5 Quick Tips for Managing Money as a Couple


These 5 tips will help you manage money as a team!

The Cost That Money Can Have

Successful couples have learned to blend their money styles by being in harmony with the way they build a budget and spend money. So how do they do it?

Everyone has a money style. Many people love to save, others enjoy spending and unfortunately some just don’t want to be bothered with thinking about money, and they are the avoiders.

Often spouses are opposite in their habits, which can work well; but unless they can discuss it and make a successful plan, it can lead to arguments and dissatisfaction in the relationship.

It may have been learned from parents or developed later in life, but everyone values money differently and has a preferred style for handling it. No style is right or wrong, but how it is handled is critically important.

Some regard money as a security and have a desire to save and protect it. Some enjoy spending money because it makes them feel good, and still some don’t want to even open an envelope that might have a bill inside.

Unless you understand how your partner values money, it can cause frustration in a relationship.

When a couple fails to communicate about how each person values money and there is not a financial plan, arguments often arise. Many unhappy marriages and divorces are a direct result of financial issues.

A strong relationship will put the value of money into what makes family members happy and content. Money will be used for meeting goals and planning ahead for the future. When you can build a financial plan, you will have the freedom to work on areas of need for your family.

Consider these tips for building a financial plan:

1. Discuss how you value money and what is important (saving, spending or not discussing it). Visit Olivia Mellan’s website if unfamiliar with money styles. Take the quiz at https://www.moneyharmony.com/moneyharmony-quiz.

2. Discuss your family goals for this year, the next five years and then for future needs and retirement.

3. Make a financial plan (a budget) where you can set aside money to save and money for charity. If things are tight, start where you can. Most financial planners will encourage you to set aside 10 percent for each of these; however, you can begin with less. Even a little can make a difference because it sets a precedence.

4. Set up a plan for your family needs and wants and review it monthly.

5. Be sure to set aside weekly activity nights for the two of you. Spending quality time together can help you discuss your financial plans in a more direct and positive way.

Couples with strong relationships have developed money management skills that work for them. For example, they set aside time each month to go over finances, talk about how they value money and set goals.

Generally one of the individuals will be the money manager; however, both should discuss and look at the plans each month. Both partners must be happy with the spending arrangement.

Understanding the value each person places on money helps build respect in a relationship. Both partners should have input about where the money goes.

Relationships are fragile, and money is a major issue. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have, but how you work as a team to plan and be content with your financial decisions.

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor

Ask an Expert // How to Avoid Investment Fraud

Avoid Ivestment Fraud Pic

Follow this advice to avoid being hornswoggled!

Mess-Free Investments

Research statistics on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) website show that eight in 10 individuals have been solicited about potentially fraudulent investment offers.

Con artists are successful because they eliminate rational behavior and prey on your emotion.

Financial fraud flourishes in Utah because of the strong entrepreneurial spirit and residents’ tendency to trust others. In order to avoid falling victim to a con artist, it is important to recognize common tactics and know where to go for help. (FINRA Foundation, 2016)

Common tactics of con artists include:

Reciprocity:Free lunch or dinner seminars, books or gifts are often used to guilt investors into giving an investment adviser money. A free lunch is not really free if you give away your life’s savings.

Affinity fraud: Con artists typically take advantage of commonalities they share with unsuspecting investors. They may claim to be part of your religious group, professional organization, an alumnus of your university or have children in the same school. Be cautious when someone tries to convince you that an investment decision should be based on a similarity.

Source credibility: Does the investment professional drive a very expensive car? Is he/she wearing very nice clothing or trying to impress you with credentials? Many times con artists will use their surroundings to lead an investor into believing they are credible.

Scarcity: Limited time offers on land, gold, securities and commodities are designed to pressure you into making a quick decision. Be cautious of secret deals or when they tell you not to share details of the opportunity with anyone.

Phantom riches: Some professionals will promise you extremely high rates of return to support a lifestyle that you dream of attaining. The average rate of return in the stock market is 10 percent; any promised return above and beyond the market average should be a red flag.

When in doubt, check it out. Before you invest:

Check out the person: FINRA keeps a detailed database of an investment professional’s history, credentials and licensure suspensions. To investigate a prospective investment professional, go to
BrokerCheck by FINRA.

Research the professional designations: Investment professionals can receive a number of licenses and designations. To understand licensure acronyms at the end of an investment professional’s name, go to: Investors Professional Designations.

Investigate the product: Transparency is critical. Company filings and event reports should be available if the investment has been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Search the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR) database at the SEC for information on 20 million investments.

Investment fraud is very common and costs consumers $50 billion a year. If you have been a victim of fraud, contact FINRA, the SEC or the Utah Division of Securities for help. Your experience could protect and save future investors from falling prey to fraudsters. For more information, call the Utah Division of Securities at 801-530-6600.

Top 10 // Easy Ways to Be Healthy

Top 10 Health Tips

Being healthy isn’t hard! Give these tips a try and see for yourself.

Swip Swap

These top 10 swaps are easy ways to kickstart a healthier lifestyle without completely changing your life!

Big Bites on a Little Budget shared 8 of these amazing tips on their post titled “8 Simple Swaps for a Healthy Living.” Follow this blog along with Live Well to find even more resources related to healthy living!

1. Swap Refined Grains for Whole Grains
• MyPlate recommends making 1/2 of our grains whole. Why not try and make all of your grains whole grains? Whole grains are less processed and provide more fiber and vitamins/minerals than their refined friends.
• Get creative and try new whole grains like quinoa, bulgur, faro, or barley.

2. Cook at Home Rather Than Eat Out
• This one is pretty simple, but can easily trip us up.
• Restaurant entrees tend to be higher in salt, sugar, and fat. We also tend to overeat when we go out because of the large portions. Make an effort to meal plan each week and cook at home most days.
• Dinner can be as simple as fried eggs over sautéed veggies or leftover whole-wheat pasta with tomato sauce and canned chicken.

3. Stay Away From Sneaky Sauces
• We love sauces at our house because they make leftovers so tasty! Some sauces can be high in sugar and sodium, so I try to look for healthier versions and stick to things like low-sugar BBQ sauce, mustard, and low-sodium soy sauce.
• Stay away from creamy salad dressing, look for “light” versions of your favorites, or try making a healthy oil-based dressing at home.

4. Bake with Healthier Ingredients
• Treats can be a part of a healthy lifestyle, although baking for 1 or 2 people is sometimes difficult. Rather than my husband and I polishing off an entire pan of brownies, I try to find healthier ways to bake our treats or make a treat with just a couple of servings. Here are my tricks:
• Replace butter/oil with applesauce or mashed bananas.
• Replace some of the flour with whole-wheat flour or pureed beans.
• Reduce the amount of sugar in baked goods by 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Most baked goods are sweet enough without the extra sugar.
• Immediately freeze half of the treats for later so you aren’t tempted to polish off the batch.
• Share with friends, neighbors, or co-workers.
• Try a mug cake! These individual desserts are the perfect cure for any sweet tooth.

5. Start with Soup or Salad Rather Than Bread
• This is a good rule of thumb to follow, especially when you are eating out. Fill up on a broth-based soup or light salad before grabbing that second piece of bread.
• You can use this rule at home as well. Start off by eating your vegetable sides first and then move on to the rest of the meal. If you are listening to your fullness cues, you might end up eating less of the unhealthy stuff.

6. Trade High Sugar Drinks for Healthier Options
• You knew I had to include this one! Soda and fruit juice are incredibly high in sugar. We might be drinking 100’s of calories each day and not even realize it because our bodies do not register the calories we drink in the same way as the food we eat.
• 100% fruit juice is better than some options, but is missing the fiber that whole fruit contains. Choose whole fruit whenever possible!
• Try adding fruit slices to water, drink unsweetened tea, or reach for a glass of protein-packed low-fat milk.

7. Look for Ways to Be More Active
• So simple, but being more active throughout the day really adds up. It is recommended that adults get in 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week. This can be broken up throughout the day, so find ways to move and just do it!

8. Chew Slowly Instead of Speed Eating
• I am so guilty of chowing down and sprinting on to the next thing! This isn’t the best thing for our bodies and can lead to overeating. Instead, be more mindful throughout meals. Take time to savor your meal without distractions like TV and work and allow yourself at least 20 minutes to register fullness before getting second helpings.

9. Swap Junk Foods With Healthier Snacks
• Instead of ice cream, try yogurt topped with fruit and nuts
• Instead of potato chips try roasted nuts
• Instead of white or milk chocolate try dark chocolate
• Instead of French fries, try edamame beans
• Instead of candy try fresh fruit

10. Swap Salt with Fresh or Dried Herbs and Spices
• When you want to enhance the taste of your food, you can use fresh or dried herbs and spices instead of salt. Some flavorful herbs and spices are cinnamon, ginger, garlic, clove, parsley, sage, cilantro, nutmeg, basil, coriander, cumin, and cardamom.



Keep 2016 Looking Bright

Looking Bright Blog
Keep up with those 2016 goals!

New Year, New You

Have you made your resolutions for 2016? If not, here are some amazing ideas to get the ball rolling. If you have, check this list and make sure that your goals are on-track!

Make sure your goals are SMART:

If you plan to set goals, make sure they are SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and has a Time frame. Add as many intermediate action steps to your goal plan as possible. A written goal with these elements puts your brain to work faster than if you merely have the thoughts in your mind. A few minutes each day taking action on your goals can put you farther ahead in attaining them as opposed to spending hours periodically. There are many goal setting resources on the internet to help you with the goal setting, planning and completion process.

Make your goals VISUAL:

Create a vision board with pictures and words of your goals. Put a frame around, which can be as simple as painter’s tape, to give your brain parameters on which to focus. Spending a few minutes a day concentrating intently on the images and words, 2-3 minutes in the morning and at night can be very effective. As you attain your goals, put your completed goals in a binder with the date you accomplished them. This will give you momentum to complete your goals faster. Again, there are many resources on the internet on vision boards, but one I like is 3KeyElements.com.


Even more important than knowing your credit score, which is often provided for free by credit card companies, is knowing that your credit history is secure and accurate. Incorrect information and fraudulent activity can affect your credit standing greatly. Annualcreditreport.com is the official site to get your free annual credit report for the three credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. If you stagger pulling your report throughout the year it will help keep a monitor on your credit. Consider getting your report in January, one at tax time and one in the fall.

Make some positive HEALTH changes:

You can find useful tips and tools for healthy activity and food choices on ChooseMyPlate.gov. Consider shopping more on the perimeter of the grocery store where you can find healthier choices such as fruit and vegetable produce and dairy and meats. Choose lean dairy and meats. Choose more whole grain products. Making your changes gradually is more effective than trying to do too much and giving up.

Monitor your ACTIVITY level:

Get a good device to track your activity level. If you are tracking steps, 7,500 – 10,000 is considered active, with 10,000 being the better goal of the range. Start where you are and add steps gradually till you reach your goal. Smart phones often have activity tracking options and there are many apps to help with tracking your activity and food intake. Be sure to check with a doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Strengthen your family RELATIONSHIPS:

Eating dinner together is a great way to increase family togetherness. The benefits of eating together are better communication, better nutrition and better well-being. Eating dinner around the table has greater benefits than watching TV while eating.

Make a PLAN:

If you have a business or plan to start a business, make sure you have a plan and the know how to run a successful business. Be sure you have thought everything through before starting a business. Many small businesses end within the first two years after having put a lot of time and resources into it. There are many business planning tools available through SBA.gov and SBDC.gov. Watch for the Garfield County Business Conference in March, which is open to everyone to attend.

Use the USU Extension Office as a RESOURCE:

Check your local County Utah State University Extension Offices for classes, resources and information on these and other topics. Or check the state USU Extension website extension.usu.edu for additional information, fact sheets and articles.

This article was written by SuzAnne Jorgensen, Extension Agent, Garfield County

Easy Ways to Brighten Up Your Winter!

Citrus Blog

Brighten up your winter with fresh citrus!

Fresh Start

An abundance of citrus fruits are available in grocery stores this time of year. Their bright colors greet you as you walk into the produce department. Use these fruits to escape the January blues and add some color to your cooking and your kitchen!

Citrus fruits can help you get back on track to a healthy lifestyle after the holidays. They’re also a fun way to splash some freshness and color into a mundane winter menu.

Along with being delicious and refreshing, citrus fruits are full of vitamin C. Citrus fruits also promote heart health and reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. They have been known to aid in cancer prevention and are useful in diabetes sugar level control. Other important nutrients found in citrus fruits are fiber, folate, lypocene, potassium and vitamin B6.

Citrus fruits are also objects of beauty and decor. A bowl of fresh fruit makes a great centerpiece. It can also remind you that selecting a piece of fruit rather than candy or cookies is a wise choice.

It is smart to keep fresh fruit within reach to encourage daily consumption. USDA’s MyPlate recommends eating 2 cups of fruit every day. This may be in the form of juice, fresh, canned or dried fruits.

Here are some quick ways to increase citrus fruits in your daily diet.

• Add oranges and lemons to water to allow infusing overnight.
• Eat half a grapefruit every morning for breakfast.
• Have a citrus snack every day. Throw an orange or clementine in your purse or bag on your way out the door.
• Top veggies or salads with a fresh squeeze of lemon to enhance the flavor.
• Prepare entrees centered around a citrus theme.

Below you will find recipes for a salad, an entrée and a dessert all focused on delicious citrus. Enjoy!

Tossed Green Salad with Citrus Dressing:
• 4 cups torn fresh spinach
• 4 cups torn leaf lettuce
• 2 (11 oz.) cans mandarin oranges
• ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons thinly sliced radishes

• ½ cup orange juice
• ¼ cup lemon juice
• ¼ cup olive oil
• ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
• ¼ teaspoon paprika
• Pepper to taste

Toss spinach, lettuce, oranges and radishes in salad bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and whisk together until blended. Serve with salad. Refrigerate leftover dressing. Yield: 8 servings

Lemon Chicken Stir Fry
• 1 lemon
• ½ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
• 3 tablespoons soy sauce
• 2 teaspoons cornstarch
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 onion, diced
• 3 cups sliced mushrooms
• 1 cup sliced carrots (1/4 inch thick)
• 2 cups snow peas, stems and strings removed
• 1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Grate 1 teaspoon lemon zest and set aside. Juice the lemon and whisk 3 tablespoons of juice with broth, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate. Add onion, mushrooms and carrots to the pan and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add snow peas and reserved lemon zest. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk the broth mixture and add to the pan. Cook, stirring until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Add chicken and heat through. Yield: 4 servings

Orange Gladness
• 2 oranges, peeled, separated and chopped
• 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
• 6-ounce package sugar-free orange gelatin
• 16 ounces low fat cottage cheese
• 8-ounces fat-free whipped topping, thawed

Place the oranges and pineapple in a large mixing bowl. Prepare orange gelatin according to instructions on the box. Pour heated gelatin mixture over fruit in mixing bowl. Mix well and allow to chill for 2-3 hours. Once chilled, mix in the cottage cheese. Last, gently fold in the whipped topping. Yield: 6-8 servings

Stress Busters // Finding Relief From Holiday Stress

holiday-stress-reliefAccording to the National Headache Foundation, people complain of a greater incidence of tension-type headaches and migraines between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Family stress, long lines and altered sleep and eating patterns play a key role. Consider these tips to reduce stress and tension this holiday season.

  • Exercise regularly. This helps you relax and let off steam. Also watch what you eat.
  • Try relaxation and stretching exercises such as neck rolls and slow, deep breathes to reduce muscle tension and headaches.
  • If an especially unpleasant task faces you, do it early in the day and get it over with. The rest of your day will be free of anxiety.
  • Learn to delegate responsibility to others.
  • Forget about counting to 10. Count to 100 before doing or saying anything that could make matters worse.
  • Have a forgiving view of events and people. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world.
  • Get involved with other people. Do something for somebody. Do something with somebody.
  • Say “no” more often. It’s amazing how much stress can be eliminated by giving up unrewarding activities, refusing inappropriate requests and turning down invitations from people you don’t enjoy.
  • Find humor in every disaster. You can usually find something funny if you look for it. No disaster is so bad that it couldn’t be worse.
  • De-clutter your life. Get rid of clothes you never wear, objects that collect dust, furniture you hate and activities you don’t enjoy.
  • Make friends with non-worriers. Nothing can get you into the habit of worrying faster than associating with chronic worrywarts.
  • Create order out of chaos. Organize your home and workspace so that you always know exactly where things are. Have a place for everything and everything in its place.
  • Become more flexible. Some things are worth not doing perfectly, and compromise can be found on some issues. Ask yourself if it will matter in five years.
  • Eliminate destructive self-talk such as, “I’m too old…, I’m too fat…”
  • Shun the superman/superwoman urge. Be realistic. Set practical goals and simplify.
  • Take a break. A change of pace, no matter how short, can give you a new outlook on old problems.
  • When a problem is beyond your control, learn to recognize and accept it.
  • Get up 15 minutes earlier. The inevitable morning mishaps will be less stressful.
  • Don’t rely on your memory. Write down appointment times, when to pick up your prescription, when projects are due, etc.  An old Chinese proverb states, “The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.”
  • Procrastination is stressful. Whatever you want to do tomorrow, do today; whatever you want to do today, do it now.
  • Plan ahead. Don’t let the gas tank get below one-quarter full. Keep a well-stocked shelf of home staples. Don’t wait until you’re down to your last cup of flour to buy more.
  • Don’t put up with something that doesn’t work right. If such things as your alarm clock, wallet, shoelaces or toaster are a constant aggravation, get them fixed or get new ones.
  • Be ready to wait. Reading a chapter of an e-book on your phone or keeping in touch on social media can make time spent standing in line or sitting in a waiting room almost pleasant. Everything takes a little longer than you expect, even if you already expect it to take longer.
  • Count your blessings. For every one thing that goes wrong, there are probably 10 or 50 or 100 blessings and things that go right. Count them!


By Margie Memmott, USU Extension associate professor, 435-623-3451, margie.memmott@usu.edu

Ask A Specialist // The Power of Pomegranates


Pomegranates are an amazing alternative to holiday sweets!

Powerful Pomegranates

As the holidays approach, fresh pomegranates become readily available. Pomegranates are found in most Utah grocery stores from October through December, and two varieties are grown in Washington County.

These native Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fruits used in anything from salads to desserts are an excellent source of phytochemicals, making them one of the best antioxidants available.

The edible seeds of these yellow-orange to deep-red colored fruits have a citrus flavor and make a delicious juice.

Over the last few years, the health value of the pomegranate has been studied.  Preliminary research shows that the pomegranate may be one of the best antioxidant fruits that can fight cancer, slow the aging process, increase heart health and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Several studies from UCLA and USDA indicate that pomegranates are a major stabilizer of cancer. The naturally occurring antioxidants in this fruit fight the free radicals that promote disease. 

One average pomegranate contains about 100 calories and 25 grams of sugar and is a good source of potassium. Consider this information when preparing the healthy fruit.

• To open a pomegranate, cut off the blossom end and score through the skin marking the fruit in quarters. Submerge the pomegranate in ice-cold water and rub the seeds off the skin. The skin will float to the top, the seeds to the bottom, and then they can be drained. See the demonstration video athttp://tinyurl.com/peelingpomegranates.

• To store pomegranates, keep them at room temperature for a week, then refrigerate in an air-tight bag for up to 3 months or freeze the seeds for 6 months to a year. 

Pomegranates are enjoyable in salsa, salads, with main dishes, as jelly and syrup or just by the handful.


Dixie Pomegranate Fresh Salsa
1 pomegranate, seeded
2 oranges, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 bunch cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons lime juice

Score pomegranate and break apart in ice water. Drain the seeds. Add all ingredients and chill for 2 hours before serving.

Pomegranate Jelly
3 1/2 cups pomegranate juice, fresh, bottled or frozen and thawed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 package (2 ounces) powdered pectin
4 1/2 cups sugar

Combine pomegranate juice, lemon juice and pectin in a 4 or 5-quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar until well blended; return to a boil and continue boiling, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Remove jelly from heat immediately. Put in jars and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes. Cool for 24 hours, then remove the ring before storing.

By Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension associate professor, carolyn.washburn@usu.edu

10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Debt

christmas-holiday-box2Christmas is just around the corner, but there is still time to plan for gift exchanges that won’t cause credit card debt to skyrocket. Consider implementing one, two or several of the following tips.

* Reduce the number of purchased gifts. This is especially effective for children. Rather than buying gifts for family and friends, help children create service gift cards good for babysitting, watching a pet for a weekend, 1 dozen homemade cookies, etc.

* Pick up odd jobs for a few weeks. Find people who will pay to have their leaves raked, garden tilled or rain gutters cleaned. If you are handy with tools, there may be other jobs that can be done like chopping wood, building a shed, etc.

* Beware of shopping the TV networks. Professionals on commercials are trained to entice buyers. They are interested in getting you to buy; they aren’t interested in whether or not you need their product.

* Shop local. Perhaps some items on your Christmas list could be purchased for less in a larger city. However, watching sales close to home can save time and fuel costs. Consider that many who shop out of town will also spend money to eat out and are tempted to buy more when there is a larger selection available.

* Set a spending limit and stick to it. Traditions of buying expensive clothes, large tools, appliances, etc., can quickly run up the credit card tab. Also, do kids (and adults) really need the very latest tech gadget or toy?

* Spend on a gift that is an investment in your future. As a couple, consider giving each other the gift of an extra payment on your home mortgage. This could jump-start the desire to pay off your home sooner. Those who budget even $50 more each month to pay down the principal on their mortgage can take two or more years off the total due by decreasing the interest.

* Put on a “practical” hat when making your Christmas list. Socks, gloves, kitchen shears, towels, a welcome mat or a book are examples of practical gifts. Does the family you are giving to really need one more decoration for the home? Perhaps, if it has personal sentiments attached, but be thoughtful if you choose to go this direction.

* Consider size, shape and weight if you are mailing. Costs of shipping have gone up, even since last year. If you are sending gifts, perhaps a gift card is the best choice. It’s possible that the shipping costs may be more than the value of the gift. Some companies have electronic gift cards that can be emailed directly to the recipient.

* Start setting aside cash now. How many paychecks do you have coming between now and the holidays? For some it may be only two. Others could have as many as six. Could you set aside 5 percent from each paycheck? That could give you extra money to work with.

* Black Friday and Cyber Monday – are they worth the hype? Consider that the whole purpose behind these events is to jump-start consumer spending for the holidays. There may be one or two exceptional deals, but most people will be better off to simply stick to the original shopping list.

The above ideas don’t come close to covering the slew of suggestions available to help reduce buyers’ remorse and January credit card statement shock. Hopefully, however, they will assist in getting the creative juices flowing in deciding how to spend less this Christmas. For other suggestions to slash expenses throughout the year, visithttp://extension.usu.edu and click on “Publications.” Then type “Slashing Expenses” in the search bar.

By: Kathy Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu, 435-586-8132

Ask a Specialist // Perfectly Cooking Your Turkey

Turkey Talk Blog

Learn how to properly cook your Thanksgiving bird!

Avoiding FOWL Play

It is estimated that each Thanksgiving, more than 46 million turkeys are prepared and eaten in the United States. Because of the number of turkeys prepared, the incidence of food-borne illness also increases during the holidays.

If not prepared properly, turkey and all poultry can carry Salmonella, a common type of bacteria that can cause food-borne illness. Consider these tips for preparing a safe and tasty turkey this year.

* The first and most important food safety step is to properly thaw the turkey. The best way to thaw it is in the refrigerator. Make sure it is still in its original wrapper, and put a tray underneath it to catch juices and prevent cross contamination. You will need 24 hours of thawing time for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey, so make sure you have enough time to properly thaw it. Once thawed, cook the turkey within 1 to 2 days.

* If you need to thaw the turkey more quickly, you can use the cold water method. Place the turkey in an airtight package or leak-proof bag. Submerge the turkey in cold water for 30 minutes per pound, and make sure to change the water every half hour so it remains cold. Cook immediately.

* If you purchased a smaller turkey, it may be possible to thaw it in the microwave. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the size of turkey that will fit in your microwave, the minutes per pound and the power level for thawing. Roast it immediately after thawing.

* It is never safe to thaw turkey or other meat on the counter. This is putting the meat in what food safety experts call the danger zone, 40 to 140 F, which is where bacteria multiply rapidly. Under ideal conditions, bacteria can double every 10 to 20 minutes. That means one cell can increase to more than 16 million cells in 8 hours. For this reason, perishable foods such as poultry should never be held at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

* To roast a turkey, set the oven temperature no lower than 325 F. It is not safe to cook a turkey for a lengthy time, such as overnight, at a very low temperature. This encourages bacterial growth. To check for doneness, use a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh. Do not rely on the pop-up thermometer alone. Meat thermometers are available at reasonable prices in most supermarkets and variety stores. To be safe, the thigh meat should reach 165 F. If the bird is stuffed, the stuffing should reach 165 F as well.

* After the meal, promptly refrigerate leftovers in shallow containers. Some families leave turkey and other perishable items out all day for people to nibble on. This is not safe. Place perishable items in the refrigerator. If people want to snack, they can get the food out of the refrigerator.

For more information on turkey preparation or storage, contact your local USU county Extension office. You can also contact USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPH-otline (888-674-6854).

This article was written by Darlene Christensen, USU Extension associate professor, 435-277-2406, darlene.christensen@usu.edu

Take Charge of Your Diabetes // Bonus Holiday Recipe

Diabetes Blog

It’s never too late to take charge of your life!

Diabetes is a complex disease that requires daily self-management, making healthy food choices, staying physically active, monitoring blood sugar and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor.

Over 8 percent of the American population has diabetes. In over 65 populations, 25 percent have diabetes.

Our bodies need daily nutrients. We consume carbohydrates for energy, proteins for strength, and fats are also needed for nerves and body functions. How much we consume of each is critical to understand. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose during digestion. Carbohydrates are the main ingredient that raises blood glucose.

As you take control of your diet, you will need to understand portion size, the ingredients in products, and watch for added ingredients. Fiber is also an important component for diabetics. Fiber can help control blood sugar levels by slowing down sugar absorption.

Fiber makes you feel “fuller” and helps move foods through the digestive tract. With bright colors and flavorful textures, vegetables are an excellent way to add fiber, vitamins and minerals to your daily plan. Fill your plate half full with vegetables at meal time. Aim for 30 grams of fiber every day. Adding apples, pears, bran, and vegetables to your everyday diets will increase the fiber and help in maintaining sugar levels.

Finding out that you have diabetes can be discouraging and frustrating. It is a serious disease with many possible complications. However, research has shown that people with diabetes can live long and healthy lives. The way to do this is by managing glucose levels with diet, exercise and proper medications.

For those with diabetes, it is critical to find ways to eat foods with lower sugars, salts and fats. These three items greatly flavor most of our foods and when we minimize them, we must make some modifications, finding new ways to flavor foods.

Learning to use herbs, spices, sugar substitutes, low fat and low-sodium products will make a difference in your blood sugar levels.

Diabetes is an ongoing epidemic, and shouldn’t go unchecked. Keep it monitored and under control. You may enjoy this favorite recipe for the upcoming holidays.

Sweet Potato Casserole

4 sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into slices or chunks
1/3 cup sugar free pancake syrup
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
3 tbsp low fat butter or butter substitute, cut in small pieces

Cook potatoes in lightly salted boiling water for 8 minutes until almost tender. Drain well.
Heat syrup and ginger in a small sauce pan. Cook 3 minutes on low for flavors to blend; set aside.

In prepared pan, arrange potatoes in a single layer. Pour syrup mixture over potatoes. Dot with butter. Cover and bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Extension Professor, Washington County