Hey Travis County… What’s for ‘Dinner Tonight!?’

AgriLife Extension program focuses on easy, economical, healthful recipes

AUSTIN – If you are among the many Texans overwhelmed by planning and preparing quick, healthy, cost-effective meals for yourself and your family, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service can help, said an agency expert serving Travis County.

“The percentage of the family food budget spent on eating out has steadily increased since the 1970s, and so has the quantity of calories the typical American family consumes,” said Sonia Coyle, AgriLife Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.

The Dinner Tonight! program in Travis County is part of a statewide effort by AgriLife Extension to provide instruction on  making quick, easy and affordable meals for the family -- and to promote family mealtime. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

The Dinner Tonight! program in Travis County is part of a statewide effort by AgriLife Extension to provide instruction on making quick, easy and affordable meals for the family and to encourage family mealtime. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

To help address this situation, Coyle said, the Dinner Tonight! program was developed by AgriLife Extension agents statewide to provide resources and recipes to help encourage Texans to have family mealtime through the preparation of easy, nutritious, tasty and economical recipes. AgriLife Extension is an educational outreach agency of the Texas A&M University System.

“We have a Dinner Tonight! website that is updated every Wednesday with a new recipe and video demonstration webcast showing how to prepare that recipe,” she said. “The recipes are available to the public at no cost through these weekly video webcasts and other web-based methods, including blogs and Facebook.

Coyle said families in Travis County can sign up to receive weekly emails providing information on the program and announcing new webcast recipes by contacting her at 512-854-9600 or  angela.reyes@co.travis.tx.us.

“Dinner Tonight! videos are three to six minutes long and are produced in a similar manner as mainstream television cooking shows,” she said. “Recipes are grouped under headings such as chicken, beef, seafood, pork, turkey, vegetarian, salads, soups, sandwiches casseroles and slow-cooker.”

There are currently more than 200 free video webcasts of easy-to-prepare nutritious recipes under the Dinner Tonight! tab on the Healthy Living website, http://healthyliving.tamu.edu.

Dinner Tonight! recipe videos can also be viewed by watching Travis County television, TCTV-Channel 17, on Time Warner Cable.

In addition to AgriLife Extension personnel, instructors from the Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension Program and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program will participate in bringing the program to residents of Travis County.

“Along with AgriLife Extension and EFNEP, we will be presenting Dinner Tonight! programs throughout the county, including Dinner Tonight! Healthy Cooking Schools,” said Dr. Crystal Wiltz, Cooperative Extension Program agent for family and consumer sciences, Travis County.

“These cooking schools provide an opportunity for people to get together in a fun environment and have experts show them how to plan and prepare quick, easy, nutritious meals for themselves and their families,” she said.

A Dinner Tonight! Healthy Cooking School will be offered in Travis County in early March of 2014, with more information available by email through signing up for weekly emails from the  AgriLife Extension office in Travis County or the Healthy Living website.

For information on more AgriLife Extension health and wellness topics and programs, go to the Facebook site for AgriLife Extension in Travis County at http://www.facebook.com/traviscofcs or the AgriLife Extension Family and Consumer Sciences website at http://fcs.tamu.edu/.

“We hope families in Austin and throughout Travis County will call or email us at the AgriLife Extension office and ask to receive our free weekly email with program information and a video of a new quick, healthy and economical recipe,” Coyle said.

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