Cass County 4-H

We are excited to announce that the Cass County 4-H FaceBook page is up and running.  You can get to our FaceBook page by searching Cass County,MO 4-H or by clicking here then like our page to keep up todate on all up and coming events.

Dried Fruit – Smart Choice or Health Risk?

We know fruit is healthy, so can dried fruit meet our daily needs?  Dried fruit is high in fiber, which is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Dried fruit can help relieve constipation, lower blood cholesterol and keep your stomach full and satisfied.  Dried fruit is also high in potassium and iron. Depending on the specific drying process and treatments used, sulfur dioxide, a common additive, can preserve vitamins A and C.  “Dried fruit is great choice for a portable, nutritious snack, but there are drawbacks,” says Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition/Health Specialist with MU Extension.

“Many dried fruits have added sulfites, so for those who are allergic to sulfites, make sure to choose organic dried fruits,” shares Mills-Gray.  She adds, “Also, between pretreatment and dehydration processes, there is actually nutrient loss, for example, B vitamins.” Also, dried fruits are calorically dense. One cup of fresh apricot halves has 74 calories, while about 1/4 cup of dried apricot halves (its equivalent) has 313 calories (more than four times the amount).

While nibbling on dried fruits can be a great alternative to munching on cookies, crackers, candies and other snacks, consume them in moderation; just because they're fruit, doesn't mean you should eat them in large amounts.  While fresh fruits contain more vitamins and minerals than dried fruits, both count toward the suggested daily two to three servings of fruit. Stick to fresh fruit as much as possible, and when you still want dried fruits, choose varieties without added sugars. 

For more information, contact your local University of Missouri Extension Center, or this faculty member directly at

GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop

We are excited to offer another seminar on GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation, June 11-12, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Click here for flyer (PDF)

The federal General Services Administration (GSA) awards about $50 billion in blanket contracts known as “Schedules” to hundreds of companies each year. Eighty percent (80%) of Schedule contractors are small businesses who are successful at 36% of those sales. The process to win one of these contracts begins with a proposal, an arduous task that typically takes several months to prepare.

Now, thanks to the Workshop’s unique approach, a GSA proposal can be actually completed at the Workshop. If a business is not prepared to submit all the documentation at the time of the workshop, the GSA proposal preparation process easily can be shortened to within 30 days following the workshop.

Here’s the link to register:

Shave Holiday Calories with 10 Simple Swaps

Create healthier versions of your holiday favorites by shaving calories wherever you can. “Small changes overtime brings the largest health rewards,” says Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition/Health Specialist with University of Missouri Extension.  “Many believe that radical changes are needed to improve your dietary intake and while all positive changes are good, radical changes are hard to stick with over time, that’s why I recommend minor changes so that taste and texture are protected.” Susan suggests the following to make your holiday’s lighter!

  1. Use non-fat yogurt or low-fat buttermilk for fat in baked goods
  2. Use evaporated skim milk for cream
  3. Use non-fat plain yogurt for sour cream or mayonnaise
  4. Reduce total fat and sugar by ¼ to 1/3 in baked goods, with the exception of yeast products
  5. Add cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla to recipe to enhance sweetness
  6. Use alternative sweeteners of choice – check each brand’s website for tips on use and recipes
  7. Salt may be reduced or omitted in most recipes with the exception of yeast products
  8. Rely on herbs and spices rather than salt for flavor
  9. Rinse canned vegetables to remove salt
  10. Use light alternatives for milk, cheeses, sour cream, mayonnaise, salad dressings, cottage cheese and margarines, as well as reduced sodium products

For more assistance with modifying recipes, contact your local MU Extension Center or this faculty member directly at