Ask an Expert // Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with the Family

surviving thanksgiving logo.jpgIt’s that time of year when family members travel from far and wide to gather, give thanks and eat a large meal together. Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time filled with traditions, famous family recipes and catching up with each other’s lives. However, some view Thanksgiving with concern about how everyone will get along.


 

Here are some do’s and don’ts to help your family have a better chance for a peaceful, enjoyable Thanksgiving this year.

 

What Not to Do

 

  • Don’t talk politics or bring up other “hot topics.” Often the urge is to help family members “really understand” your position or understand why their position is irrational and wrong. Too often, this ends with slamming doors and someone crying in another room or the car.

 

  • Don’t be sarcastic, critical or give subtle jabs. These can cause emotions to escalate quickly, and feelings can get hurt.

 

  • Don’t try to fix each other’s problems over one meal. Also, don’t discuss the problems of other family members who aren’t there. The Thanksgiving meal is not the time to suggest someone get out of a relationship, sell a house, be a better parent or start exercising.

 

  • Don’t take things personally. Some family members are more “prickly” than others, but choose not to get defensive. If someone does start fishing for a reaction, don’t take the hook.

 

What to Do

 

  • Take charge of seating. Set the table for success by separating conflicting personalities. Set the conspirators near you so you can put out fires and guide the conversation.

 

  • Remind yourself why you are doing it. You love your family (most of them?), and ultimately, people are more important than problems.

 

  • Ask others about their lives. Don’t talk about yourself the entire time.

 

  • Give kids responsibilities, but then turn them loose. Kids simply aren’t going to enjoy being trapped at a table for long periods of time. They get restless and whiny. It’s okay if they run off after trying most of the foods. Don’t turn it into a battle. Have something for them to do after the meal.

 


This article was written by David Schramm, Utah State University Extension family life specialist, david.schramm@usu.edu




Ask an Expert // Preventing Wildlife Attacks: Let Common Sense Overrule Curiosity

wildlife sq.png

Summer and autumn are gorgeous seasons for outdoor activities. Camping and visiting national parks are some of the most popular. Who doesn’t love spending time in the great outdoors?

While you’re soaking up the sun and enjoying time with the family it’s important to remember that you’re a guest in nature. Be sure to exercise caution and avoid wild animals!


 

Recent media reports of wildlife attacking humans have many people concerned and reconsidering their time spent outdoors.

 

Utah wildlife species that have been implicated in attacks on humans, livestock and pets include black bears, mountain lions, moose, elk, mule deer, coyotes, raccoons, turkeys, rattlesnakes and bison. Negative interactions with large ungulates are becoming more common place as humans are increasingly recreating in animal territory, and it’s important to not let human curiosity overrule common sense.

 

Recent altercations in Yellowstone National Park attest to the value of common sense over curiosity. In June, a bison gored a woman in the Lower Geyser Basin. Before the attack, the woman and other people were within 10 yards of the animal as it crossed a boardwalk. The animal became agitated and charged. Also in June, and in the same area, two women were attacked by a cow elk when they got between the cow and her calf; the cow was defending her calf.

 

Since 1980, Yellowstone National Park has had over 100 million visitors. During this time, 38 people were injured by grizzly bears in the park. Though this is more than anyone wants, according to the Park for all park visitors combined, the chances of being injured by a grizzly bear are 1 in 2.7 million. For Park visitors who remain in developed areas, roadsides and boardwalks, the risk decreases to 1 in 25.1 million. For those who camp and travel in the backcountry, the risk increases to 1 in 1.4 million for those who stay overnight and 1 in 232,000 for those who travel in the back county.

 

Although there will always be risks, they can be managed by using common sense and following simple rules.

  1. First and foremost, always remember that Utah is wildlife country. It is home to an abundance of wildlife, which is why so many people are drawn to our state.
  2. Should you encounter wildlife while hiking, biking or camping, remember that distance is your best friend. Most of the attacks reported occur because someone wanted to get that once-in-a-lifetime selfie. Always give the animal a clear path to escape.
  3. If you do encounter wildlife, stay calm and do not run. Pick up children or pets with you. This is the one time that you can be as obnoxious as possible outdoors. Puff up you chest, shout and stomp your feet. Back away slowly. And again remember, do not run!
  4. If a moose, elk or deer knocks you down, curl up in a ball, protect you head and lie still until the animal moves away.
  5. If attacked by a large predator, fight back!
  6. If you encounter a rattlesnake, stop, listen to locate where the rattle is coming from and back away to allow the snake to escape.

Follow these rules for camping:

  1. Keep a clean, odor-free campsite by storing food, drinks and scented items securely in wildlife-proof containers at least 100 yards from your tent. Keep trash away from your campsite, and do not burn it in your fire pit.
  2. Clean your tables, stoves and grills to remove food or odors that could attract wildlife.
  3. Keep your pets leashed in camp and stay with them on the designated trails. Do not let your pet chase or “play” with wildlife, as your pet may be viewed as food.
  4. Always hike, jog and camp with companions.
  5. If you find a wildlife carcass, stay away from it. You could be perceived as messing with a predator’s food, which could cause them to become aggressive.

If you have an encounter with aggressive wildlife, alert the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources office nearest you. For further information on wild animal attacks, visit wildawareutah.org.


This article was contributed by Terry Messmer, Utah State University Extension wildlife specialist.
terry.messmer@usu.edu




Dinner in a Pumpkin

Dinner in a pumpkin.jpgImpress your family and friends with afestive fall dinner— soup served in a pumpkin!


When I worked for Food $ense a few years ago we stumbled across what has become one of my favorite fall recipes , dinner in a pumpkin.  It is best to use a cooking pumpkin for these types of recipes.

Dinner in a Pumpkin

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 potatoes, 1″ cubes
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, 1/2″ slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 2 T beef bouillon granules
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pumpkin (10-12 lbs.)

Directions:

In a medium pan, brown ground beef, rinse and drain.  Add beef back to pan and add water, potatoes, carrots, green pepper, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Stir in bouillon and add tomatoes

Wash pumpkin and cut an 8″ circle around the top stem.  Remove top and set aside.  Take out seeds and loose fibers from inside the pumpkin.  Place pumpkin in shallow pan.  Spoon beef mixture into pumpkin and replace stem.  Brush outside of pumpkin with olive oil.  Bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours or until the pumpkin is tender.  Serve by scooping out a little pumpkin with each serving.  


This article was written by Paige Wray, USU Extension Assistant Professor, San Juan County Family Consumer Sciences/4-H




Spicy Vegetable Soup

 

Spicy Vegetable Soup

Looking for a hearty fall soup? Look no further, this spicy vegetable soup will hit the spot. Bonus: it’s vegan and gluten free!


No need to pull up Pinterest and search for the perfect “fall” soup recipe any longer–I have the perfect one for you here! With the weather being drizzly and cloudy, I decided I might as well embrace the fall-ness. So, I put on my new cardigan, lit my candle, put on some autumn tunes, and started creating this recipe.

Meet — Spicy Vegan Vegetable Soup. One taste and you guys are going to be best friends!  

Picture6

There’s nothing better than a warming bowl of your favorite soup on a cold night. Not the kind of soup from a can, but the easy homemade kind that’s comforting and good for the soul, with leftovers to spare.

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This recipe is actually incredibly healthy! One serving provides a significant amount of vegetables, which means many different vitamins and minerals. It’s spicy, it’s easy, it’s warm, and it is oh-so flavorful. You just can’t beat it!

Wanna know what’s even better? This tasty soup can be made in one pot! Less effort + less dishes + a whole lot of veggie action = one ridiculously good meal!

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The spiciness level is bearable and won’t leave your mouth burning, but it’s enough heat to warm you up! Of course you can adjust it accordingly and omit the jalapeno or cayenne pepper if spicy isn’t your thing.  

When all the flavors combine, you are left with a super healthy meal chock full of plant protein from fresh veggies, black beans, plus a nice blend of spices to please your taste buds.

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Spicy Vegan Vegetable Soup

Yields: 4 large bowls of soup, or six modest servings

Ingredients

  • 2.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 of a jalapeño, finely diced (optional)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 15 oz. cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes or 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water (or more as needed, depending on your consistency preference)
  • avocado, for topping
  • cilantro, for topping

Spice Blend

  • 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper*

 

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat and sauté onion, jalapeño, bell pepper, and sweet potato for about 7-9 minutes. Add garlic for about 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add tomatoes, vegetable broth/water, and the spice blend. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft.

  2. Add zucchini and black beans and cook for about 5 more minutes.

  3. Top with avocado and cilantro.

*Optional, the cayenne pepper adds spice


This article was written by Marisa Christensen, Dietetic Intern,  and Jaqueline Neid-Avila, MDA, RDN, CD




Carve Your Pumpkin, Keep the Seeds!

pumpkin-seeds

Today we’re talking about pumpkin seeds— how to prepare them and different ways to use them. So as you get ready to carve pumpkins this year, don’t forget to save the seeds!


When you are carving that Halloween Jack-o’-lantern this year, here is one request I have for you, keep your seeds! Did you know that 1 oz of pumpkin seeds has around 5 grams of protein? Pumpkin seeds are an easy, cheap way to add a nutritious boost to your trail mix, baked goods and granola.

First and foremost, remove the pulp and seeds from the inside of your pumpkin. I like to put the seeds and pulp in a bowl of water while carving my pumpkin. This helps to pull away all the strings from the seeds. When you have only seeds left in your bowl, give them a good rinse. Move seeds to a new bowl and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings and oil. Make sure to mix well.  Next you will want to spread them evenly over a large baking tray. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Make sure to check and stir the seeds frequently to avoid burning. Cool pumpkin seeds and then store them in an air-tight container.

When choosing a seasoning for your pumpkin seeds, think about what you plan to do with them. The outer part of the pumpkin seed can be removed (hulled) after they have been roasted. The inner part of the pumpkin seed is a green color and is a great addition to breads and muffins.

Check out these five ways to use pumpkin seeds below:

Traditional Roast

When using this method, try different spices to give your seeds some flair. Here are some combinations:

  • Cinnamon Toast Pumpkin Seeds: 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp salt, 2 Tbsp sugar, 3 Tbsp melted butter or olive oil
  • Chili Pumpkin Seeds: 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 Tbsp tamari sauce, 2 tsp garlic powder, salt to taste, 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Spicy Pumpkin Seeds: ½ tsp paprika, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes, 2 Tbsp melted butter or olive oil
  • Ginger Zest Pumpkin Seeds: 2 Tbsp ground ginger, 2 Tbsp sugar, ½ tsp orange zest, 2 Tbsp melted butter or oil
  • Parmesan Pumpkin Seeds: ¼ c Parmesan cheese, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 2 Tbsp melted butter or oil.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

This one was new to me, but has quickly turned into a favorite. Making a traditional pesto with pine nuts can be pricy, but not when you are using your pumpkin seeds! For this it is important to have hulled (green) pumpkin seeds.

Ingredients- 2 c. hulled pumpkin seeds, 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ tsp sea salt, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 c. fresh cilantro, and ¼ c. water. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Cover and chill until ready to use.

More Ideas

  • Add them to trail mix or granola. Do your granola or trail mix recipes call for nuts? Reduce the portion of nuts and add pumpkin seeds for the remaining portion.
  • Add them to baked goods or use in brittle. Instead of making a nut brittle this year, sub in hulled pumpkin seeds to make a new fall favorite.
  • Garnish soups, salads and desserts. Add a little extra crunch to any meal by topping your dish off with pumpkin seeds!

This article was written by Jaqueline Neid-Avila, Utah State University Extension nutrition faculty for Davis County. Comments or questions may be sent to jaqueline.neid-avila@usu.edu or call 801-451-3404. Republished from October 2016.




Tips for a Safe Halloween

Today we’re sharing some Halloween safety tips for you and your little ghouls and goblins. Keep track of these tips by pinning them on Pinterest.


safehalloweenpin-oy-oct2016


This article was re-published from October 2015, with information taken from cdc.gov.




Ask an Expert // How to Winterize Your Sprinklers

winterize sprinklersFind out how to prepare your sprinklers for cold winter temperatures with this instructional video.


 




Eating in Season // Pomegranates

pomegranatesIf you like the sweet and tangy flavor of pomegranates, now is the time to incorporate them into you menu plan, because they are in season through November. Read on to learn some of the nutritional benefits of pomegranates, and for a few recipes to try while they are in season.


As fall arrives we can enjoy the sweet, tart, juicy taste of pomegranates. These native
Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fruits used on anything from salads to desserts are an excellent source of the phytochemcials, making them one of the best antioxidants. The
edible seeds of these yellow-orange to a deep red colored fruits have a citrus flavor and
make a delicious juice.
The last few years, the health value of the pomegranate has been under study. Research
is now showing us that the pomegranates may be one of the best antioxidant fruits that
can fight cancer, slow down the aging process, increase heart health and help with
Alzheimer’s disease. True, not all the research is in, but 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 do promote disease.
One average pomegranate contains about 100 calories and 25 grams of sugar. They are
also a good source of potassium.
Opening a pomegranate can be messy; however, if you cut the blossom end off and score
through the skin marking the fruit in quarters, you can submerge the pomegranate in ice
cold water and rub the seeds off the skins. The skin will float to the top, the seeds to the
bottom and then drain off the fruit.
To store pomegranates, keep at room temperature for a week, refrigerate in an air tight
bag for up to 3 months, or freeze the seeds for 6 months to a year.
Most pomegranates are imported into Utah markets and grocery stores from California
and Arizona; however two varieties are produced in Washington County, Utah. The light
pink seeded Dixie Sweet is native to the Southern Utah warm climate with soft and sweet
seeds. Other southern Utah-grown pomegranates and those imported may have darker
and harder seeds. If you have an opportunity to travel to southern Utah, take the time to
consume these locally grown fruits. No matter where you consume them, a pomegranate
could be one of the best foods you can give your health. The harvesting time for
pomegranates is October through November; you will find them in most Utah grocery
stores during October into December. Pomegranates are a treat, enjoyable as a salsa, in
salads, with main dishes, as jelly and syrups, or just by the hand full, so eat up and enjoy.

Pomegranate Salsa

  • 1 pomegranate, seeded
  • 2 oranges, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 Chile jalapeño, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 Tbsp lime juice

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

Pomegranate Jelly

  • 3 1/2 cups pomegranate juice, fresh, frozen and thawed, or bottled
  • 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, and stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Remove
jelly from heat immediately.

Process in hot water bath 15 minutes. Cool for 24 hours and then remove the ring before
storing on the shelf.


This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, retired Utah State University Extension associate professor,




Savory Pumpkin Recipes for Fall

Pumpkin RecipesOctober is in full swing, and that means pumpkin is everywhere! Don’t reserve pumpkin just for your baked goods and sweet treats, try these savory pumpkin recipes to get a taste of fall.


Pumpkin is low in calories. One-half cup of mashed pumpkin (without salt) has 24 calories, 0 grams (g) fat, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 1 milligram sodium. Pumpkins are packed with nutrients, such as fiber and beta carotene. Our bodies use beta carotene to produce vitamin A. Pumpkins are also rich in potassium.

You can steam it, bake it, boil it, microwave it (if you put slits in it), and pressure cook it. Once cooked it can be mashed, pureed, cubed and stored in either the fridge or freezer in air tight containers. Mashed or pureed pumpkin (either fresh or canned) has many options for its use. Here are just a few: Muffins, biscuits, and quick breads with part whole wheat flour; soups, added to the sauce in mac and cheese; added to chili; make a smoothie; cheese balls; and add to hummus. Cubed and cooked pumpkin can be used with pasta, risotto, soups, salads, and casseroles.

Pumpkin Chili

(From Taste of Home)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and
    drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and pepper; cook and stir until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker; stir in the next 10 ingredients. Cook, covered, on low 4-5 hours. If desired, cube avocado and thinly
slice green onions, and top when serving.

Yield: 10 servings

Quick and Easy Creamy Pumpkin Soup

(From NDSU Extension Service)

  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly, tops included
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 green chili pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth, reduced sodium or
  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 (16-ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup undiluted, evaporated skim milk
  • Salt* and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley

In a 6-quart saucepan, sauté onions, green onions, celery and chili pepper in oil. Cook until onions begin to look translucent. Add broth, pumpkin, bay leaf,
and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf. Add evaporated milk and cook over low heat 5 minutes. Do not boil. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2
teaspoon black pepper, if desired. Transfer hot soup to pumpkin tureen. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Serve hot.

*Canned chicken broth and canned pumpkin may contain added salt. Taste the finished soup before adding salt, as additional salt may not be needed.


This article was written by Teresa C. Hunsaker, USU Extension, Weber County, Family and Consumer Sciences Education




Roasting Vegetables

Roasted Veggie how toTry these simple directions to achieve perfectly roasted and flavorful veggies.


Fall is upon us and so is the abundance of the harvest.  Are you looking for a fast, easy and yummy way to prepare those vegetables?  Roasting them is a great way to add some pizazz to your next meal.  Not only is roasting vegetables delicious, but it is very healthy as well.

Combining vegetables that have similar roasting times is an easy way to create a delicious, evenly cooked vegetarian side or main dish. You can also combine foods with varied roasting times – just add the faster-cooking vegetables to the oven later or pre-cook hard root vegetables on the stove top.

Easy Instructions:

  • Set oven temp to 450 F.  High heat is necessary for the vegetables to brown and caramelize by the time they are completely done.
  • Cut vegetables into similar-sized pieces.
  • For every 2 pounds of vegetables, toss with 1 T. olive oil and seasonings (such as salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, thyme or sage).
  • Line baking sheet with either parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  • Spread vegetables on baking sheet in a single layer with space between pieces.
  • Roast each vegetable variety separately or combine them.
  • Use roasted vegetables as a side dish, on a sandwich or Panini, on a tortilla, in soups or over brown rice or whole grain pasta.

Approximate cooking times for various vegetables:

10 to 15 minutes:  asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, buttercup squash, yellow and zucchini squash, garlic, leeks, okra, tomatillos, radishes

15 to 20 minutes:  Brussels sprouts, carrots, cherry tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms, parsnips

20 to 30 minutes:  baby artichokes, baby carrots, cauliflower, onion, corn on the cob, eggplant, kohlrabi, plum tomatoes, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, turnips

30 to 40 minutes: butternut squash, baking potatoes, rutabagas, new potatoes, celery

50 to 60 minutes: acorn squash, beets


This article was written by Patricia Mathis, USU Extension 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences Educator in Wasatch County