Northeast Region Newsletter, March 2022

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Activity Corner

with Joy Sims

Put some Spring in your Stroll! No matter what the weather outside says - spring is here in Louisiana! The flowers are sprouting and the trees are budding so it's time to get outside and get some fresh air! Spring is the perfect season to pick up walking as a hobby because it has many great mental and physical health benefits and it can be accomplished virtually anywhere. By walking you increase your heart rate and feel more invigorated. You can also feel more relaxed when walking and taking in the scenery. If you have limited mobility, you can spring into fitness by dancing to your favorite tunes, getting into an aquatic aerobics class, or making your walk as short and comfortable as needed. You can use groceries as weights and use resistance bands to get your heart pumping! Overall, walking is a great way to work a lot of fitness into a small 15-30 minutes of your day. Here are some tips to get motivated to put some spring in your step:

  1. Grab your headphones and put on your favorite tunes. Something upbeat can motivate you to get moving at a nice pace if your goal is increasing your heart rate. Creating a playlist can also help you set a time limit for your walk if you’re taking a lunchtime stroll, for example. Be sure to leave one ear clear so you can hear your surroundings.
  2. Sign up for a local walking event or group. Take a look on social media and see if there are any local groups hosting a walk for a health cause or just for fun and friendship. If you can’t find one, don’t be afraid to start your own!
  3. Find a scenic and safe trail to walk on. Having a location with nature or shops you enjoy can help the time go by faster and make it more fun for you. Walking on a designated trail or at a park can certainly be beautiful and provide a sense of security for pedestrians.

Family Mealtime Tips

by Cathy Agan

Dining together as a family does more than just fill our stomachs. Family mealtime is a great time for families to connect with each other, build family traditions, and offer educational opportunities. Children who eat regularly with their families tend to eat more healthful foods. Children can learn life skills while helping prepare meals or set the table for family meals. Picky eaters can make mealtime challenging but involving children in meal planning and food preparation may make them more likely to try new foods. Family mealtime is great time for adults to model healthy eating and be an example by trying new foods. If your child is a picky eater, just be patient since it may take several tries before a child develops a liking for a new food. Remember to make meals and memories together for a tradition they can use for life.

  1. Remember you don’t have to serve an elaborate meal for it to count as family mealtime. Try breakfast for dinner for an easy meal.
  2. Share the responsibilities of meal planning and food preparation. Find ways for your kids to get involved by setting the table or helping prepare foods.
  3. Turn off electronics during mealtime and use it as a time to catch up and share about each other’s day.
  4. Be creative about where you eat together. It might be a picnic at the ballpark for example.
  5. Plan for family mealtime. It won’t happen unless you schedule it around your activities and work schedules.

Healthy Recipe Box

by Quincy Vidrine

Turnip & Pork Fricassee


  • 1½ lbs pork tenderloin, cut in 1” cubes
  • 1 tbsp Cajun Seasoning
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup diced green bellpepper
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 lb turnips, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions: Toss pork with Cajun seasoning in a bowl and place in the refrigerator 1 hour. Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown evenly. When pork is browned, remove from skillet with slotted spoon and set aside. Add the flour to the oil and butter in the skillet.

Stir constantly for 4 to 5 minutes, make a medium brown roux. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook for 3 minutes. Season with salt and cayenne. Stir in the garlic. Return the pork to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes. Add the turnips and broth, stir to mix well. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce to low and cook stirring occasionally , for 55 minutes or until the pork is tender. Stir in parsley and serve immediately.


EFNEP, SNAP and Healthy Communities logos.

  • Catahoula/Concordia Parishes, Ana Gouge, (318) 414-6055
  • East Carroll/Morehouse Parishes, Jocinda Jackson, (318) 559-1459
  • Franklin/Caldwell Parishes/FCS Regional Coordinator, Quincy Vidrine, (318) 435-2903
  • CDC Food Systems Coordinator, Cecilia Stevens, (318) 435-2908
  • Madison/Tensas Parishes, Joy Sims, (318) 574-2465
  • Ouachita Parish, Cathy Agan, (318) 323-2251
  • Ouachita/Morehouse Parishes, Kimberly Butcher, (318) 323-2251
  • Ouachita/Union Parishes, Markaye Russell, (318) 323-2251
  • Richland/West Carroll Parishes, Brittney Newsome, (318) 281-5741

Northeast Region FCS Logo.For the latest research-based information on just about anything, visit our website:
Dr. Luke Laborde, LSU Vice President for Agriculture
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, LSU College of Agriculture.
The LSU AgCenter and LSU provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.
If you need an ADA accommodation for your participation, please contact Quincy Vidrine at least two weeks prior to the event.
The LSU AgCenter provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

Kid Stuff

by Cecilia Stevens

One way to motivate children to play outdoors is to provide a playhouse space. Easy-to-grow plants like sunflowers, peas, or beans can provide a playhouse structure within a few weeks. A bonus is that the playhouse can also be a source of delicious, fresh produce for the family diet. Begin the plant playhouse by clearing a 6” wide area as the “walls” of the structure. Make the interior area large enough for play furniture or a blanket. The shade from the plants will create a unique space for outdoor play. Sunflower seeds may be sown as soon as the last frost date has passed. Sunflower stalks are generally hardy and do not require bracing. Extra tall varieties such a Mammoth may be loosely tied at the top to provide more shade. A bonus to the sunflower house is that the seeds may be harvested for a healthy snack. A bean or pea playhouse is best created using poles for the structure. The poles could be designed to meet in the middle as a tepee or placed in a more traditional square or rectangular shape. Early peas such as snow peas can be planted in Louisiana in early spring while green beans generally do better after the last frost date. Check the directions on the seed packet for the best time to plant. A pea or bean playhouse allows children to observe the process of vegetable production from flowering to harvest. Involve the children in picking and cooking the vegetables for even more family health engagement.

March is National Nutrition Month

by Markaye Russell

As we celebrate National Nutrition Month, we want to encourage everyone to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits they can follow all year long. This year’s theme is “Celebrate a World of Flavors”. This theme gives every culture a place at the table. A national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics quoted “Celebrating the cultural heritage, traditions, and recipes from all people is a tasty way to nourish ourselves, learn about one another and find appreciation in our diversity.” A national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics based in Dallas quoted “Mealtime is a wonderful time to connect with your friends and family and eat a healthful mix of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins. Healthy eating does not have to be an all-or-nothing approach. One meal does not make or break a person’s health. It’s what you do most of the time that matters. Find creative, healthful and nutritious ways to add flavor to your meals while eating less sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.” Few simple tips to follow:

  1. Eat snacks with no added sugars
  2. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea without added sugars
  3. Avoid solid fats when cooking, instead use olive oil or vegetable oils
  4. Cook lean cuts of meat without skin
  5. Avoid creamy dressings, instead use oil-based dressing
  6. Use more herbs and spices instead of salt

As we observe national nutrition month, let's not forget to move our bodies. Nutrition doesn't only focus on what we eat, but also include exercise as part of your daily lives!

Parish Rice New Healthy Option

by Brittney Newsome & Quincy Vidrine

As many of you may know, there are over 40,000 varieties of rice throughout the world. However, in Louisiana we mainly consume different types of rice such as long grain white rice, brown, jasmine, basmati, and parboiled as a part of a healthful diet. There are many different nutritional benefits associated with the different varieties of rice such as added B vitamins(thiamin,niacin,and folate) and minerals (iron and zinc).Some varieties of rice may contain up to 2g of protein, 3.5g of fiber per ½ cup serving as well as being free of cholesterol, sodium, and fat.

One of the newest rice varieties that was recently developed by the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station in Crowley is Frontière. Frontière is a high protein, low-glycemic rice that is being sold across the state under the brand name of Parish Rice. So you may be thinking, what makes Parish Rice so unique? Not only does this variety have a protein content of 5 grams, which is 53% more than the average consumer brand, it also has a glycemic index of 41. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food causes our blood sugar levels to rise. There are three groups of glycemic ratings for food: low (55 or less); medium (56-69) and high (70-100). This low glycemic variety is a healthy alternative for people with diabetes or people who are pre-diabetic who must pay close attention to their carbohydrate consumption and glucose levels. Even though most varieties of rice have a glycemic index of 73 or higher, we must remember that practicing portion control no matter the glycemic index is just as important.

Parish Rice can be used in many our favorite Louisiana dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and etouffee or even as a side dish. Fueling up with this rice variety will provide the protein needed to keep you feeling full longer, give you the energy needed to move more throughout the day, and the enjoyment of knowing you are choosing healthier options to create long-lasting lifestyle changes. Try some Parish Rice with this month’s recipe: Turnip & Pork Fricassee. Remember to keep and eye on portion sizes to stay in check, especially if you are monitoring your carbohydrate intake. The LSU AgCenter strongly encourages consumers to support all of our Louisiana Rice producers!

Smart Tips to Keep Your Restaurant Leftovers Safe

by Kimberly Butcher

Planning on going out to eat soon? Bringing home leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day is very common, but are you handling your leftovers properly? Don’t invite bacteria to your next meal. Here are some food safety tips so you can enjoy your restaurant leftovers without getting foodborne illness.

  1. If you plan to go to a movie or be out and about after eating at a restaurant, then you should skip taking the leftovers.
  2. Perishable foods should be brought directly home because the faster food gets into the refrigerator, the lower likelihood of bacterial growth.
  3. Meat and poultry leftovers are safely refrigerated at 40 F up to 4 days. Eggs and lunch meats are safely stored at 40 F up to 5 days.
  4. For best quality, cooked meat and poultry leftovers can be stored in the freezer at 0 F or below for 2 to 6 months.
  5. If you reheat all of your leftovers but don’t finish the entire portion, refrigerate what’s left immediately so it can be safely reheated again.
  6. When reheating in a microwave, place foods on a microwave-safe plate. Food should be spread evenly and stirred halfway through heating.
  7. Warning—reheating in slow cookers isn’t recommended because foods may be sitting too long in the “Danger Zone” (40 F - 140 F).
  8. When reheating meat and poultry in the oven, the temperature should be no lower than 325 F. This will help prevent foodborne illness.
  9. When reheating leftovers, use a food thermometer to check the food’s internal temperature. The food is safe to eat once it reaches 165 F.
  10. Soups, sauces, gravies, etc., should be reheated to a boil.

You should never use taste to determine if a food is safe or not. You can't see or taste harmful bacteria. The golden rule is, when in doubt, throw it out!

Upcoming Events

  • Earth Day Event, 4:00PM Ouachita Parish: Fun event on April 21st from 4:00 to 6:30 PM at Louisiana Purchase Zoo. Contact Cathy Agan for more information.
  • Ouachita Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) Coalition Meeting, 4PM Ouachita Parish: HYPE Coalition meeting will take place on April 26th, 2022 at Ouachita Parish LSU AgCenter Extension Office. Contact Cathy Agan for more information.
  • ServSafe Training & Exam, 10AM Franklin Parish: ServSafe Certification in Winnsboro at the Scott Center in Winnsboro on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. Contact Quincy Vidrine for more information.
  • “Why Air Fry” Workshop, 10AM Franklin Parish: Workshop at Franklin Parish Head Start on Monday, April 11th. Contact Quincy Vidrine for more information.
  • LA Healthy Communities Forum, 11AM Franklin Parish: Healthy Communities Forum at Crowville First Baptist Church on Thursday, April 14th. Contact Quincy Vidrine for more information.
  • Tensas Parish Safety Day Tensas Parish: This event will include Food Safety Education at the St. Joseph Research Station on Wednesday, April 20th, 2022. Contact Quincy Vidrine for more information.
  • Small Changes, Healthy Habits Nutrition Series (in-person and virtual) Richland and West Carroll Parishes: Contact Brittney Newsome for more information.
  • National Nutrition Month Workshop “Celebrate a World of Flavors”, 12:00PM West Carroll Parish: Workshop on March 30th at the West Carroll Parish Extension Office. Contact Brittney Newsome for more information.
  • Spring into Vegetable Gardening, 5:30PM Concordia Parish: Presenters Kylie Miller and Marcie Matthews at Clayton Library on April 21st, 2022. Contact Ana Gouge for more information.
  • “Stepping to Healthy Spring”, 12PM Ouachita Parish: Super Saturday at the Children’s Coalition in Monroe March 19, 2022. Contact Markaye Russell for more information.
  • Stenciling Union Parish Library Union Parish: Physical activity stencils will be painted at Union Parish Library on Saturday, March 19, 2022. Contact Markaye Russell for more information.
  • Senator Jackson's MyLAgarden Garden Box: Sen. Jackson’s MyLAgarden Garden Boxes will be distributed on March 19th. Contact Cecilia Stevens for more information.
  • Landscaping Guidance for Every Yard, 5:30PM Concordia Parish: Presenter Sarah Shields will talk about landscaping at Vidalia Library on May 19th, 2022. Contact Ana Gouge for more information.
  • Greaux With Us: LSU AgCenter Garden Series, Bees and Pollinators, 10AM Catahoula Parish: Dennis Burns will present on bees and pollinators at the Catahoula Parish Library in Harrisonburg on March 16th, 2022. Contact Ana Gouge for more information.
  • Greaux With Us: LSU AgCenter Garden Series, Weed Science and ID, 10AM Catahoula Parish: On March 23rd Dr. Ron Strahan will talk about weed science and identification at Catahoula Parish Library. Contact Ana Gouge for more information.
  • Greaux With Us: LSU AgCenter Garden Series, Badges Nursery Open House Catahoula Parish: Nursery Open House on March 26th in Jonesboro. Contact Ana Gouge for more information.
  • Greaux With Us: LSU AgCenter Garden Series, Soil Interpretation, 10AM Catahoula Parish: Dr. Rasel Parvej will talk about soil interpretation at Catahoula Parish Library on March 30th, 2022. Contact Ana Gouge for more information.
  • Greaux With Us: LSU AgCenter Garden Series, Propagation, 10AM Catahoula Parish: Marcie Matthews will discuss propagation at Catahoula Parish Library on April 6th, 2022. Contact Ana Gouge for more information.
  • Ouachita Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) Coalition Meeting, 4PM Ouachita Parish: HYPE Coalition meeting will take place on March 14th, 2022 at Ouachita Parish LSU AgCenter Extension Office. Contact Cathy Agan for more information.
  • Richwood Health Fair, 1PM Ouachita Parish: Health fair on March 24th, 2022 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM at the Richwood Town Hall. Contact Cathy Agan for more information
  • Resilience Network Meeting, 10:30AM Ouachita Parish: Meeting on April 12th at Ouachita Parish LSU AgCenter Extension Office. Contact Cathy Agan for more information.
  • Healthy Communities Coalition Meeting, 1:30PM Ouachita Parish: Meeting on April 12th at Ouachita Parish LSU AgCenter Extension Office. Contact Cathy Agan for more information.
  • PLAYSTREETS, 9AM Franklin Parish: LSU AgCenter Presents PLAYSTREETS at the Crowville Spring Fling on April 2, 2022. Contact Quincy Vidrine for more information.

3/18/2022 4:24:26 PM
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The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture