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Pokémon Go! Safely

14 Aug


During the past several weeks, a new technology craze has invaded our towns and cities. People are wandering around aimlessly looking at their phones, it’s Pokémon Go. One of our avid collaborators, Ms. Keishon Thomas, the Macon-Bibb County Extension agent has come to our rescue to help us understand this new trend, and at the same time alert our readers about the importance of getting involve with the game, but in a safe way. Let’s review what Thomas says and get active!

The game’s developers, Niantic Laboratories, stated the intent was “to get players out and explore the world around them, explore their neighborhoods in a different way and get exercise”.  In this case, your phone shows the animated Pokémon and other characters in real time in your real environment.

The object of the game is to catch “Pokémons”, small animated characters that come in a variety of shapes and colors.  Players ‘hunt’ Pokémon by walking in their real environment armed with “Pokéballs”. Players are directed to landmarks called “Pokéstops”, where they re-up on Pokéballs and other tools to catch Pokémon characters. The Pokéstops are everywhere; parks, churches, government buildings and even at your neighbor’s yard. Because catching those little characters is distracting, players sometime put themselves into dangerous situations as a result of being unaware of their surroundings.

Be alert at all times. There have been reports of people walking into trees, traffic and even falling while playing.pokemon

Never go illegal to capture Pokémon. No trespassing or jaywalking. “Pokemons” can appear anywhere. Be safe and use common sense.

The animated characters appear on your phone in a real environment, they can appear in your car and they move to avoid capture. Driving requires your full attention and hunting Pokémon while driving is a no-no.   Arrive alive!!!

Download the right app from a trusted source such as the Apple Store or Google Play. There have been reports of apps that have malware that could harm your device.

Children should never play alone. They get distracted easily.  It’s rewarding to play along with your child and capture characters while exercising.

Monitor your data usage. The game utilizes GPS and therefore eats data for lunch and dinner.  It won’t be so fun when you receive your phone bill.

Players should also be mindful of in-app purchases. While the game app is free, there are in-app purchases within the game and they have a cost.  My children have been told not to purchase anything online unless they have permission for the purchase. The same goes for the Pokémon Go game.

Monitor the weather and stay hydrated. It’s hot outside and pop-up storms can hamper hunting.  Avoid complications from heat; carry water with you, take breaks in shaded areas, and wear sunscreen.

Lastly, Pokémon Go is a great way to connect generations, get active and have fun while doing so.     Good luck and catch‘em all!!!

Extension reaches out to the Burmese population

12 Dec


Jessica Hill demonstrate different spices participants can use instead of salt, to prepare healthier meals.

DeKalb County is the third most populated county in the state of Georgia. County officials usually highlight the fact that DeKalb has been recognized as one of Georgia’s most culturally diverse communities. More than 64 languages representing Asian, Hispanic, European, and African cultures are spoken. The county has also become a shelter for Asian, African, Iraqi and Latino people who seek asylum due to difficult circumstances in their home countries.
DeKalb County recently delivered a cancer prevention class to a group of Burmese women and children in collaboration with the county’s Women’s Refugee Center. The class, presented with the assistance of an interpreter, provided a great opportunity to educate these new comers and expose them to Extension and the University of Georgia. Funded in part by the American Cancer Society, this class provides crucial information to participants about the importance of early detection, screening activities, and nutrition practices in the prevention of cancer. The group enjoyed tasting new recipes that were low in fat and rich in fiber and nutrients. This class is offered to the community at no cost. For more information, please contact your local Extension office. In DeKalb County, call 404-298-4080 and in Gwinnett County, call 678-377-4014.

Las mejores grasas para hornear en las navidades

6 Dec

Una de las preguntas más frecuentes que recibimos en la oficina del Servicio de Extensión de la Universidad de Georgia, es “¿por qué usar grasa vegetal en lugar de mantequilla, o margarina en lugar de grasa al hornear?”. Para responder esta pregunta yo uso la siguiente información que le ayuda a las personas a decidir qué grasa usar o cómo sustituir una por otra.

• La mantequilla y la margarina en barra son las mejores para hornear galletas y pasteles; hacen el producto más suave, y le otorgan a la corteza del “pie” ese hermoso color café dorado. La mantequilla contiene colesterol, algo de calcio, potasio, y mucha vitamina A. El punto de fusión de la mantequilla ocurre casi a la misma temperatura del cuerpo, por lo que tiene ese “delicioso sabor en la boca”. cookies

• La grasa vegetal se fabrica de aceites vegetales. Para convertirla en grasa sólida, los aceites se “hidrogenan”, tratamiento químico que cambia los ácidos grasos poli-insaturados a ácidos grasos saturados. La grasa vegetal se usa para el glaseado en los pasteles.

• La manteca de cerdo es más baja en grasa saturada que la mantequilla. La mejor manteca es la que se conoce como “leaf” en inglés que proviene de la grasa cerca de los riñones del cerdo. Tiene un sabor suave y una textura homogénea. Se usa para hacer panecillos y la corteza de los pasteles, además es lo mejor para fritar las dónuts.

• Las grasas líquidas son aceites que provienen de las plantas: semillas, nueces y vegetales. Escoja un aceite como el de olivo que contiene un alto porcentaje de grasas poli and mono-insaturadas, sin embargo, su sabor no es adecuado para hornear. Las grasas líquidas no le otorgan estructura a las galletas, pasteles o “pies” pero mejoran la textura en panes para sándwich, panecillos, y panes hechos de manera rápida.

lard• La margarina al igual que la mantequilla batida, no tiene el uso exitoso que tiene la grasa solida al hornear.
Siempre quiero tener un equilibrio entre el delicioso sabor de los productos horneados y una elección saludable para mi familia y para mí. Para fabulosas recetas estas navidades visite


The Fair Exhibition was a success!

14 Sep

CAM00086In the center of the picture, I am surrounded by some of the volunteers from the International Association of Administrative Professionals of Gwinnett County with the entries in the background.

The Gwinnett County Fair Exhibition for 2013 was a success. More than 150 adults and 90 youths came to the Gwinnett fairgrounds this past Monday, January 9th to enter their art work, needle work, pictures, Holiday Houses, and other items, into the contest that the Family and Consumer Sciences of the University of Georgia Gwinnett Extension organizes every year.

France Hernandez from the Extension and I, along with two Extension retirees worked together with 14 volunteers of the International Association of Administrative Professionals of Gwinnett County, led by Phyllis Lowe. We received more than 1,200 items made by the participants. The items entered were marked and classified according to the type of work for judging on Tuesday afternoon.

For almost three hours, the 27 invited judges, studied each item to determine the best work submitted in each category. Among the judges were five retiree Family and Consumer Sciences Agents, professional photographers, and experienced teachers. After the judges finished their review, the last task was to prepare the display of all the entries. The winning items had ribbons attached to them.

I am thankful for the hard work done by France with all of the forms and paper work, and for Kitty Shepard with her firsthand knowledge with the exhibit during the entire two days. Lastly I am grateful for the work of the volunteers with whom I share stories and jokes with while displaying the items on Tuesday afternoon.

Thank you to everyone for their efforts and collaborations that made the Gwinnett Fair Exhibition a success!

¡Es tiempo de unirse a Walk Georgia!

6 Sep

Walk GA  picture

En la foto, de izquierda a derecha: Janet Hollingsworth, Appling County, Susan Howington, Henry County, Raymond Joyce, Laurens County, and Edda Cotto-Rivera and Jessica Hill from DeKalb County.

El domingo pasado en la pista de carreras del Atlanta Motor Speedway, participé en la “Caminata Familiar”, un evento en donde se promovió el primer día de inscripción del programa Walk Georgia. Más de 1000 personas disfrutaron de esta actividad cuyo propósito es el de mantenerse activo y saludable, algunos de ellos aprovecharon la oportunidad para inscribirse y participar en el programa Walk Georgia.

Walk Georgia es un programa gratuito de 12 semanas auspiciado por la Extensión Cooperativa de la Universidad de Georgia y respaldado en parte por la fundación Coca Cola. El programa está diseñado para ayudar a la gente a llevar un registro de su actividad física, y a mantenerlos activos y saludables. El tiempo que usted pasa realizando su  actividad física favorita se convierte en millas de manera que  usted viaja de manera “virtual” a través del bello estado de Georgia.  Usted tiene la oportunidad de competir amistosamente con otros residentes de su condado y de ver su progreso en el transcurso de algunas semanas. Inés y yo estamos en una competencia amistosa para descubrir cuál de nuestros condados, Gwinnett o DeKalb tiene más participantes en este programa.

Las fechas de inscripción están abiertas hasta el 9 de octubre del 2013. Para más información y para registrase como individuo o con un equipo de 4 amigos o de familiares, visite la página de internet: ¡Ya sea que camine, baile, corra o nade, veámonos en Walk Georgia!

It’s time to join Walk Georgia!

6 Sep

Walk GA 4

In the picture from left to right: Janet Hollingsworth, Appling County, Susan Howington, Henry County, Raymond Joyce, Laurens County, and Edda Cotto-Rivera and Jessica Hill from DeKalb County.

Last Sunday at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, I participated in the “Family Track Walk”, an event were we promoted the first day of registration for Walk Georgia. More than 1,000 people enjoyed this activity which purpose is to stay active and healthy. Many of them took the opportunity to register and participate in the Walk Georgia program.

Walk Georgia is a free 12-week program sponsored by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension,  and supported in part by the Coca Cola Foundation. It is designed to help people to maintain a record of their physical activity, and motivate them to stay active and healthy. The time you spend doing your favorite activity is converted into miles so you can travel “virtually” across the beautiful state of Georgia. You have the opportunity to engage in a friendly competition with other residents of your county and see your progress throughout the weeks. Ines and I are engaged in our own friendly competition to discover which county, Gwinnett or DeKalb, has more participants!

The registration is open until October 9, 2013. For more information and to register yourself or a team of 4 friends or relatives visit the following link: Either you walk, dance, run or swim, let’s see each other at Walk Georgia!

Dinner is ready, let’s eat!

26 Aug

Family eating together

What type of emotion comes to your mind when you hear that phrase? Happiness, worry, satisfaction, or frustration? Many parents faced a daily battle making sure that their children are eating healthy. I recently attended the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, and had the opportunity to listen to two excellent presentations from nationally recognized nutrition experts. Ellyn Satter and Dr. Michelle May exposed their points of views about us and the relationship we have with food. Ellyn is recognized for her work related to the dynamics of feeding between parents and children. And Dr. May is well known for her book titled “Eat what you love, Love what you eat”.

Ellyn reminds us that we need courage to allow our kids to develop their individualities related to eating. Our job as parents is to expose them to a variety of foods and to refrain from giving them only the ones they like. If we do a good job, then we should allow them to decide how much they are going to eat. It is important that parents set a good example about how to behave at the dinner table; if we want them to eat healthy, then we have to do the same.

Dr. May reminds us in one of her articles that children are born with the ability to know when they are hungry. They express it with their cry and also when they spit food back to us when we are feeding them with a spoon. There is when the battle to convince them to eat more than what they need starts, framed by our own experiences. Dr. May agrees that kids need to use their own cues to decide when and what are they going to eat. Once again, the parent’s job is to provide nutritious and fun foods, teach them to eat in moderation and showing them a great example by practicing an active and healthy lifestyle.

One more publication comes to our rescue. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension newsletter for nutrition and health for August, written by our own specialist Connie Crawley provides us with the following tips:

1-     Remember that kids need to be exposed to a new food between 7- 15 times for them to be able to develop the taste for a food item even if they did not like before.

2-     Do not pressure them to eat.

3-     Encourage them to eat different foods by using descriptive words like soft, sweet and crispy.

4-     Introduce new foods when eating at the table together. Use the family dinner style serving the food in dishes that allows everybody to serve themselves.

5-     Remember that each child is different and the way they eat is an essential part of their personality.

I hope that the next time you hear “food is ready please come eat”, all the family members will come to the table with a smile full of satisfaction even before tasting the first bite.

Healthy and easy snacks for after schools activities

15 Aug

My son Nicholas is having soccer practice three times a week in the evenings, and games on the weekends. To plan healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks on my tight schedule, I use MyPlate, the nutrition guide published by the United States Department of Agriculture, as a guide. Meal planning and health tips can be found online at

If we have to eat fast food, we look up for options that are lower in fat and calories. We decide what will be ordered before going into the restaurant. Unfortunately low sodium foods are rare in fast food or any restaurant, but we eat lower sodium foods at home to make the overall intake of sodium less.

About 17 percent of fast food menu items can be considered “healthy choices,” according to On kid’s menus, approximately 12 of the 3,039 possible meal combinations meet nutritional criteria for preschoolers, and 15 combinations meet the criteria for older children.

To help on-the-go families, UGA Extension provides a few tips for healthy snacks and meals.

Simple snacks: plain, dried or paired fruits with sorbet or cottage cheese, yogurt, whole grain cereal, 100 percent frozen fruit bars, nuts for older children, trail mix — made with whole grain cereal, nuts and dried fruit —, homemade fruit breads and muffins (such as banana bread or carrot muffins), low-fat cheese with wholegrain bread or hummus and whole grain pita.

Planned snacks: A few snacks that can be made at home, then stored in a cooler or otherwise retained away from home include peanut butter sandwiches, salads with light dressing, milk in small boxes, hard-boiled eggs, single servings of cottage cheese, cut-up vegetables with light dip made with plain yogurt and homemade soups in thermos bottles.

Before and after practice snacks: Cut-up fruit and/or vegetables, yogurt, milk, half a sandwich made with real turkey (not lunch meat) or low-fat cheese or whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese make good snacks for active kids.

Cambios en el comedor escolar

2 Aug

school lunchesPor mucho tiempo nos hemos preocupado de la selección de alimentos disponibles en nuestras escuelas para nuestros niños. Pizza, pollo y papas fritas, postres, y bebidas ricas en azúcar han sido la orden del día. Sin embargo el Departamento de Agricultura Federal, quien es el responsable de evaluar los requisitos de los almuerzos escolares, ha iniciado una extensa revisión de las reglas a seguir que promete ser muy positiva y beneficiosas para la salud de nuestros niños y jóvenes. Según Connie Crawley, especialista de salud y nutrición de nuestra Universidad de Georgia, casi el 75% del estudiantado de Georgia utiliza los servicios de la cafetería escolar. Ello serán los que experimenten los cambios en el menú: menos grasa, menos azúcar y menos sal. Muchos de los cambios no se completarán por varios años, pero se han dado pasos importantes hacia el ofrecer un almuerzo más nutritivo y saludable.
Se han establecido restricciones en el contenido de sal de las comidas, se han sustituido alimentos altos en grasa por mejores opciones, los postres serán más saludables y nutritivos y la leche es ahora baja en grasa o sin grasa. Todavía las escuelas tendrán disponibles opciones no tan saludables y es necesario continuar colaborando para una nutrición más adecuada. Es importante que los padres y los cuidadores se unan al esfuerzo de las autoridades para que los niños y jóvenes se acostumbren a estos cambios. Los alimentos que les preparemos en casa deben parecerse a las opciones nuevas del comedor escolar. Los mensajes deben ser congruentes. Salud en la casa, salud en la escuela. Entusiásmenosles a escoger lo mejor: leche baja en grasa o sin grasa, fruta y yogur en vez de pastel y fruta en vez de jugo. ¡Las nuevas alternativas van a ser importantes en la lucha en contra del problema de la obesidad! Brindemos con un rico y refrescante vaso de agua por los cambios propuestos. ¡Salud!

Changes at the school cafeteria

2 Aug

school lunches

For a long time, we have worried about the food selection available to our children at school. Pizza, fried chicken, French fries, dessert, and high sugary drinks have been the order of the day. Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for evaluating school lunch requirements, has initiated an extensive revision of the rules schools must follow in order to ensure that our kids and young people have access to healthy meals. According to Connie Crawley, a nutrition and health specialist at the University of Georgia, almost 75% of students in Georgia eat in their school cafeterias. They are the ones who will experience the changes to the cafeteria menu: less fat, less sugar, and less salt. Many of the proposed changes will not be in effect for many years, but the system has taken important steps towards offering a healthier and nutritious lunch.
The changes proposed by the U.S.D.A. address a number of concerns. For example, salt content will be restricted, foods that are high in fat will be substituted by healthier options, some dessert options will have fewer calories, and milk must now be either low in fat or non-fat. Unfortunately, school cafeterias will still include options that are not as healthy, so it is necessary to continue collaborating as a community to improve nutrition in this setting. It is important that parents and childcare providers join forces with officials in order to help students get used to the changes. The food that we prepare for our children at home should match the new options they will get in the school cafeteria, so that they receive consistent messages about healthy food choices. Health at home, health at school. Let’s motivate them to choose the best: low fat or nonfat milk, fruit and yogurt instead of cake, and fruit instead of juice. The new alternatives will be important tools in our fight against the obesity problem! Let’s toast, with a delicious and refreshing glass of water, to the proposed changes. Cheers!