playing with your food. Try ants on a log, rainbow salad or pizza faces.
  9. Use a small amount of sugar when cooking bitter vegetables like kale or Brussels sprouts. This will help you become more familiar with the taste of vegetables, and you will learn to like the flavor more, even without the sugar!
  10. Just keep trying! We tend to like foods that we eat often or have at least tried multiple times. If you don’t like the taste of a vegetable today, it doesn’t mean you won’t like it the next time you try it!

This article was written by Carrie Durward, Extension Nutrition Specialist

How to Eat More Fresh Produce // 10 Easy-Peasy Tips

eat-more-veggiesLooking for some easy ways to eat more veggies and fruits? We have 10 tips to help you do just that.

In the last article, we learned about ways to make fruits and vegetables part of your diet on a budget. This is important, because fruits and vegetables are full of essential vitamins and minerals. They are also low in calories, but they have lots of fiber and water. This means that when we eat fruits and vegetables, they fill our stomachs, but don’t add a lot of calories. Besides cost, another reason people often don’t get enough fruits and vegetables is time or convenience. Read on for 10 tips to make eating fruits and vegetables fit into your busy lifestyle:

  1. Keep frozen fruits and vegetables on hand. They have the same amount of nutrition as fresh, and they are all ready to go—no cleaning or chopping needed!
  2. Cook fresh or frozen vegetables in the microwave with a little water for a quick side dish.
  3. Make extra vegetable soup and freeze it for days when you don’t have time to cook. Then just defrost in the microwave.
  4. Don’t have time to defrost soup? Open a can of low-sodium soup, add a bag of frozen veggies and serve as soon as it is warm.
  5. Plan ahead—clean and chop fresh vegetables when you have time so they are ready to go. Then you can use them in recipes, eat them with dip or add them to a salad or wrap. Just be aware that chopped veggies may go bad faster, but most chopped veggies will keep for a few days or a week.
  6. Pre-package those chopped veggies in small bags, and then you have an instant snack ready to grab on the way out the door. Think beyond carrot and celery sticks—try bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini slices.
  7. Fruits like oranges, apples and bananas make great food on the go without any additional work from you.
  8. Just like with the vegetables, you can also clean and chop fruit ahead of time. I like to do this with berries, melons and stone fruits like peaches. Add a little lemon juice to sliced fruit, and package them in small containers so they don’t get squashed in your purse or bag.
  9. Dried fruit makes a great on-the-go snack, and since it keeps for a long time, you can stash some in your car, desk or bag for when you are hungry and don’t have a snack packed. Just make sure you stick to the portion size—you only need ¼ cup.
  10. Fruits and vegetables can also be a great part of a quick breakfast—try fresh fruit on your cereal, or pack fresh fruit, yogurt and granola in a container or glass jar for breakfast on the go. Most people don’t think of vegetables at breakfast, but many vegetables are great with eggs in an omelet, scrambled or even just on the side. My favorite is avocado and salsa!

This article was written by Carrie Durward, Extension Nutrition Specialist

How to Afford Fresh Produce // 10 Tips

fresh-produce-costHow do you balance eating healthy with your grocery budget? We’ve got ten tips to help you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables without breaking the bank.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet because they provide essential vitamins and minerals. They are also high in fiber and water while low in calories, so they can help us feel full longer on fewer calories. The USDA MyPlate Guidelines tells us to make ½ of our plate fruit and vegetables, but many people find it difficult to put this into practice.

The three main reasons people give for not eating more fruits and vegetables are cost, time, and taste. This week we’ll talk about how to eat fruits and vegetables on a budget, and we will cover how to make fruits and vegetables more convenient and tastier in following weeks.

Many people think that fruits and vegetables are too expensive. However, it depends on how you think about it. Fruits and vegetables do tend to be more expensive per calorie, but less expensive than less healthy foods per gram or per portion eaten. This is because fruits and vegetables are higher in fiber, water, and vitamins and minerals, while being lower in calories. If you think about all of the nutritional benefits you get from fruits and vegetables, it is hard not to see them as a deal!

Here are 10 great tips to include fruits and vegetables in your diet at a lower cost:

  1. Shop in season! Fruits and vegetables are often on sale when they are in season, and usually taste better then too. Find out what vegetables are in season. 
  2. Some vegetables are available for a low cost year round, including potatoes, carrots, onions, and cabbage. Look for recipes online to find new ways to use these staples: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/main-recipes
  3. Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables when they are on sale. Frozen is just as nutritious as fresh, and they can keep 8-10 months in the freezer. Choose those without added sauces, fats, or sugar.
  4. Plan your meals ahead of time so fresh fruits and vegetables get used before they go bad. Learn more about meal planning
  5. To reduce waste, you can freeze leftover vegetables to add to casseroles or soups later, and overripe fruit is great in smoothies or baking.
  6. Canned vegetables are a great option, and are much more affordable than fresh or frozen. Choose fruit canned in 100% juice and vegetables that are low in sodium or have no sodium added. Stock up when they are on sale!
  7. When buying canned or frozen vegetables, try the store brand. The store brand is the same or a similar product at a much lower price.
  8. Check out your local farmer’s market. You can often find great deals on seasonal produce.
  9. If you find a great deal on fresh produce, try freezing or canning it for later use. Learn how from USU Extension
  10. Another way to reduce cost might be to grow your own produce. A backyard garden or patio planter can provide super-fresh produce all summer long. Visit garden.usu.edu for great resources.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to make fruits and vegetables more convenient and tasty.

This article was written by Carrie Durward, Extension Nutrition Specialist

Finding Motivation for Healthy Habits

healthy-habitsAre you working on healthy habits for the new year? We’ve got some tips on how to find the motivation you need to establish those healthy habits and meet your goals.

What Motivates You?

There are basically two types of motivation:  extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by external rewards such as money, fame, grades and praise. This type of motivation arises from outside the individual, as opposed to intrinsic motivation, which originates inside the individual.

Extrinsic examples: working to receive a bonus, gaining a reward for an accomplishment, receiving recognition, changing habits based on how you think others may see your body or losing weight to fit into new clothes or look good for a beach vacation.

Intrinsic motivation is defined as performing an action or behavior because you enjoy the activity itself. Whereas acting on extrinsic motivation is done for the sake of some external outcome, the inspiration for acting on intrinsic motivation can be found in the action itself.

Intrinsic examples: losing weight because your body feels better, working because you enjoy making a difference, reading a book because you are curious about the subject, etc.

Intrinsic motivation is much stronger than extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation can empower individuals to reach their goals and can help sustain an active lifestyle.

The Power of Habit

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your HABITS,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.”

-Mahatma Ghandi

Habit, combined with internal/intrinsic motivation, is where an active lifestyle begins. Before a new habit of physical activity can be born, individuals must believe that being active is good for them, then they must think about the benefits and build their intrinsic motivation. Next, individuals can vocalize their thoughts and establish goals and guiding principles for their actions.

Then comes action. Until action occurs, the belief is only a wish. Motivation comes from looking at the things you want and realizing what it takes to get them.

Strategies for Success

Here are some strategies to help you stay motivated and improve your wellness:

  1. Get support. Tell your family and friends you are trying to make changes, and ask them to encourage and support you. Invite them to participate in your healthy activities.
  2. Celebrate your successes. Recognize the changes you have already made and be proud of the person you are becoming.
  3. Focus on the benefits. Make a list of the possible positive outcomes and review the benefits of living an active lifestyle.
  4. Expect setbacks. Understand that there are times when you will falter, and this is normal.  Don’t expect perfection. Forgive yourself and move forward.
  5. Be patient. Remember that change is hard and it takes time to form healthy habits.
  6. Have fun! Do something you love. Add variety to your workout and your diet.
  7. Search for inspiration. Notice others who have made changes and be inspired by their hard work and dedication. Realize that you can do it too!
  8. Plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks ahead of time. Keep tempting foods out of the house/office.
  9. Schedule a workout time. Have a set time to exercise.
  10. Look for healthy options when eating out. Choose a meal that is nutritious with low calories.
  11. Eat small meals/snacks every 2-3 hours to keep you from getting hungry and to maintain blood sugar levels.
  12. Exchange processed foods for whole foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.
  13. Change your thinking. Think like an athlete.
  14. Always have your workout gear ready.
  15. Enjoy your favorite foods in moderation.
  16. Log/track your food and exercise.

And when you feel like quitting, think about why you started!

This article was written by Cindy Nelson, Utah State University Extension assistant professor

The Most Unusual Item in My Purse

Purse.jpgWhat do you carry in your purse? Beyond the wallet, keys, lip balm and phone, do you have anything out of the ordinary?  Adding a few simple things to your purse could make a big difference— in your life and the lives of those around you.

Seems like ladies’ purses have gotten bigger and bulkier over the years – a variable black hole for losing keys, phones, kid toys and who knows what else. You might be surprised at what all can fit in one of those things! Recently, I began packing something unusual in my purse and it’s starting to change my life.

Blank note cards, envelopes, a pen, and some stamps. That’s it. I think of it as my heart warmer kit.

You might be thinking: That’s it?  That’s changing your life? Think of it this way…when was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note or friendly card?  Did you like the way it felt to know that someone took time to think about you and then personally reach out to you? What a great opportunity to pay that feeling forward and bring some sunshine to someone’s day.

In this day and age of electronic everything, the personal touch of a handwritten note is being lost in the immediacy of technology. While sending social media notes may be efficient and can be personalized, it’s just not the same.

Don’t take my word for it.  Try it out for yourself.  A simple place to start is to to build your heart warmer kit. The notecards don’t need to be fancy or expensive.  Don’t forget the stamps.  I heard one time that “feeling appreciation and not sharing it is like wrapping a gift but not giving it.” Mailing or delivering the card is crucial to the process. Writing notes anonymously is even more fun but can possibly be a little more difficult to deliver.

Next, find a quiet moment to think about who has done something you appreciate or admire.  The more practice you get at tuning into opportunities to show appreciation, the easier this will be.  You’ll find yourself part way through a day seeing someone struggle or triumph and you’ll have a twinge in your heart and a thought come into your mind to send them a note of encouragement, congratulations or thanks for their efforts. That’s why my cards are now in my purse.  When I started, it was a “do this once a week” type goal for me; now it’s like I’ve primed the pump of appreciation and I see the need around me often.

The amazing part is that this little heart warmer kit I carry with me warms my heart as I write, then someone else’s as they read, and sometimes, mine again if I get a sweet note of appreciation back. And that’s why the most unusual item in my purse is changing my life.

This article was written by Rebecca Mills, Extension assistant professor in family consumer sciences and 4-H youth development

Winter Squash Wonder Pie

winter-squash-pieStill have some winter squash from the garden in your cold storage? Make good use of it in this delicious winter squash wonder pie. The kids won’t even realize they’re eating a vegetable!

Winter Squash Wonder Pie

Total preparation/baking time: 90 minutes (425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees F for 45 minutes)


  • 3 cups banana squash*               
  • 1 cup sugar or baking sucralose                
  • 6 Tbsp. maple syrup                                     
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk
  • Directions

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Prepare squash by washing, cutting and removing seeds. Cut the flesh into large cubes. Place the squash into a pot, adding enough water to cover the cubes. Boil for about 20 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.

Measure the squash, scraping flesh from the shell and squeezing out extra moisture, and place it into a blender. Add the remaining ingredients with the evaporated milk going in last. (If both cans of evaporated milk won’t fit, add one can, and blend until well mixed, move the mixture to a large bowl and mix in the last can of milk.)

Make your own crust, or purchase one from the store. To prevent spills in the oven, place your pie crusts on top of a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. The squash mixture is quite runny, so place the pie tins on the rack, and then pour the mixture into the tins. Carefully push the rack back into the oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees, baking for another 45 minutes. To check for doneness, pat the top of the pie with a butter knife. The pies are ready when the tops are mostly firm. Remove from the oven, letting them cool for about 10 minutes. Serve with whipped topping, and enjoy!

*One regular-sized banana squash will make anywhere from 4-6 pies. Premeasure the extra squash for future pies. It will keep for about 6 months.

This article was written by Marianne Clayburn, Duchesne County FCS Program Assistant

Original recipe contributed by Debbie Clayburn, Bridgeland, Duchesne County 2016

Six Tips to Rekindle the Spark in Your Relationship

rekindleYou don’t have to wait for February 14 to roll around to think about how to strengthen your relationship. Check out these six tips for rekindling the spark in your relationship. 

1. Find and make time to spend one-on-one with your partner.

Put distractions (i.e. cell phones) aside and enjoy the time and conversation with each other. Go on favorite dates and mix in new activities to explore new interests.

2. Share acts of love and kindness.

Valentine’s Day is coming up, but find ways all year long to share acts of love and kindness. Leave notes under pillows or in lunch boxes. Drop by each other’s work with a treat. Come home with a fun surprise or take your partner on a quick surprise outing for a drink or ice cream.

3. Think before you speak.

When it comes to arguments and differences of opinions, take a step back and reflect on how important the point of argument is. Is it really worth putting your foot down? Is there room for compromise?

4. Be a good listener.

When discussing matters, be a good listener. Don’t interrupt— wait for your turn to speak. When speaking, repeat what you heard to summarize what you understand that you heard. Then use “I” statements by saying “I feel [what feeling?] when [this happens] because [why you feel that way]. Even better when you can follow up with a request. For example, “I feel frustrated when you leave for the gym before you help clean the kitchen, because I am left to do all the work on my own and it takes the rest of my evening. Next time can you please help me quickly right after we are done eating?”

5. Make each other smile.

Capitalize on inside jokes to make special moments of connection. Replay the inside jokes occasionally during conversations, or in texts or emails. This should be sure to make you both smile.

6. Keep traditions alive— or create new ones.

Remember anniversaries and special dates with a date, a gift, or a note. Consider re-creating favorite activities yearly, such as an evening out to a Jazz game or a concert.

Find Out More

Looking for more ways to strengthen your relationship? Plan a date night and attend the Marriage Celebration on February 3 at Weber State University, or the Date Your Mate Celebration on February 10 at the Viridian Event Center in West Jordan.

This article was written by Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Salt Lake County

Ritualize to Revitalize in the New Year

ritualizeHave you ever thought of your daily routines as rituals? Learn more about ritualizing to achieve your goals for the new year.

January brings the season of fresh starts – our calendars start again, we set new goals, we reflect on the past and look ahead to the future. In many ways, we put a lot of pressure and expectation into the January’s of our life – pressure to create change and improve ourselves and our surroundings, pressure to somehow put off all our imperfections once and for all and become new, improved versions of ourselves.  By February.

Just like how the cold, harsh realities of winter often hit in January we, too, may experience harsh realities when we try and change our behaviors and put so much pressure on January.  What if we didn’t? What if we were able to streamline our goals, dreams and desires into a plan that didn’t create the cold turkey abruptness that 12:01 a.m. on January 1st represents in our lives? One tip that may just revitalize your 2017 is to consider the power of ritualizing in your life.

First, what is a ritual?  One historical context we have for rituals is religious ceremonies where certain words or actions are performed in designated locations, in particular orders, or within a set of specific guidelines.  One might expect the result of religious rituals to be things like deep connection or personal enrichment; you might think it’s the religious component of a “religious ritual” that makes us experience those feelings.  One stream of thought is that it’s actually the ritual and not necessarily the religion.

According to Borten, P. & B. (2016) “Ritual brings order, specialness, context and focus to our lives. The opening and closing, or the initiation and conclusion of a ritual aligns our intentions with our actions, and it sets the stage for the action to be as effective as possible.  Ritual grounds us in the present; it rescues us from dwelling on the past and worrying about the future.”  In this context, rituals don’t have to be connected to religion at all; the principle of order or repetition can be applied across many elements of our lives.

Another word you might relate to this concept is “routine” – you might have a “morning routine” or a “bedtime routine” where you do the same things in the same order every time. Think for a moment about what that process offers to you – predictability, stability or a sense of grounding.  Why do we have morning or bedtime routines in our families?  Do you find that it helps things run more smoothly if you’re able to find more enjoyment in your personal interactions and are less on edge or anxious?  In what other areas of your life would you like to have those feelings?

Creating a new ritual or fine tuning an already existing routine in your life will take focused effort – just like those New Year’s resolutions you have made in the past.  Consider the bigger picture of what you want to accomplish.  Maybe your goals are related to improved health or losing weight.  Break your dream or goal down into manageable steps including when you’ll implement those steps, and be intentional about carrying out the process.  By recognizing that your immediate action is related to a bigger intention or goal, you’ll find more motivation and satisfaction in completing the task.  Let’s face it, putting on the exercise clothes every day might feel like a drag until you start putting them on with the intentionality of how that process is connected to something so much bigger.

Remember, every day is the start of a new year!

This article was written by Rebecca Mills, Extension assistant professor in family consumer sciences and 4-H youth development

Borten, P. & B. (2016) Rituals for Living Dreambook & Planner. Available at: http://www.thedragontree.com


Family Favorite // Turkey Pot Pie

Did you save some turkey from your holiday dinners? Pull it out of the freezer and try it in this hearty pot pie your family is sure to love.

Turkey Pot Pie

  • 1 recipe pie crust dough
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, light and dark, diced or shredded (or both!)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 to 3 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth (more if needed!)
  • Splash of white wine (optional)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Frozen peas (optional)
  • Fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Begin by melting the butter in a skillet or Dutch oven. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and cook until the vegetables are translucent (a couple of minutes).

Add turkey to the mixture and stir. Slowly add flour, mixing it into the mixture. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly.

Mix in the broth, and then add a splash of wine, if desired. Add the cream, mixing well. At this point, you may stir in the peas, if desired.

Bring to a slow boil and allow the mixture to cook and thicken for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper, and fresh or dried thyme, to taste. Do one final taste at the end, just to make sure that it tastes wonderful!  

Next, pour the mixture into a deep-dish crust. Then, roll out crust, making it about 1 inch larger than the top of the pan you’re using. Place the dough on top of the pot pie mixture, and press the crust into the sides of the dish. Cut vents in the top of the crust.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden, and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven, allowing time to cool before serving. Enjoy!

Tech Tip

Recipe Gallery is a wonderful tool for organizing your favorite recipes! This app is a mobile recipe book, where you can do anything from adding recipes that are in your grandmother’s cookbook, to posting screenshots of recipes found online. With a simple click of a button you can even print off recipes, share them as a PDF through email, and so much more! The app also connects through different devices. Forgot your iPad at home? No worries, the recipes are on your phone, too! 

This article was written by Marianne Clayburn, Duchesne County FCS Program Assistant

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman