Rawlins County

Month: June 2014

A New Look at Water

Woman drinking glass of waterSoaking up the sun while fishing at the lake is one of my favorite things to do in the heat of the summer. Often times, however, I find myself with a headache at the end of the day because I never seem to remember to drink enough water. I know water is very important because it is contained in every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies, but sometimes plain water just gets so blah.

When plain water isn’t doing it for people, they often turn to pop, lemonade,

assorted sliced and whole fruit

pr other sugary drinks. If you are not consuming enough plain water, but don’t want the extra sugar, try adding fresh fruit. If left to set, the fruit will add a subtle flavor to the water to give it a little more pizazz. If this isn’t sweet enough, you can add a teaspoon of sugar or other sweetener. This teaspoon of sugar with 16 calories is much better to consume than the 126 calories from sugar contained in the average soda. You can also use frozen fruit, letting it melt while you drink, or freeze fresh berries or citrus zest into ice cubes. Below is a recipe to try and links to other recipes.

Berry Water:

2 cups blueberries, raspberries and/or strawberries

A pitcher of water

A cup of ice


1. Add berries to the pitcher.

2. Gently press fruit with a spoon to release some of the juices.

3. Add ice to the pitcher, then fill with water, stir fruit to mix.

4. Serve immediately or chill, covered, in the refrigerator.


Cucumber Mint Water:


More ideas:


More information on the importance of drinking water is available from the CDCand K-State Research & Extension.

Rachel Juenemann is a K-State Research and Extension intern in Thomas County and will be a junior at Kansas State University. She is majoring in Nutrition & Health and Dietetics and plans on becoming a Registered Dietitian. She will look for a position in a rural community. At K-State she is very involved with the College of Human Ecology Ambassadors, and is a member of the Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society.

Reviewed by Lisa J. Martin, MPH, RD, LD, Shawnee County Extension Agent

Food Safety During Power Outages

We are so grateful for the rain we have received (and continue to receive) here lately!!  Unfortunately, sometimes rain can bring along hail, damaging winds and power outages.  It is important to keep food safety in mind with your refrigerators and freezers during down times.  In general, the best offense is a good defense!

Be prepared by hanging a thermometer in your refrigerator, knowing where you can purchase dry ice and keeping a few days of ready-to-eat foods that do not depend on heating or cooling, which depend on electricity.

When the power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.  Refrigerators will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is unopened.  Proper food storage requires refrigerators be kept at 40′ F or below.

Once the power is restored, check the temperatures inside both your refrigerator and freezer.  If an appliance thermometer was kept inside the refrigerator, confirm the temperature reads less than 40′ F.  If this is the case, the food is safe and may be kept.  If you do not have a thermometer in the appliance, all food packages must be checked individually.  You cannot rely on appearance or odor to determine whether the food is safe to keep.  If the food still contains ice crystals or is less than 40′ F it is safe to refreeze or cook.  Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40′ F for two hours or more.

For additional information, check out the Kansas State University Food Safety Page:



The War on Wheat

The War on Wheat

 Last summer, I vacationed at a retreat in Colorado where just about everyone was on a wheat and gluten-free diet. In fact, the retreat staff where I was staying had just read one of the latest diet books that proclaimed gluten as the new dietary villain, and they were all enthusiastically sharing their new eating plan with everyone. When the retreat director found out that I was a dietitian, she made sure that I knew there were a number of gluten-free foods on the menu. I was also lectured by the masseuse on how gluten and wheat were bad for us as I was trapped in the massage chair.

So why are people jumping on the gluten-free, wheat-free bandwagon? A number of books and television programs have popularized this diet fad by claiming that wheat is responsible for belly fat, gastrointestinal issues and mental health conditions like Alzheimer’s, depression and ADHD. However, there isn’t enough science to back up the authors’ claims. So, if you are thinking about eating gluten or wheat-free, here are the facts:

Celiac Disease, Wheat Allergy and Wheat Sensitivity/Gluten Intolerance

Wheat isn’t good for everyone. Just less than one percent of people in the United States suffer from an autoimmune condition called celiac disease. Certain protein fragments, (produced during digestion of wheat’s gluten proteins), severely damage the walls of the intestines. In addition, an estimated one-half of one percent of people in the U.S. are allergic to wheat, and unknown number of Americans have a less well-defined condition often characterized as wheat sensitivity or gluten intolerance. The key here is that you should be diagnosed with one of these conditions by your health care provider before eliminating these foods from your diet. People who have beendiagnosed with celiac disease, wheat allergy, or gluten intolerance should avoid eating foods that contain any type of wheat, and may have to avoid barley and rye which also contain gluten.

True celiac disease is wicked, and the diet is not fun to follow. People with it wish they could occasionally eat just one slice of bread but that one slice of bread will ravage their gut.  People without the disease may feel better eating gluten free but most likely they are experiencing the “halo” or placebo effect.

Belly Fat

Eating too many calories and not exercising contributes to belly fat, and it’s easy to eat too many refined grains found in pastries, snacks and other processed foods. So instead of eliminating all wheat, choose more whole grains. A recent study found that people who ate at least three servings of whole grains each day including wheat had 10 percent lower belly fat compared to people eating no whole grains.

Your Brain on Wheat

The claims about what effect wheat may have on the brain don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny either. The brain needs carbohydrates for energy, and grain foods are an excellent source. When you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, you will feel tired, unable to focus, irritable and may have headaches, and memory and learning problems.

Gut Health

Followers of these popular diets may say that they feel better when they give up wheat and as mentioned they may be experiencing a “halo” or placebo effect. However, when you eliminate grains from your diet, it’s difficult to get the fiber you need to maintain a healthy gut, immune system and overall health. Fiber helps with maintaining good blood sugar control and good blood cholesterol, and avoiding constipation. Fiber also serves as food for the friendly bacteria that keep your gut healthy.

Bottom Line

If you still want to try a gluten-free or wheat-free diet, look for other whole grains that you can include instead such as brown rice, quinoa, or popcorn. Visit the Whole Grains Council for more ideas and recipes. Keep watching – the research on gluten and related topics continues to examine some fascinating questions.  This topic is nowhere near run its course!

Many fads diets are hard to sustain in the long run because they are boring. Avoiding favorite foods may also be difficult when temptations arise as I witnessed at my retreat during an evening banquet. A luscious white flour pound cake with glazed peaches was served for dessert. I chuckled to myself as all the gluten-free dieters could not resist and eating wheat became okay.

For further reading:

The Great Gluten Panic: Risk assessments and facts:https://webapp.agron.ksu.edu/agr_social/eu_article.throck?article_id=173

The Gluten-Free Choice:http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/FCS3/FCS3564/FCS3564.pdf

Healthful Whole Grains: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/mf2560.pdf

In Focus: Gluten-Free: http://www.wheatfoods.org/channels/in-focus

Written by:

Lisa J. Martin, MPH, RD, LD
County Extension Agent-Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
K-State Research and Extension-Shawnee County

For more than 15 years, Lisa has enjoyed teaching Shawnee County adults and youth healthful eating on a budget. Her areas of expertise include: nutrition, infant feeding, maternal and child health, menu planning, food budgeting, food safety, healthful meals in minutes, weight management, and hunger and food security.

Reviewed by:

Dr. Sandy Procter, PhD, RD, LD
Extension Specialist, Kansas EFNEP  and FNP Coordinator
Department of Human Nutrition

Karen Blakeslee, MS
Coordinator-Rapid Response Center
Kansas State University

Let’s Get Crackin’

Whether you purchase your eggs from the local grocery store, market or down the nearest dirt road, it is important to understand the labeling on your product.  

Grade: Purchasing eggs that are Grade AA meet USDA quality standards for clean, well shaped eggs with no evidence of defects after candling and are less than 15 days old.  The eggs will drop down to Grade A after 15 days without temperature and humidity control. After thirty days the eggs will decrease to grade B.  Eggs older than thirty days cannot be sold.

Size: Size is determined by the weight of one dozen eggs.  Jumbo eggs have a weight of 30 oz per dozen, Extra large is 27 oz per dozen, Large 24 oz, Medium 21 oz and small eggs have a cumulative weight of 18 oz.

Egg packaging and labeling should include: Grade and size.  Name and address of farmer, producer or seller.    Package date and freshness date (not to exceed thirty days from date of packaging).  Safe handling instructions.

Check out the link below for  safety precautions with farm fresh eggs.
Food Safety Checklist for purchasing local farm eggs from University of Minnesota Extension:

Playin’ In The Sunshine

Nothing beats the warmth of Kansas spring sunshine after a long, cold winter! Come July, nothing protects from the sweltering Midwest heat either!  As an active outdoor enthusiast, I love to get out and enjoy the Midwest sunshine, but am cognisant of the associated health risks of sun exposure.  There is a  wide variety of literature geared towards public relations, many of which are geared toward specific audiences.  According to a 2013 study on the “agenda” of news coverage on tanning and skin cancers, reports that  support pro-sun protection and outlines susceptibility to skin cancer is geared toward older adults who feel tans are unhealthy.  In contrast, literature that is more ambiguous regarding sun protection and are more pro tan tend to relate to the benefits of Vitamin D and reach a younger crowd.1

Vitamin D is a conditionally essential fat soluble vitamin that can be consumed through dietary sources such as fortified milk and fatty fish.  Deficiency of Vitamin D is related to osteomalacia or rickets and is commonly seen in developing countries.  Breakdown components of Vitamin  D circulate the body’s system and are involved in uptake of phosphate and calcium.  Vitamin D is also related to positive immune function and is known to partake in the etiology of several cancers such as breast cancer.  In addition to dietary sources, Vitamin D can be synthesized from cholesterol with the help of natural sunlight.  

Research suggests that Vitamin D supplementation may be necessary to meet the needs of breastfeeding infants.  25-hydroxyvitamin serum in infants is directly related to Vitamin D content of breast milk.  Studies indicated that supplementation of up to ten times the current recommended daily intake of Vitamin D is needed to provide sufficient transfer to infants.2
If you are a new breastfeeding mother, or just interested in supplementing with Vitamin D, please see you doctor before beginning a regimen!  One study from New Zealand observed the differences in labeling and actual content of Vitamin D supplements.  Results showed that less than sixty percent of the non-registered, non-prescription supplements complied with their labeling.  These supplements are not strictly regulated and may contain less eight percent up to over two hundred percent of their labeled doses.3  As Vitamin D overdose is possible and potentially dangerous, avoiding OTC supplements is a wise choice!

Health Commun. 2013 March 13. Agenda-Setting Effects of Sun-Related News Coverage on Public Attitudes and Beliefs About Tanning and Skin Cancer.  Dixon, H. Warne, C. Scully, M. Dobbinson, S. Wakefield, M.

J. Hum Lact. 2013 March 4.  Maternal Vitamin D Supplementation to Meet the Needs of the Breastfed Infant: A Systematic Review.  Thiele, DK.  Senti, JL. Anderson, CM.

J. Nutr Health Aging. 2013 Feb 17 (2): 158-61.  Evaluation of vitamin D medicines and dietary supplements and the physiochemical analysis of selected formulations.  Garg, S. Sabri, D. Kanji, J. Rakkar, PS. Lee, Y. Naidoo, N. Svirskis, D