Why I’m Grateful for The Farm Life

By Rashel Clark- Utah State University Dietetics Student

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I am currently attending Utah State University and will graduate in May ready to begin my career as a Registered Dietitian. I began my life in agriculture, and I want to continue promoting nutrition and agriculture throughout my life. Growing up my family consisted of 2 parents, 5 brothers and sisters, 200-300 head of milking Holsteins, 4 dogs, 2 horses, and a handful of pigs and chickens. With fall in full swing it brings back holiday memories on the farm.

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Thanksgiving. That one word immediately brings saliva to my mouth and pictures of a table full of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, roasted vegetables, and my personal favorite-sweet potatoes.

I remember sitting at the table when I was 10 years old waiting for each of my 40 aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and grandma to finish the long lasting tradition of stating one thing we are thankful for before we are allowed to dig in. One of my relatives said something that didn’t make sense to my young brain, “I am grateful for growing up and learning to work hard on our family farm.” I was flabbergasted at this statement. At this point being a farm kid just meant a lot of hard work, parties missed, sleepless nights, early mornings, sweat, sunburns, and frozen limbs. I never understood how you could be grateful to grow up on a farm- until I became a little older and wiser.

So for those who call the sound of trains and freeway traffic home here is a taste of life farmer style. It will hopefully help you understand why those of us born into agriculture seem to always find our way back. For those of you who can relate, I hope this brings back good memories!

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Why I am grateful for the farm life

1. I know three ways to cut twine without a knife.
2. When all the other kids were building tree houses I built straw forts.
3. When I see the acronym PTO I think of a tractor and not paid time off.
4. I prayed for rain instead of sunshine.
5. When my friends said look at the pretty flowers on the hill (dyers woad), I went into a panic as suppressed childhood memories of picking that flower ca
me flooding back.
6. The first time I drove, I was too short to reach the pedals so I had to stand.
7. Talking about manure and breeding aren’t unusual dinner conversations.
8. There is no such thing as “junk,” just items to store in piles because they will be useful later.
9. I thought I was pretty cool when I could move a sprinkler pipe on my own.
10. Sleeping in is considered 6am.

These are just 10 reasons why I am grateful for the agriculture life. What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

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Apple Pie Parfait

Today is National Parfait day, and to celebrate, I decided to whip up some Apple Pie Parfaits. These tasty little treats, are quick, easy, and perfect for breakfast, snacks, or dessert.

To start I made my basic granola. I use this granola a lot and my family and friends will eat it by the handfuls! You could also use your favoirte granola recipe or store bought if you prefer.

After the granola is cooled, just layer apple pie filling, vanilla yogurt, granola, and repeat until you dish is full. Super easy! To make this a little lighter, use fresh apples instead of pie filling and low-fat yogurt. Greek yogurt would also be a great options for boosting the protein. However you make it, this fall inspired parfait is sure to be a hit! 

Apple Pie Parfait

Basic Granola Ingredients (10 cups)

  • 8 c. oats
  • ½ c. wheat germ
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 c. butter
  • 2/3 c. honey
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Ingredients 1 small parfait:

  • 1/4 c. apple pie filling
  • 1/2 c. vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 c. granola

Method:

Heat oven to 350. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Mix oats, wheat germ, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Heat butter, honey, sugar, and vanilla to a boil. Let boil one minute and then pour over dry mixture. Mix until evenly coated. Bake for 15-20 minutes until granola is just golden brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Store leftovers (if there is any) in a sealed container.

Once granola is cooled, layer 2 tbsp. of apple pie filling on the bottom of you bowl or cup, layer 1/4 c. vanilla yogurt, then 2 tbsp. of granola, repeat and enjoy!

Printer Friendly Apple Pie Parfait

-Megan

 

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3 Impressive Thanksgiving Sides

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? If you are in charge of the Thanksgiving meal, it can seem overwhelming. So many sides, desserts, drinks, appetizers, not to mention the Turkey. Whether you are making it all or just bringing a dish, these sensational Thanksgiving sides are easy, quick, yet impressive. With secret ingredients like cauliflower in the mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes smothered in butter, you will have the “health enthusiast” and the “go all outers” asking for seconds!

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Lets first start with the thanksgiving staple-mashed potatoes. For this recipe, we are adding cauliflower. We do this first to vary our veggies and second because cauliflower has less calories and carbohydrates than potatoes, plus is packed full of nutrients.

With just a little steaming/boiling, mixing and broiling you have a quick, impressive side dish. You can serve this in one large bowl or individual portions depending on preference (makes about 6-7 cups).

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Cheesy Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium heads of cauliflower (about 2 lbs each)
  • 1/4 + cup milk (more or less for desired consistency)
  • 1-2 cups hot mashed potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Season to taste with snipped herbs: rosemary, chives, thyme, etc

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Break cauliflower into small florets and steam until tender.  Mash cooked cauliflower with milk as you would mash potatoes. Stir in 1-2 cups mashed potatoes (up to half potatoes half cauliflower) and half the cheese. Add additional milk for desired consistency; season to taste.  Scoop Cauliflower and potatoes into mounds in baking dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until hot throughout and cheese is golden brown. . (Alternate cooking method; cook cauliflower and potatoes together.)

 

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Our next side dish is the green beans. With all the heavy food at thanksgiving, it can be nice to just have some fresh veggies without the casserole. These green beans are light, and full of flavor! With sautéed mushrooms, a sprinkle of pine nuts and parmesan cheese, you won’t miss the heavy sauce. The other benefit is, it is all done on the stove and leaves you oven free for other dishes!

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Sautéed Green Beans and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound green beans
  • 4 ounce portabella mushrooms
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 clove crushed garlic, more or less to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, shredded

Method:

Snip the ends off the green beans, wash and set aside. Cut mushroom into cubes. In a large skillet sauté mushrooms in 1-tablespoon butter until lightly browned on edges. Place mushrooms in a bowl and set aside. Add green beans to skillet, add 1/4-cup water, cover and simmer 4-6 minutes. Remove lid from pan and cook until moisture evaporates. Add 1-2 teaspoons butter and garlic; stir fry until almost crisp tender (as needed, periodically cover with a lid to generate moisture). Add mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, continue to cook until beans are crisp tender. Place in serving bowl, squeeze approximately 1/2 lemon over beans, sprinkle with pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

 

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Our next side is pure indulgence. These baked sweet potatoes slices are covered in butter, sugar, and pecans. They take a little time in the oven, but overall are easy and turn out gorgeous. Serve a couple slices to each person, or have a big tray for the taking. It takes about 1 cookie sheet per sweet potato, to fit all the slices, so plan to cook more than one sheet at a time. Your guests are going to love this one!

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Crispy Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarse chopped pecans
  • Dash of Cayenne pepper

 Method: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees; line baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Brush potatoes with 2-tablespoons melted butter. Arrange slices on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Bake 15 minutes, turn slices; bake 15 minutes longer or until tender.  (May refrigerate at this point and finish later).  Mix together remaining 2-tablespoons butter with the brown sugar; brush over sweet potatoes. Lightly sprinkle with cayenne pepper (to taste). Sprinkle with chopped nuts; bake 10 minutes longer or until glaze is crisp.

Bon Appétit

-Megan

 

Print Friendly-Cheesy Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Printer Friendly-Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes
Printer Friendly-Sauteed Green Beans 

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Can Diabetics Have Dairy?

November is national diabetes month, and while diabetes education takes place around the country everyday, this is a great time for awareness and discussion around what this disease means for people who have it and their families. As a Registered Dietitian, I have the opportunity to meet with many people diagnosed with diabetes. They are often counting carbohydrates, and cautiously avoiding dairy foods. When I ask why dairy isn’t part of their diet, their response centers around sugar. They are concerned that dairy foods have at least 12 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Carbohydrate grams are precious for people with diabetes, and when aiming for just 30-45 grams per meal, they might opt for an extra portion of pasta and a diet soda instead of milk. Why this may seem like a sound practice, milk is an important part of the diet for individuals with or without Diabetes.

Father Son Milk Mustache

For those with diabetes, nutrient-rich food choices are essential, and dairy is a nutrient powerhouse containing protein, carbohydrate, potassium, calcium, vitamin D, and B-vitamins. Protein, in particular, slows carbohydrate absorption and helps control blood sugar. Dairy foods have also been shown to improve insulin resistance. So while dairy does contain carbohydrates, the protein it contains naturally keeps those carbohydrates from being absorbed too quickly and spiking blood sugar. This is key for those with diabetes. Protein-rich foods also help keep us full longer (satiety), which has been shown to help with weight loss – another plus for those with diabetes. For diabetics who are overweight, losing just 7% of total body weight can dramatically improve symptoms associated with the disease.

For those without diabetes, eating a diet that includes dairy has been shown to decrease the risk of developing type two diabetes in a variety of populations. The reason behind this is still unknown, and researchers have hypothesized that it might be dairy’s glycemic index, calcium content, or the synergy of its components. While we may not know the exact metabolic mechanism, dairy consumption continues to be associated with decreased-risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Research Summaries

Take Home Message

  • Dairy foods help optimize health and reduce disease risk.
  • Without dairy, it can be difficult to stay within a calorie budget and get enough calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients, so keep it in your diet!
  • Health professionals encourage 3 servings of dairy a day for those with and without diabetes.
  • Enjoy this delicious food group and all its benefits for a lifetime of health.

-Megan

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Gossners Food: Next Stop on Our Cheesy Adventure

Gossner

What started out as a little Swiss cheese making plant in 1966, has turned into an industry-leading family business that is one of the country’s largest Swiss cheese manufacturers. Gossner Foods offers several varieties of Swiss cheese, ranging from a mild Baby Swiss to the full-bodied flavor of their European- Style Old World Swiss. They also produce shelf-stable milk in a variety of flavors, small batches of specialty ice cream, butter, and whipping cream.

350 dairy farm families operate the 190 dairy farms in Utah and Idaho that service Gossner Foods’ two plants (Logan, UT and Burley, ID). Owner and CEO, Dolores Wheeler, has always operated on the “handshake” principle. She doesn’t have contracts with her farmers but believes in mutual trust and respect, feeling that if the relationship is good it will grow and prosper, if not, then the farmer is under no binding obligation. The philosophy has worked well, and the company has a wonderful reputation among the local farming community.

Touring their large, state-of-the-art plant was a great experience and different from our recent cheesy adventures. Because they are a leading Swiss cheese producer, everything was done on a larger scale than our precious tours. Large mixing vats and custom-made equipment are essential to the company’s quality operation.

Making each variety of cheese is a unique process that follows time-proven recipes with specialized equipment and specific aging protocols. Because of this, many large cheese manufacturers specialize in a single variety. Gossner specializes in Swiss and Muenster, a fresher, soft cheese.

The Process of Making Swiss & UHT Milk

After our tour we had the chance to try many of their products at their onsite store. In addition to their Swiss, they offer many other cheese varieties and economy end cuts of cheese at a great price. They also offer homemade ice cream (available only at their Logan store), fresh butter and handmade cheese spreads. At the store you can stock up on shelf-stable milk in a variety of flavors (Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla, Rootbeer, Cookies & Cream, Orange Cream, Banana, Mango) and fresh cheese curds – made every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you happen to stop by during the holidays, you can pick up a quart of seasonal Holiday Nog – a favorite that sells out quickly!

The Store:

1051 North 1000 West, Logan, UT  84321 | 8:00 am – 6:00 pm Monday through Saturday

Make sure to check out this premium dairy producer!

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Frittata – The Perfect “Leftover” Dish


As part of a new series, we have decided to feature recipes! One of our staff members, Becky Low, has a weekly segment on KSL’s Studio 5, where she has been sharing tasty recipes for almost 20 years.

Becky Low

Becky Low

This week, I decided to highlight her Utah Frittata. If you have never made a frittata before, you are going to fall in love with this easy, quick, tasty breakfast. I called it a leftover frittata, because you can put almost anything inside. It is the perfect way to use up a few of those leftover veggies, before your weekly shopping trip. This Frittata makes an economical breakfast, a gourmet luncheon, or an easy super dish.

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I had some leftover green onions, tomatoes, a green pepper, and bacon, so that is what I used in this frittata, but the options are endless. These are a few of Becky’s recommended fillings:

  • vegetables: sliced mushrooms, chopped onion, sliced zucchini, spinach, strips of bell pepper, sun dried tomatoes, asparagus, frozen O’Brien hash brown potatoes, or other vegetables of choice.
  • meats: diced ham, sausage, cubed chicken, or other meats of choice.
  • cheeses: cheddar, mozzarella, smoked gouda, parmesan, crumbled feta, or other favorite cheese and combination of cheeses.

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Once I had chosen my fillings, I mixed up my eggs and milk, chopped up my veggies and meat, and sautéed my peppers and bacon on the stove top. Fritatta’s traditionally start on the stove and finish in the oven, so an oven-safe pan or skillet is key.  I chose my beloved cast iron skillet – everything tastes better in cast iron, right? (Nutrition Tip: Cooking with cast iron is a great way to boost dietary iron, especially for those who are iron deficient!)

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After only 20 minutes in the oven, I had a protein packed, colorful, nutritious breakfast. This recipe will have your family eating veggies for breakfast and begging for seconds. If you happen to have leftovers, they reheat well in a toaster oven.

I love that frittatas are easy enough for a weekday, but pretty enough for a weekend brunch. Enjoy!

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Leftover Frittata

Basic Use-What-You-Have Ingredients: 
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 cups filling ingredients
8 eggs
1/4 cup cream, half n half, or milk
1 cup shredded cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

* I used 2 strips bacon, 1 bell pepper, 3 green onions, 2 tomatoes, and Queso Fresco Fuego Verde Cheese.

Method:
Over medium heat, saute vegetables or other filling ingredients until tender. Beat together eggs and cream or milk; stir in half the cheese; pour over filling ingredients. Cook according to one of the methods below.

BAKE: Use a 10-inch non-stick oven proof skillet, cake pan, pie plate, or cast iron pan. Preheat oven to 375° F; spray pan with non-stick spray; pour frittata ingredients into prepared pan, top with remaining cheese.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until center is set and Frittata is puffy.

STOVETOP BROIL: Use a broil safe skillet or pan (no non-stick surfaces), such as stainless steel, cast iron, or other similar pans. Saute vegetables and other filling ingredients as directed above. Beat together eggs and cream or milk, stir in half the cheese, pour eggs over filling and stir to mix. Cook on stovetop over medium heat; while cooking, periodically gently push sides of frittata toward the center of pan, slightly tilt pan to allow liquid eggs to fill the gap. Cook until bottom is set and center is almost cooked. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place pan under broiler for 3-6 minutes or until top is golden brown, center is set, and frittata is puffy.

Printer Friendly: Leftover Frittata

Check out the original and browse our recipe archive here.

-Megan

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NFL QB Alex Smith Inspires Kids Through Utah’s Fuel Up to Play 60 School Assemblies

This fall, all around Utah, NFL Quarterback Alex Smith has made a virtual appearance in our Fuel Up to Play 60 Assemblies. Video chatting with kids from elementary school through Jr. High, Alex interacts with students, Trudy the cow, and our Fuel Up to Play 60 coach, Ashley, to bring great messages and fun into the schools. These assemblies have been a great way to raise awareness about the power of Fuel Up to Play 60, a program started by Utah’s Dairy Farmers through the National Dairy Council and the National Football League.  As the nation’s largest in-school wellness program, Fuel Up to Play 60 is inspiring kids to make changes at their school.

“The messages from the FUTP60 program – being active, eating healthy, and making positive changes in ourselves – are things that everyone can relate to and benefit from. Plus it is so much fun!” – Ashley Huntington (Fuel Up Coach & Dairy Council Events Director)

“We know kids need to eat right and be more active. Moving more and eating right helps kids fight childhood obesity. We’re here to help. We are we engaged in these assemblies, because healthy can be fun! From the video chat with NFL Quarter back Alex Smith, to Trudy Moo the cow showing kids how to dance – even the milk mustache contest with the principal, the kids love it and they learn. Kids are our future and the Fuel Up assemblies teach kids how to have fun while they learn habits for a lifetime.” – Becky Low (Dairy Council Nutrition Education)

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