As far back as I can remember, I have been a tea drinker.  My father would make the best iced tea in the summer, and he would even drink it for breakfast!  My mother would drink hot tea at night, sometimes in an old porcelain cup and saucer, while she relaxed and read the newspaper. Today, my sister and I enjoy sharing stories about different shops and tea flavors we have tried!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is strawberry-drink-1412232_640.jpg

This love of drinking tea has “spilled over” into curiosity about making my own tea, starting with growing my own tea garden!

Growing a tea garden was much easier than I thought!

First, I chose my favorite tea herbs. My absolute favorite is spearmint! I love the taste, smell and color of mint…what a wonderful herb! I also love mint for its healing properties and forgiving nature. It’s easy to grow, and there are many varieties including chocolate mint, lemon mint, pineapple mint, spearmint and peppermint. This year I even saw mojito mint!

Next, I decided how many herbs to plant, and whether to grow them inside or outside. I have done both! I really enjoy having a little tea garden in a pot somewhere in the kitchen near sunlight, but my favorite place to grow tea herbs is outside, in the spot right next to my kitchen door. These locations are “close by” so I see them every day, and what a daily joy it is to walk by a tea garden full of fragrant herbs! These spots are also meaningful to me because of the memories they evoke. When my children were little, they used to call my small herb garden their “scratch and sniff garden” because when you scratch the leaves of herbs, they release a wonderful smell into the air!

There are many herbs and flowers that you can grow for making tea. The list is almost endless! Here are a few plants that are wonderful for making teas:

  • Chamomile
  • Hibiscus
  • Lemon Balm
  • Rose Hips
  • Lavender
  • Fennel
  • Stevia
  • Rosemary
  • Spearmint
  • Echinacea
  • Holy Basil
  • Lemon Grass
  • Peppermint

Many tea herbs are healing to the human body and date back to ancient times in China.  For example, chamomile is known for helping to sooth and relax, and its consumption is often recommended before bedtime. Mint is known to sooth nausea, so I brew these two herbs together along with stevia and make a simple tea blend that is wonderful before bedtime.  You can mix herbs together in any combination, depending on your personal preference and health needs.

To dry herbs for tea, simply gather a bunch of herbs (10-15 stems), bunch them together with a rubber band, and hang them in a warm, dry place with plenty of airflow. Drying can take up to several weeks, depending on the plant and its moisture content. When thoroughly dry, strip the leaves off the stems and store them in a tightly sealed glass or ceramic container away from heat and light.

I am excited for you to start your own tea garden and experiment with tea making. It is super easy and will bring much joy to your day! If you have a favorite tea recipe, please share by leaving a comment below!


Better Homes & Gardens (2017). Harvesting Herbs from Your Garden. https://www.bhg.com/gardening/vegetable/herbs/harvesting-herbs-from-your-garden/

Francis, M. “Hot Stuff: Grow an Indoor Tea Garden.” HGTV. https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-styles-and-types/hot-stuff-grow-an-indoor-tea-garden

Gaspar, E. “DIY Herbal Teas.” The National Gardening Association Learning Library. https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/124/

University of Rochester Medical Center. A Common Guide to Medicinal Herbs. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=1169

Written by: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu


girl doing handstand on beach with sunset/ocean in background

New Year’s Resolution Revival

Many New Year’s resolution focus on making health and lifestyle changes. Halfway through the year is a good time to check the progress of your resolutions.  After the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, many people start out highly motivated and determined that this is the year things will improve. However, within about six weeks, motivation dwindles and many fall off track. If this is where you are at, take a deep breath, and remember that is never too late to pick up where you left off and make progress again towards those goals.

My first recommendation is to think about your New Year’s resolution. What is your “why”? Your “why” is the reason you decided to set a particular health goal. Examples include lose weight, more energy, improve chronic diseases or achieve a fitness goal like running in a race or playing a sport. Write down your “why”, and then set smaller goals that will help you achieve your bigger goal. Goal setting needs to be strategic, so check your goals to see if they follow SMART goal guidelines:

  • S- Specific. Is your goal specific?
  • M- Measurable. Does your goal have objective forms of measurement to check your progress.
  • A- Achievable. Is this the right time to make changes in your life?
  • R- Realistic.  Does your goal challenge you, but not so much that you are setting yourself up for failure?
  • T- Timely. When do you plan to achieve this goal?

Next, check out who your support system is. It is important to surround yourself with people who know and support the goals you have set for yourself.

Staying motivated and committed is critical in reaching your goal. Stay motivated by reminding yourself of your “why” frequently. Place  motivational quotes on sticky notes around your home or work.  It helps to have friends or family that are willing to check in with you regarding your SMART goal’s progress , and develop a plan of action for how you will stick to your goals when you are tempted to quit.

Written by: Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension,Wood County,zies.1@osu.edu and Sara Turner- Smith, Bowling Green State University Dietetic Intern, Graduate Student in Food and Nutrition.

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension


Treber, Michelle. Using your Vacation to Jump Start your Healthy Resolutions. July 14, 2016. Live Healthy Live Well Blog at https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/07/14/use-your-vacation-to-jump-start-your-healthy-resolutions/

Mayo Clinic Staff. Weight-loss goals: Set yourself up for success. August 1, 2018 Mayo Clinic at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20048224

Meehan, Amy. Sticking to Your SMART fitness goals. March 27, 2018. Live Health, Live Healthy Blog at https://livehealthyosu.com/tag/smart-goals/

Lane McKenna, Achieving your SMART health goal. (n.d.) Be Well Stanford at https://bewell.stanford.edu/achieving-your-smart-health-goal/

Amazing Aquafaba

white beans soaking in waterHave you heard of aquafaba? This trendy new ingredient is actually a staple item in many of our pantries, although most of us tend to toss it down the drain. Aquafaba is the combination of two Latin words: aqua (water) and fava (beans). It is the liquid from canned beans, which, for years, nutrition professionals have recommended consumers drain, rinse and discard. However, a couple of years ago, a vegan American software engineer discovered that aquafaba could be whipped and used as an egg replacer in meringues, macaroons and mousses. Now, aquafaba is popular not only among the vegan community; it appeals to:

  • Individuals with egg allergies
  • Individuals trying to reduce food waste
  • Individuals with compromised immune systems – aquafaba poses a lower food safety risk than eggs because it is less likely to be contaminated with Salmonella, and it does not need to be baked prior to consumption
  • Individuals trying to reduce calorie intake – each tablespoon of aquafaba contains only 3-5 calories (although dietitians point out that it also contains minimal nutrients compared to the higher calorie egg)

a whisk in a bowl of icingAquafaba can also be used in place of eggs in various dishes- from pancakes and waffles to baked goods, quiche and mayonnaise. Like eggs, aquafaba acts as a binder, thickener and emulsifier in cooking and baking.

When using aquafaba as an egg replacement, roughly three tablespoons is equivalent to one whole egg, and two tablespoons is equivalent to one egg white. The following tips can also contribute to your success when using aquafaba in place of eggs in your cooking:

  • If using aquafaba as a binder or to replace whole eggs (as in a quiche or most baked goods), whip the liquid with a fork until just foamy prior to use.
  • If making a meringue or mousse, whip the liquid with 1 teaspoon cream of tartar for 5–10 minutes until stiff peaks form.
  • Keep in mind that if you or someone in your household is sensitive to bean sugars, aquafaba may not be the best ingredient for you. Although the amount of aquafaba in most recipes is minimal, it may still cause gastrointestinal distress or flatulence and should be used cautiously by those with bean sugar sensitivities.

bowl of chocolate mousseReady to give aquafaba a try? Just substitute for eggs in your favorite dish- or, for a special treat, see this recipe for aquafaba chocolate mousse from the Michigan State University Health4U program.


Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu


Aquafaba Admin (2016). The Official Aquafaba Website. http://aquafaba.com/

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (2017). Aquafaba… The Magical Bean Juice. https://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/wellness/2017/11/14/aquafabathe-magical-bean-juice/

Levinson, J. (2017). Aquafaba’s Versatility. Today’s Dietitian; 19(9), 36. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0917p36.shtml

Last month I returned to work after the birth of my son. Since then, many people have commented – often with a hint of jealousy in their tone – on how quickly I “bounced back” after having a baby. The message they mean to convey with these words is that I was successful in returning to my pre-pregnancy weight. I do count this achievement as a success, as I was very intentional about staying active throughout my pregnancy to help with my labor, delivery and postpartum recovery. Physically, one might look at me and think that I am well, and in some respects that is true. I eat fairly healthfully and am maintaining a healthy weight. But, as my colleague Amanda explained in her recent blog What Does Wellness Mean to You?, there is much more to wellness than what meets the eye.

In her blog, Amanda introduced the nine dimensions of wellness and the wellness wheel (shown below) promoted by The Ohio State University Office of Student Life. She encouraged readers to reflect on where they stand within each dimension of wellness, perhaps by using the self-assessment questions suggested by the University of Lincoln-Nebraska.

wellness wheel

When I reflect on my own wellness at this point in my life, eating healthfully is a high point. However, within the physical dimension of wellness, I actually fall short in other regards. My activity levels now are much lower than they were prior to and even during my pregnancy. Additionally, I am not sleeping well; not because I lack opportunities to sleep, but because I struggle to quiet my mind enough to achieve a true state of rest. These struggles both contribute to and stem from a lack of emotional wellbeing. I recognize that at this point in my life, I have yet to establish effective ways to cope with stress, and that needs to be my priority right now. I used to exercise daily as a means to cope with stress and decompress after my work day. Now, there are new demands on my time that make this difficult to do. Consequently, I have trouble quieting my mind at the end of the day. This can easily turn into a vicious cycle, as sleep deprivation can contribute to further stress as well as reduced wellbeing in the social, intellectual, creative and career dimensions.

If you haven’t done so recently, take a few moments this week to evaluate where you stand within each dimension of wellness. What are your strengths, and where do you have room to improve? Perhaps a clear priority will emerge, as was the case for me. You can use your priority area to find small and simple things you might do to become more well in that area.

Wherever you stand, remember that we all have strengths and weakness. Be kind to yourself and others, and don’t be too quick to judge a book by its cover.


Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu



Bohlen, A. (2019). What Does Wellness Mean to You?  Live Healthy, Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/04/04/what-does-wellness-me-to-you/

Harmon, M. (2017). How Well are You? Live Healthy, Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2017/08/18/how-well-are-you/

The Ohio State University, Student Wellness Center (2019). Nine Dimensions of Wellness. https://swc.osu.edu/about-us/nine-dimensions-of-wellness/

University of Lincoln Nebraska, Student Affairs (2019). 9 Dimensions of Wellbeing. https://resilience.unl.edu/9-dimensions-well-being

World Microbiome Day

world microbiome dayThursday, June 27th, is World Microbiome Day. The designation was conceived to raise awareness of the benefits of beneficial microbes (your good bacteria). A community of microbes is called a microbiome and it can be found in and on humans, animals, and in the environment.

Human microbiome is composed of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that are unique to every individual. Scientists are just now discovering how critical those microbes are to our health. They are impacted by food intake, how often we bathe, wash our hands, or use antibiotics. Your microbiome influences your immune system, how well you digest food, and act as a first line of defense against pathogens.

Microbial communities can be very different from one person to another. There is even a difference from one location to another on the same individual. Our microbial genomes record what we have eaten, where we have lived, and who we have been in contact with.  We literally have microbial “ecosystems” in and on different parts of our bodies that differ drastically from one to another and supply a wide range of functions.

Doctors used to think that microbes were bad things to be gotten rid of, like strep throat or measles. But most microbes do NOT make us sick. We are starting to recognize that microbes also keep us healthy, unless they become unbalanced. “Unbalance” can occur because of antibiotic usage, an unhealthy diet, or other variable. The end result may be an increased risk for chronic disease or health conditions such as:





Autoimmune disease


Inflammatory bowel diseases



The World Microbiome website contains valuable information regarding the role gut microbiota have on health, and the link between brain and gut. It highlights the importance of foods that help us take care of our gut microbiota, such as prebiotics, probiotics and fermented foods.

This year’s theme is Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics. It was chosen to remind people to use antibiotics responsibly. Antibiotics are one of the most prescribed medicines on the planet. Unfortunately, antibiotics don’t just kill harmful bacteria, they also kill off beneficial bacteria. Overuse of antibiotics, in people and animals, can lead to bacterial resistance.

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu








cardinal-2524695_1920THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. This has been a constant sound in our house lately.  There is a poor cardinal who sees his reflection in our front window and tries to attack himself.  Upon reflection, I have realized that I am like that cardinal. I repeat the same series of actions over and over and expect a different result and am usually surprised when the results are not different.

There are many situations in life where I seem to follow the same patterns—in relationships, at work, as a caregiver, trying to get healthier, and at the grocery store where I wander endlessly trying to make sure I have everything I need in my cart.  Do you find yourself in a similar situation as me and the cardinal? THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK.

The Stages of Change Model, developed by Prochaska and DiClemente, helps us to understand that we can make changes to our behavior patterns when we are able to recognize that it is a cyclical pattern and that there is just not a beginning and an end.  Some people are able to “stop cold turkey” when making behavior changes, but for most of us, we are like that cardinal and return again and again, hoping for different results or we take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.

The 6 stages of change that we move through are:

  • Pre-contemplation: no desire to change behavior, we don’t see it as a problem.
  • Contemplation: aware of the problem but still is not committed or motivated to change.
  • Preparation: wants to change, but has not yet started.
  • Action: change has begun and behavior has been maintained for fewer than six months.
  • Maintenance: behavior change has gone six months and beyond, and the adopted behavior has become a habit.
  • Relapse: we returns to previous behavior(s).

Changing our outlook can be difficult, but it can also be very rewarding and beneficial to not repeating the same behaviors over and over.  As I work towards my own personal growth, I sometimes find that I have to “step outside of myself”. It is important to look at how my behavior affects others. I have also found that it is helpful to have a friend be my accountability partner and share with me where they see that I am stuck in the cycle of change.

Sometimes you will also find yourself in the role as an accountability partner for another OR you may find yourself helplessly watching as someone hits the glass over and over.  I have watched the poor cardinal for months hit the window again and again.  I tried to look up ways to stop his behavior on the internet.  Nothing worked.  I feel bad for the poor little bird, and sometimes I feel frustrated that I cannot help. If you are a caregiver, you may yourself in a similar situation. As an accountability partner, it is key to recognize the person you care for must take charge of making their own behavior change. Being able to step back and offer support without getting too emotionally involved can be hard to do.  I cannot change what another does but I can change my approach to my friend or family member as I support them as they work through the stages of change cycle.

As I write this, the cardinal is going at his reflection in the window again. Thank goodness, I do not have to be like the cardinal and can take small steps each day in  a variety of situations to change the outcome of whatever I am currently facing.  Even though there may be days where I am like the bird and hit the window, I do not have to stay stuck in the THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK.

Written By: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County

Reviewed By: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Belmont County


Cherry, Kendra, The 6 Stages of Behavior Change: The Transtheoretical or Stages of Change Model, Very  https://www.verywellmind.com/the-stages-of-change-2794868

Behavioral Change Models, The Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change) http://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/MPH-Modules/SB/BehavioralChangeTheories/BehavioralChangeTheories6.html

Dellifield, J. Remley, D., Baker, S.Bates, J.S., Communication Strategies to Support a Family Member with Diabetes, 2019, https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5322

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/cardinal-bird-teacup-trees-red-2524695/ 


It’s Fair and Festival time! My grandchildren love to go see, touch,Everyone should wash hands after touching or being around animals. Wash hands with running water and soap at least 20 seconds, rinse and dry. and feed the farm animals.  Farm animals are usually a part of the festivities with petting zoos, agricultural fairs, open farms, and shows. This activity can put your children and you at higher risk for a foodborne illness or other diseases from animals.  How do you and your family stay healthy and safe?

  • Wash your hands. It is best to use warm water and soap but if you can’t find water and soap, use some hand wipes.
    • After touching animals.
    • After touching fences, buckets, or farm equipment.
    • After leaving the animal area.
    • After removing clothes and shoes, as these can have bacteria on them.
    • Before you eat or drink beverages after leaving the animal area.
    • After going to the bathroom.
    • Before preparing foods.
  • Do not eat food or drink beverages in animal areas or where animals are.
  • Cover any open wounds or cuts when visiting or working around farm animals.
  • Avoid bites, scratches, and kicks from farm animals.
  • Be sure to supervise children when they are around animals.
  • Prevent hand-to-mouth activities, such as nail biting, finger sucking, and eating dirt.
  • Help children wash hands well with soap after interaction with any farm animal.
  • Do not let children 5 years of age or younger handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or live poultry without supervision.
  • Do not allow toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items to be in animal areas.

All animals have germs and can make you sick. Don't eat, drink or put things in your mouth when around animals. Wash hands after visiting animals.Are farm animals really dangerous to your health?  For most people they are not a problem.  However, animals carry germs or may have intestinal disease.  The animals seem healthy but can harbor pathogens.  It is difficult to know if a surface, food, or water is contaminated and many pathogens can live for long periods of time.  You don’t need to touch an animal or get manure on your hands to be exposed.  “People who eat or drink in animal areas are almost five times more likely to get ill than people who don’t eat or drink there,” according to Jeff LeJeune, a veterinary researcher with Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center  (OARCD) in Wooster.

Children under the age of five, adults over the age of 65, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems are most at risk.  Common harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, Cryptosporodium, and Salmonella are ones that can spread from animals to people.   Thus, washing your hands after being around, touching, or looking at animals is important. Be sure to wash using warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds and rinse thoroughly.

Enjoy the festivals and seeing animals!

Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  (2015).  Farm Animals:  Prevention  Available at https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/farm-animals.html

Espinoza, M. (2005). “Disease-causing Germs at Common at Fairs.”  Ohio State University.   A printed article with quotes from Dr. Jeff LeJeune

Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Division of Health. (2014). Disease Prevention for Fairs and Festivals.  Available at http://www.nasphv.org/Documents/Public_settings_toolkit/DiseasePreventionForFairsToolkit_Kansas.pdf