Archive for December, 2015

Do you plan on getting your spending under control in 2016? We know we should accounting-761599__180set a budget, cut back on expenses, and monitor purchases, but somehow it doesn’t work. We try and yet we tend to fail.

What causes us to overspend even when we know what we should do? Researchers are finding answers which lie in psychological impulses and blind spots that are tough to recognize and overcome in our day-to-day lives. Here are some blind spots:

  •  We all know we need a certain amount in savings. Do you manage to save a certain amount each month? One survey found 68% of the people saidrestaurant-727992__180 Dining Out kept them from saving each month. Clothes/shopping was the answer for 37% with Entertainment for 35%. Hobbies 29% and Travel 24% also made a difference.
  • Don’t shop when you are hungry, even for other purchases besides food. Research shows we spend more when we are hungry, even if it isn’t food.
  • Some people view “willpower” as limited and will reward themselves with unhealthy items like junk food, procrastination and overspending. Better ways to reward ourselves would be to engage in sports, go work out at the gym, meditate, or take a nature walk. Avoid being put in tempting situations if rewarding yourself is common after a stressful event. Don’t go shopping after a bad day; instead, go to the gym.
  • Unhappy people tend to save less and spend more, focusing on the short-term. Whereas, happy people tend to be more future oriented and pursue goals saving more and spending less now. They believe they will benefit from cheaper prices in the future. Thus, wait until you are in a good mood to make financial decisions.
  • We are really good about forecasting future income but not realistic on future expenses calarge-home-389271__180using us to set uncontrolled budgets. We think about income growth but don’t think about rising expenses, so we end up thinking we can afford the more expensive house or car when we can’t. We know expenses will go up, but we ignore those expenses when making the decision.
  • Many people have a financial blind spot when it comes to their home. The more the house is worth the more people think they have extra money to spend. Of course, the more their house is worth the more money they can borrow against it. However, until they sell the house they don’t have that actual wealth. It is recommended we view our homes as a place to live and not as an investment or financial asset. It is dangerous to max out the home-equity line of credit.

Being aware of what makes us less financial savvy can help us. Now, we just need to follow the advice. What changes are you going to make?

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

Reviewer: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension


Goldsmith, B. (2012). 7 Tips About Money and Emotions, Psychology Today.com, Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201209/7-tips-about-money-and-emotions

Wells, C. (2015). The Hidden Reasons People Spend Too Much, Wall Street Journal, November 2, 2015 Available at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-hidden-reasons-people-spend-too-much-1446433200

Wells, C. and Rivero, T. (2015). The Hidden Reasons People Spend Too Much, Wall Street Journal Video, November 2, 2015 Available at: http://www.wsj.com/video/the-hidden-reasons-people-spend-too-much/982B7006-8CBA-424D-980F-19F1D5DB2627.html and also available at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wBwVKroQTY


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swiss chard

I recently attended a national health conference that focused on the relationship between food and chronic disease. We’ve known for a long time that one of the most protective lifestyle choices you can make is to eat a predominately plant-based diet.  MyPlate, the latest eating guide from the USDA, recommends that half your plate be filled with fruits and vegetables.  What current research shows, though, is that the addition of leafy greens to one’s diet is particularly protective.

I have tried to be more adventuresome in my choice of greens, adding kale, oak leaf lettuce, and baby spinach to my plate the last few years. However, a new (to me anyways) favorite is Swiss chard.  My neighbor grew some last summer, and I was invited to share in her bumper crop.  I was amazed at how mild and tasty it is, and made the decision to grow some in my own garden this year.

Health Benefits

Animal studies have shown that Swiss chard has the potential to regulate blood sugar. A flavonoid in chard inhibits an enzyme that breaks down carbs, so fewer carbs get broken down and blood sugar is able to stay more level. Chard also contains a good amount of fiber and protein.  Foods high in fiber and protein stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing digestion.

Ancient Greeks and Romans prized chard for its medicinal properties. It provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that reduce inflammation. Inflammation increases your risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and arthritis. Not a milk drinker? Chard is bone-protective with its high levels of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K.  Foods rich in K help prevent osteoporosis.

Leafy Green Requirements

Every week, teens and adults should eat at least two cups of dark green leafy vegetables. Children 4-8 years old should eat one cup and children 2-3 should eat a half cup. When shopping for greens (and this includes chard), try to purchase fresh, or better yet, grow your own.


Do not wash chard until ready to eat. It should be stored in a tight plastic bag with as little air as possible. Chard can be eaten raw or cooked; it is actually a little sweeter when it is boiled and eaten warm. If you get a big crop next summer and can’t eat it all, blanch the leaves and freeze for winter enjoyment.

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





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Many people go into a hibernation mode during the winter months, and end up gaining extra pounds after all the food and drink. Physical activity is important every time of the year, and the CDC recommends least 150 minutes a week of moderate activities (like brisk walking) and at least 2 days a week of strength training. Regular physical activity helps manage stress, weight gain, and can prevent the development of chronic disease. Many people workout at a gym during the winter months and don’t venture out much. However, there are many health benefits of spending time outside regardless of the season. Spending time in nature can boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, improve your moods, increase your ability to focus, increase your recovery from surgery, increase your energy level, an improve sleep.

Winter physical activity requires some precautions. During cold days, hats and gloves are the most important clothing articles since they protect body parts that are easily frostbitten. Around 30-40% of body heat is lost through your head. Dress in appropriate layers, so when you get hot, you can remove layers of clothes. Consider a tight inner layer made from synthetic materials such as polypropylene, which will wick moisture away from the skin. If walking on the roadside, make sure to have reflective clothing, especially during the darker winter months. Don’t forget to bring water, and drink fluids before and after exercising. You can become just as dehydrated in cold weather as hot! Don’t forget about sunscreen as well, if you will be out for long periods.

The best time to enjoy the great outdoors is in the winter! Go for a hike, snowshoe, cross country ski, sled, or just get outside! The cold air is refreshing, and will raise your metabolism to burn off some of those holiday calories. You can enjoy the solitude of many national and state parks. You may see wildlife like coyotes, owls, waterfowl, and other birds that you wouldn’t normally see when parks are crowded. Without leaves on the trees, you’ll have the opportunity for scenic views on the ridges of hilltops. Ice formations are spectacular in places with rock formations, such as the Hocking Hills. An added bonus- no bugs or poison Ivy!!!

Consider exploring a hiking trail nearby. In Ohio, we have the Buckeye Trail. The trail is about 1500 miles, runs around the perimeter of Ohio, and is marked by a blue blaze. The trail consists of 26 sections, each section named after a town or feature that it runs through. The trail traverses the diverse topologies and geographies of Ohio, including the southern and eastern Appalachian foothills, the western plains, and the northern Earie Basin. The trail also meanders through many small towns but also large cities such as Dayton where it passes through the Five Rivers Metro Park and aviation museums. Consider getting a fitness tracker like a Fitbit, and log in your steps or miles on the trail. Many Appalachian Trail hikers complete “sections” of the trail at different time points. Consider hiking sections of the Buckeye trail and see how many miles you can log in.

Happy trails!!






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

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.


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The holidays are here with celebrations in full swing.  While sugar plums and candy canes may symbolize this special time of year, the winter holidays wouldn’t be as festive without the fruits of the season.


While summer brings a bounty of berries and an abundance of apples is harvested in the fall, nothing compares to a juicy ripe pear or a refreshing tart grapefruit.  Not only do these natural beauties taste good but they pack a powerhouse of nutrients as well. A half of a grapefruit has only 52 calories, 2 grams of fiber and has 64% daily value of vitamin C.    One cup of whole cranberries has 46 calories and 4.6 grams of fiber while a half-cup of pomegranate arils (seed/juice sacs) weighs in with 72 calories and 3.5 grams of fiber.  A medium-sized pear has only 102 calories but is an excellent source of fiber with 6 grams and is also a good source of vitamin C.

Winter fruit also adds color and pizzazz to any holiday dish.  Here are some ideas for bringing out the star quality in fruit:

  • Winter jewel salad – combine colorful fruits such as blood orange sections, pear slices, and seeded kumquats in a clear glass bowl and sprinkle with sliced pomegranate arils.
  • Cake topping – cook 2 parts fresh cranberries in a pan with 1 part water, a little sugar and a touch of cinnamon until mixture boils and cranberries pop and soften. Pour over sliced pound cake.
  • Add a touch of elegance to brunch with pink grapefruit. Sprinkle light brown sugar on pink grapefruit halves and broil until they are a light golden color.
  • Winter fruit compote – combine cubed pear, rhubarb and apples with cinnamon, grated orange peel and a little orange juice in a pan and simmer until softened. Serve hot or cold.
  • Sprinkle pomegranate arils on a tossed greens or spinach salad to add color and crunch.
  • Don’t forget dried fruits! They can be added to a cheese platter or be mixed with nuts for a healthy snack.
  • Add some sparkle to your holiday beverages with cranberry or pomegranate juice.
  • A simple basket or bowl of fruit is festive and adds color to any table.

Since these fruits are in season, they will be more affordable at the grocery store.  However, don’t hesitate to substitute canned fruit for fresh if necessary.  Look for fruits that are packed in water or light syrup to reduce added sugar.  Canned fruits can also be rinsed in cold water to dilute the packing liquid.

Written by:  Jenny Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewed by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

Source(s):  Fruits and Veggies: More Matters; Entertaining and Healthy Cooking with Fruits and Veggies:  Holidays 2015.

American Institute for Cancer Research, Holiday Recipes from AICR.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Nutrition Information for Raw Fruits.


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PearsThe cooler weather makes me think about winter and one of my favorite fruits, pears. Pears are a high source of fiber (eat the skin) and a high source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects cells in the body from damage by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are produced in the body when food is broken down, or by environmental factors such as cigarette smoke and radiation. Free radicals cause cell damage and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Check the Neck – for Ripenesspear check the neck for ripeness
Did you know that the pear is one fruit that ripens after harvest? An easy way to tell if your pear is ripe is to gently push on the neck of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, it is ripe.
Store un-ripened fruit in a paper bag at room temperature. Place pears on your counter (not in refrigerator) to ripen. Some pears change color when they ripen but many do not. Once your pears ripen, store them in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Powerhouse – 1 Medium Pear
Total Calories – 103
Dietary Fiber – 5.5 grams
Vitamin C – contains 13% of your daily value
Intrigued by this fruit?

Try a salad topped with pear slices. Check out this video from Boston University for easy steps to a yummy salad, Pear Carpaccio which is a salad topped with pears.
Many restaurants serve salads topped with pears, walnuts, cheese, and dressing.

Top Ten ways to Enjoy Pears include:

• Pears for breakfast. Try the Rise and Shine Cobbler for a quick and easy breakfast.
• Serve pears as a snack. Slice ripe pears and enjoy. Pack pears for a snack at work or in your lunch.
• Pears for dinner. Try this Pear Bistro Salad that includes chicken breast for a great meal.
• Ohio State University, Student Wellness Center shares this yummy recipe for Baked Pears that you can fix in your microwave.Baked Pears

So the next time you are at the store, “Check the Neck” of a pear, put it in your cart to enjoy!


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

Reviewed by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu







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christmas tree

As the holiday season approaches, requests are made to participate in “Secret Santa” at work, office parties, “Ugly Sweater” contests, and for the kids, “Elf on the Shelf”. Add to that list decorating, cooking, shopping and gift wrapping, inventory, and end of year reports at work. That’s a lot to juggle from now thru the end of the year. To help you stay sane, try a strategic approach to reduce stress, while still balancing work-life responsibilities during the holidays:

  1.  Set Priorities– Go through the task of ranking your priorities. Is your top priority family time? Volunteer work? After you establish your priorities, you will be able to say no to events that don’t make the list (or at least put time limits on your participation).
  2. Do a Time Study – For one week, keep a log of how your time is spent. Log general groups of tasks that include activities such as errands, housework, shopping, cooking, and so forth; then total your column times. Did the way you spent your time align with your priorities? If not, adjust your schedule to bring your life back into balance.
  3. Set Limits on Work Hours – This is easier said than done, but if work-life balance is important to you, then set limits on the hours that you are willing to work and enforce them. Maybe that means leaving the office no later than 5 pm, and/or no working on the weekends. As the holidays approach, it’s important to carve out extra hours for all of those seasonal tasks, as well as keeping time for you to exercise and relax. If you’re someone that usually works late hours, communicate the temporary change to co-workers.
  4. Get Help – Is cleaning the house, running errands or baking taking up a large amount of time? Consider sourcing out some of those chores. It may be a better use of your time to pay someone to do a few of those tasks – such as purchasing cookies from a neighbor that likes to bake. If you are not able to hire out, scale back your menu, have a potluck or rethink hosting every party.
  5.  Unplug – Turn off the social media and emails. Don’t check your work emails until you are back at work. If you can’t forgo checking emails, set limits for when you will check work email.
  6.  Get Moving – If exercise didn’t originally make your priority list, be good to yourself and schedule it back in. This will boost your energy level and improve your mood!

Work-life balance is an ongoing process. Keep your priorities on task and just do your best. Priorities will change as your life changes – especially during the holidays. Periodically reassess your priorities and take inventory of your work-life balance.
Written by: Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD, LD. Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Donna Green, MA, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu
Sources: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/25-ways-find-joy-balance-during-holidays

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National “Dine In Day” is today (December 3, 2015), but dining in with your family is important all the time. “Dine In Day” is sponsored by the AmeriDinner with Familycan Association of Family and Consumer Sciences to encourage families to reconnect and dine in. If you aren’t ready for “Dine In Day” yet, start planning now so you can begin dining in more often with your family. Numerous research studies report the benefits for children to eat family meals together:

  • Children who eat as a family make healthier food choices and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Teens that eat with their families are less likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and use illegal drugs.
  • Eating with families gives teen’s better self-esteem and are less likely to be depressed.
  • Young children model their parents and other adults; by eating meals together they are more likely to eat healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat proteins, fruits, and dairy foods.
  • Dining together builds communication between generations and bonds families, benefiting family members of all ages.

To get your family back in the habit of eating together and dining at home try starting small. Plan just two days a week that you are going to eat together (if you are eating out all the time now). Involve the whole family in the meal planning and preparation – ask others what they want to have or what sounds good for this week. Be sure to eat at the table together, eliminate distractions like TV or phones, and discuss positive/neutral topics.

If you don’t know where to start try these websites for inexpensive and quick family meal ideas:

What’s Cooking, USDA Mixing Bowl

Share Our Strength’s, Cooking Matters

Food Hero

Let us know what you decide to fix when you “Dine In”. In the comment section you can message us your favorite family meals or use the #hashtags #FCSday, #healthyfamselfie, or #DineInDay.


American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences: http://www.aafcs.org/FCSday/

Washington State Dairy Council: http://ext100.wsu.edu/clark/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2014/02/eattogethereatbetter.pdf

University of Florida, Institute of Food and Science, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1061

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewers: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County and Daniel Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension .

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