Nutrition and health education

Food preservation

The University of Missouri Extension offers classes on water bath and pressure canning, freezing and drying methods of food preservation. Topics of instruction include keeping food safe, correcting pressure times, and using equipment properly. You can also bring in the dial gauge from your pressure canner to be tested for accuracy. It is recommended that this be done yearly.

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy

The "Stay Strong, Stay Healthy" program is available here in Nodaway County. This program can help you get started on the road to better health. The "Stay Strong, Stay Healthy" program is built on simple, strength building exercises that will improve balance, health, and state of mind. No, it's not strenuous weight-lifting; you'll start at a level that's right for you. No one is too inactive to participate. Building strength promotes quality of life and independence. All exercises are done either standing or sitting; there are no floor exercises involved. All equipment for the class will be provided. For more information, please contact the Nodaway County Extension Center at 660-582-8101.

Eat Well Be Well with Diabetes

“Eat Well, Be Well with Diabetes,” is a four-class series designed to teach people how to self-manage their diabetes with a strong focus on nutrition. Class topics include meal planning using the Plate Method, understanding carbohydrate counting, blood sugar management and monitoring. Each class member will have the opportunity to taste test easy and healthy recipes during each class session and will receive copies of all recipes to take for home use. “Eat Well, Be Well with Diabetes” is designed to enhance, not replace, diabetes education provided by a certified diabetes educator or other qualified health professional. For more information, please contact the Nodaway County Extension Center at 660-582-8101.

The Seasonal and Simple App

A premium guide to finding, selecting, preparing and storing fresh fruits and vegetables in Missouri.
  • View a vast selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, produce information, recipes and an easy-to-read colorful chart that shows when vegetables are in season.
  • A comprehensive list of Missouri Farmers Markets will lead you to locally grown produce anywhere in the state.
Available for iPhone, iPad or Android.  To download, simply go to the App Store or Android Market and search "seasonal and simple".

This app was created by students, faculty an dstaff at the University of Missouri. 


Making Your Own Baby Food

By Janet Hackert, Regional Nutrition and Health Education Specialist

Many people are taking a closer look at what they eat these days. Parents are also concerned about what their babies eat. One way to know what is in a baby’s food is to make it at home. Here are some basic tips and a resource for more detailed information.

Food safety is especially important when preparing food for an infant. A baby’s digestive system does not have the strength to battle the germs and dirt otherwise found on produce. Wash fruit or vegetables carefully under cold running water. Do not use soap, produce washes or any other cleaning products when cleaning baby’s produce as residues may prove challenging to delicate systems. For firm-fleshed produce use a vegetable brush to help clean thoroughly.

Puree foods like fruits and vegetables to make them soft and smooth for a young child who does not have many teeth and has not developed chewing skills yet.

Start by introducing single ingredient foods to help identify any allergies. Common first foods include ripe mashed bananas, smooth applesauce, cooked pureed peaches, pears, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, peas, or asparagus.

To puree clean fresh produce, remove peel, seeds and pits. For large items, cut into smaller pieces and cook. Steaming or boiling in a small amount of water, or baking (for some harder foods), are ideal. Use as little cooking liquid as possible to avoid losing nutrients to the water. To capture those nutrients, reserve the cooking liquid and use it to thin out the puree if it is too thick. If the puree turns out too thin, a little infant cereal can be used to thicken it.

Cool quickly and store in the refrigerator for no more than one to two days. If more is made than can be eaten in that time, freeze the rest in small, ready-to-use portions. Freeze in ice cube trays or in one tablespoon dollops on a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Once frozen, remove and store in a zip-type freezer bag. Remove the number of cubes that will be eaten within a couple of days. Thaw in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or as part of the reheating process.

Homemade baby food is one option for making meals nutritious and safe. For more details on homemade baby food, go to and type in “Making Your Own Baby Food.” For more information on this or any other topic, you can also contact me at 660-425-6434 or or your local University of Missouri Extension office.

National Nutrition Month® - Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right

By Janet Hackert, Regional Nutrition and Health Education Specialist
University of Missouri Extension

March is National Nutrition Month® and this year’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” Research has found that the taste of food is the top motivator for eating well. This is no news flash, but how does one use that information to make healthier choices?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsors this event each year. Once again they have posted some great ideas, this time for making the healthier choices taste fabulous with some simple changes. Registered dietician and Academy spokesperson Joy Dubost says, “Try some of these simple techniques to enhance flavor while experimenting with flavor combinations.

  • Intensify the flavors of meat, poultry and fish with high-heat cooking techniques such as pan-searing, grilling or broiling.
  • Pep it up with peppers. Use red, green and yellow peppers of all varieties—sweet, hot and dried. Or add a dash of hot pepper sauce.
  • Try grilling or roasting veggies in a very hot (450°F) oven or grill for a sweet, smoky flavor. Brush or spray them lightly with oil so they don’t dry out. Sprinkle with herbs.
  • Caramelize sliced onions to bring out their natural sugar flavor by cooking them slowly over low heat in a small amount of oil. Use them to make a rich, dark sauce for meat or poultry.
  • Simmer juices to make reduction sauces. Concentrate the flavors of meat, poultry and fish stocks. Reduce the juices by heating them—don’t boil. Then use them as a flavorful glaze or gravy.
  • For fuller flavors, incorporate more whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa, or experiment with amaranth and wild rice.
  • Add small amounts of ingredients with bold flavors like pomegranate seeds, chipotle pepper or cilantro.
  • Add a tangy taste with citrus juice or grated citrus peel: lemon, lime or orange. Acidic ingredients help lift and balance flavor.
  • Enhance sauces, soups and salads with a splash of flavored balsamic or rice vinegar.
  • Give a flavor burst with good-quality condiments such as horseradish, flavored mustard, chutney, wasabi, bean purees, tapenade and salsas of all kinds.

"These simple cooking steps can really transform your favorite meals and foods," Dubost says. "But,” she continues, “keep in mind the average adult has 10,000 taste buds, and people sense the same foods differently. So don’t be afraid to try new foods, flavors and taste combinations. There’s truly a world of flavors to explore."

For more ideas to help you "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right," visit the Academy’s website to view their library of recipes. Go to and search for recipes. You can also contact me at 660-425-6434 or or your local University of Missouri Extension office.

For more information on making time to be physically active, or any other topic, contact me at 660-425-6434 or or your local University of Missouri Extension office.

Which is Healthier? How to Make Wise Food Choices

 By Janet Hackert, Regional Nutrition and Health Education Specialist
University of Missouri Extension  

When it comes to eating better, a common question is “which is healthier: this food or that one?” Sometimes it is obvious. For example, which is healthier – a caramel or some steamed broccoli? But other times the better choice for good health is not so clear-cut. So how does one make wise food choices?

Making the best choice involves doing some investigating. It also means deciding what is most important to the individual’s health. So, for example, which is healthier: dairy milk or soy milk? One can consider one’s ability to digest the foods, the nutrient content of each (both the major nutrients and any micronutrients the food may have), and the flavor and whether the individual would actually consume one food or the other.

So in the example of dairy milk versus soy milk, for people who are lactose intolerant, the lactose (or milk sugar) found in dairy milk can cause digestive upset. Soy milk may be a positive alternative if they want to consume something similar to milk that will not upset their stomachs.

Then consider the main nutrients. According to Helen M. Rasmussen, senior research dietician at Tufts University’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, “If you’re just looking at food to keep your body going, it’s hard to beat skim dairy milk for nutrient quality and density.” On the other hand, while skim dairy milk and soy milk have about the same amount of protein, about 8.3 and 7.2 grams, respectively in a cup of each, the protein in soy is complex and composed of all the essential amino acids. Soy milk and skim dairy milk both are very low in saturated fat with 0.5 and 0.1 grams respectively. Both also have about the same amount of calcium, about 300 mg/cup. Both typically have about the same amount of Vitamin D (around 3 mcg/cup) and Vitamin A (at 149 mcg/cup). When it comes to phosphorus and potassium, milks wins out; but soy takes the lead in Vitamin B12 content.

So then it comes down to flavor. Both of these foods are good choices in a healthy eating plan. But if one or the other is more likely to be consumed, it is more likely to actually contribute to the nutrient intake of the individual.

So when making food choices, consider all aspects, do some investigating, read the nutrition facts labels, and see which food will work best in an overall healthy eating plan.

For more information on making wise food choices, or any other topic, contact me, Janet Hackert, Regional Nutrition Specialist, at 660-425-6434 or or your local University of Missouri Extension office.


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