Nutrition and Health

Online food preservation classes and local workshop offered

Have you always wanted to learn how to preserve food safely?  Do you want to update your current food preservation skills? MU Extension is now offering an online Food Preservation course! This course is filled with everything you need to know to get started in canning and preserving your own foods.  In this course you will learn the science behind canning and preserving, how to get started, and the various methods of canning and preserving.  Learn the importance of reducing safety risks and about all the benefits of taking part in this age-old tradition.  Learn how to safely preserve food at home from a trusted, research-based source. Learn the methods online, and then practice your skills at a hands-on workshop near you! 

To register go to

Your next local work shop is on Thursday, June 7, 2018 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1700 Bagnell Dam Boulevard, Lake Ozark.  Registration for hands-on workshop available within the course.

Flyer (PDF)

Beat the Winter Blahs

By Amy Bartels, Nutrition & Health Education Specialist, MU Extension

Call it what you will, but many of us start to feel restless and even a bit anxious this time of year.  As the temperatures tease us with drastic swings, many of us are forced to spend extended time indoors where we tend to be less active.  This sedentary pattern makes us feel sluggish and tired, thus creating a cycle that can affect our interest in activities and our overall mood.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, shorter days in the wintertime actually causes our bodies to produce more melatonin, which makes us sleepier.  Our eating habits also follow the season.  In colder months, we tend to eat heartier, warmer meals, which can spike glucose levels and contribute to our sinking mood and low energy level.

So what can we do to beat those winter blahs?  Here are six ways to help you move from blah to hoorah!

1.  Get moving.  The last thing you may feel like doing when you are tired is exercising.  Nevertheless, research shows that physical activity boosts energy levels.  People who are active have a greater sense of self-confidence.  Exercise also improves the working efficiency of your heart, lungs and muscles.

2.  Eat a variety of foods and eat more often.  Though the colder weather makes us crave sweets and starches, be mindful to keep protein in your diet as a balance.  Protein does not raise your blood sugar, leaving you feeling more satisfied, less irritable and tired than simple carbohydrates and sugars.  Some people may benefit by eating smaller meals more frequently during the day. Favor whole grains and other complex carbohydrates.  These take longer than refined carbohydrates to digest, preventing fluctuations of blood sugar.  If you start eating more often, watch your portion sizes to avoid weight gain.

3.  Drink plenty of water.  Dehydration zaps energy and impairs physical performance.  Dehydration can cause fatigue even for people who are just doing chores.  Dehydration has also been shown to decrease alertness and concentration.  How to kow if you are drinking enough water?  Urine should be pale yellow or straw colored.  If it is darker than that, you need to drink water.

4.  Get to bed early.  Good sleep habits may also have important health benefits.  Set a reasonable bedtime and wake time.  Routine is key.  Creating a quiet, comfortable space and incorporating stretching and deep breathing can help you to fall asleep or fall back to sleep.  Don't rule out naptime.  Napping restores wakefulness and promotes performance and learning.  A 10 minute nap is usually enough to boost energy.  Don't nap longer than 30 minutes, though, or you may have trouble sleeping that night.  A nap followed by a cup of coffee may provide an even bigger energy boost, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

5.   Socialize.  As the gray days of winter drag on, the last thing you might want to do is leave your house.  But try.  Scheduling regular activities with friends, a visit to a local coffee shop or activity center, even a phone call to catch up with a relative can boost your mood and enhance your bodies' natural ability to combat seasonal depression.  These social activities can raise dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, the "feel-good" hormones that improve mood.

6.  Rule out health problems.  Fatigue is a common symptom of many illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, anemia, thyroid disease and sleep apnea.  Many medications can contribute to fatigue.  These include some blood pressure medicines, antihistamines, diuretics and other drugs.  If you begin to experience fatigue after starting a new medication, tell your doctor.  Finally, talk to your doctor if your blahs turn to blues.  If you are feeling deeply depressed and your daily functioning is impaired, your winter blues might actually be seasonal affective disorder.  An evaluation from a mental health professional can help to rule out issues that are more serious.