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Turn over a new leaf in 2010

More than half of all Americans — 55 percent — want a healthier diet, according to a recent survey. Most of us know we should eat more fruits and vegetables; but most of us aren’t. Yet if we did we would lose extra pounds quicker which is a post-holiday goal for many.

If munching on fruits and veggies isn’t your norm store them in plain sight as a reminder. Store those that will keep at room temperature in a bowl on the kitchen counter. If your refrigerator crisper drawers are ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ put fruits and vegetables in plastic bags on eye level shelves. And if you’re just bored with the typical options, try something new to entice your taste buds into leading you to a better diet. The produce department has something for everyone.

Sample the cruciferous cousins:

Broccolini, one of my favorites, is much sweeter than broccoli. Saute its tender stalks in olive oil and garlic for a quick side dish. Although tempting, avoid smothering cooked broccoli and cauliflower in high fat cheese sauce. Try sprinkling them with freshly grated sharp cheese such as parmesan or gruyere.

Brussels sprouts, which look like tiny cabbages, are delicious tossed in olive oil and oven-roasted. Sprinkle them with a little crisp bacon or spritz them with balsamic vinegar before serving.

Chinese kale is quick to fix, too. Chop up the stems, leaves and florets and add them to a clear broth soup or a stir fry.

If you’re adventuresome and want to try something new, consider finding these naturally sweet treats at your produce section – mangosteen and acai and goji berries.

Mangosteen, not to be confused with mango, has appeared on at least one list of new super foods. This red fruit has a very exotic appearance. Beneath the thick rind is an edible white segmented fruit which is described as both sweet and tangy. Although it is being promoted as having miraculous benefits, science has not supported the health claims. However, if your budget can handle it, enjoy it as just another healthful fruit for variety.

Other fruits proposed as super foods are the acai and goji berry. If you are tossing them into your breakfast shake, enjoy the flavor, just as you would strawberries or blueberries, but know that a miracle food they are not. Berries offer healthful antioxidants — which help fight free radical damage — and they are naturally high in fiber and vitamin C, but researchers don’t put them into the miracle food category.

If you have children in your family, it’s even more important to include a variety of fruits and veggies. I had a friend who once told me that her children were allergic to green food; she was referring to vegetables. If your kids think “vegetable” is a bad word, as one television commercial implies, try a few new strategies to make their plate healthier:

• Make a game out of eating vegetables and fruits by trying a new fruit or veggie once a week.

• Include children in grocery shopping and food preparation. What happens in the kitchen when children are involved in food selection and preparation is magical.

• Keep in mind that young children need to be exposed to a new food eight to 12 times before they’re likely to accept it.

• Just as important is being a good role model for children when you try new foods, too.

Turn over a new leaf in the new year. Enjoy these guilt free treats along with their health benefits which will ensure you’ll feel like you are getting off to a healthy start in 2010.

Weed symposiums

Mark down Tuesday, Feb. 23, and Wednesday, Feb. 24, as the dates of the second annual Four Corners Organic Weed Management Symposium and the 18th annual Four-Corners Weed Symposium, to be held at McGee Park in Bloomfield, N.M. Registration and refreshments will begin at 8 a.m. with the symposium beginning at 9 and ending at 3:45 p.m. on both days.

Registration fees paid on Feb. 17 are $20 for both workshops. Registration fees paid after Feb. 17 will be $25. The cost of each program includes lunch and refreshments. Those who should attend include landowners, persons interested in sustainable weed control, market gardeners, oil and gas personnel, environmental consultants, weed spraying consultants and regulators with weed control responsibilities. Colorado and New Mexico Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education Credits Available. For more information about this or other Extension programs in the San Juan Basin area contact Archuleta County Extension at 264-5931. You can download a copy of the brochures at: www.archuleta.colostate.edu.

Beef symposium

The San Juan Basin Extension Beef Cattle Symposium has become a tradition in southwest Colorado and northwest New Mexico. Educational programs are important to help us sustain this way of life. The 2010 Beef Cattle Symposium will primarily focus on disease, nutrition, and herd health. There will be something of interest in this area for everyone who is involved or planning to be involved in beef production.

This program will be held on Tuesday, March 2, at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Registration cost on or before Feb. 25 is $20; after this date the cost is $25. Lunch, refreshments and materials will be provided for all who register early. Thanks to our faithful sponsor, Basin Coop, Inc. in Durango for their help in making this program a success.

To register, contact the CSU Extension Office in Archuleta County at 264-5931 or visit www.archuleta.colostate.edu to download a brochure.

Calendar

Feb. 11 — 1:45 a.m., Mountain View Homemakers Club.

Feb. 11 — 6:30 p.m., Farm Bureau meeting.

Feb. 11 — 6:30 p.m., Shady Pine Club.

Feb. 12 — 1:30 p.m., 4-H Coin Collecting project.

Feb. 12 — 2:15 p.m., Wolf Creek Wonders Club.

Feb. 15 — Office closed in observance of Presidents Day.

Feb. 15 — 6 p.m., Back Country Horsemen meeting.

Feb. 17 — 10 a.m., Mountain High Garden Club meeting.

Feb. 17 — 3:30 p.m., 4-H Sportsfishing project.

Feb. 17 — 6 p.m., Fair Board meeting.