QuickTip Tuesday: Avoid Covid-19 Scams

scam photo

Scammers never seem to miss an opportunity to take advantage of natural disasters and other major life disruptions. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

Several scams have already been reported. One example involves a telephone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The caller asks for bank information in order to auto-deposit the upcoming stimulus check.

While it may sound legitimate, this is a scam. Congress just approved the stimulus checks and the IRS will send checks to the address they have on file from your 2018 tax return. The IRS will not call to ask for this information.

Many rip-offs take similar approaches, typically promising a benefit in exchange for personal information. They also tend to target older people, who may have health concerns to prey on.

In another scam, a fake Medicare authority will ask for data so that the victim can receive the COVID-19 vaccine or other medicines.  The thief can then make false charges to the victim’s Medicare account or even an insurance company. Keep in mind, no vaccine currently is available and likely will not be for at least a year.

A variation on this is that someone may actually show up at your home to administer the alleged vaccine and once inside your home, they will try to rob you. Never let people into your home whom you don’t know.

Fake email addresses can seem authentic, appearing to be from the U.S. Department of Treasury or other government agencies.

In an effort to help the public avoid such crimes:

  • Do not give any personal information about credit card numbers, banking information, social security numbers or insurance or Medicare accounts, even if the caller claims to be from the government.
  • Never let strangers into the home. Even if they have official-looking uniforms or badges, confirm their identities first.
  • Trust suspicions about anything that seems out of the ordinary.

Scammers are coming up with new ways every day to steal from us. If anything seems a little bit off, hang up the phone, close the door and don’t respond to the unsolicited email. Get someone you trust to help figure out the best thing to do. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Foodie Friday: April Menu

March brought my family a lot of really good food! I ate at Zoe’s Mediterranean Kitchen back in February and fell in love with their chicken kabobs and I had to learn how to make them, so in March, Amelia and I made chicken souvlaki. Sophie helped me make tzatziki sauce. Both recipes were surprisingly easy and tasted very similar to the restaurant version. Success! I served these with roasted vegetables (just whatever I had in my fridge) and cauliflower rice. The cauliflower rice was a first for our family and it was received with lukewarm enthusiasm. March also brought us some new challenges with grocery shopping, that the whole country is currently working through. Feel free to comment with your own grocery shopping tips and tricks to stay safe. Luckily, the Wal-Mart here in Chandler launched grocery pick-up right before the pandemic found us. Unfortunately, everyone is using it so getting a convenient time-slot is difficult.

I am excited to be switching from soups to salads on Mondays because that means Spring is finally here! We will also be grilling quite a bit and I hope to be sharing some cooking/grilling videos with you in the very near future.

Here is the April menu. Enjoy!

April 2020 Menu

April Menu Pinterest Board (where you can find some recipes)

April 2020 Menu

Cooking Videos

During the Covid-19 pandemic/social distancing era, the Lincoln County Extension office is looking a little different. We are still open, but we are rotating the staff. This means we are mostly working from home, each taking one day a week to be in the office to limit contact with other humans. During this time, I want to try my hand at making some cooking videos. Some will be with my kids, others without. What I need to know is this:

What do you want to learn? Are there any recipes you have wanted to try but haven’t because you’re intimidated? Are there any skills on which you would like some instruction? Let me know in the comments section or via Facebook.

I am looking forward to this little project. It’s something  I have always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time. Now the time has been given to me in a little gift-wrapped box.

QuickTip Tuesday: DIY Sanitizing Solution

Covid-19 is keeping people at home as much as possible and causing quite a stir on the grocery shelves. Apparently, people are buying toilet paper and sanitizing wipes like crazy! I can’t help with homemade toilet paper, but I can give you a quick and easy recipe for a homemade sanitizing solution. This is for sanitizing surfaces in the home, not hand sanitizer!

sanitizing solution

And it’s important to note the difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning is the physical removal of dirt, germs, and other debris from surfaces using soaps and detergents (or just a plain wet rag.)  Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces by disinfecting and killing the microorganisms. It is important to do both of these tasks.

If you want to know more, I wrote about green cleaning a few years ago. There are more recipes in that post.

 

Foodie Friday: Yogurt Veggie Dip

yogurt dip

I know that when my kids are in school they can successfully go from breakfast to lunch without eating. I have never once received a phone call from the school urgently asking for a snack because my kid has wilted from hunger. All the same, when they are home, they think my sole purpose in life is to feed them snacks every 17.5 minutes. Today my Sophie asked what we were having for an afternoon snack while she was still eating lunch!

I thought I’d share this recipe for a healthy snack that is low fat, low salt, and low sugar. You can feel good about your kids eating this- and you’ll like it too!

Yogurt Veggie Dip

This is a dump and stir recipe. Just dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir.

3/4 C plain, nonfat Greek yogurt

1/4 C low-fat mayo

1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes

1/2 tsp dried minced onion

1/2 tsp dried dill

1/2 tsp salt-free spice mix (like Mrs. Dash)

1/2 tsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

pinch of pepper

Serving size of 2 tablespoons has 32 calories, 2g fat, 110 mg sodium, 5 mg cholesterol, 3g carbohydrate, 1g protein

 

 

Shopping for Food Safely During COVID-19

apple-2020317104001Most everyone is familiar with stocking up on a few extra essentials during storm season. However, with cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise, people are finding themselves social distancing for longer periods.

Undoubtedly, many Oklahomans have made the trek to the grocery store to get supplies, which is a good idea. While most folks are stocked up for several days, or even a couple of weeks, they will eventually have to go back to the store for more supplies. Be sure to keep safety precautions in mind before venturing out of the house.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before leaving the house. Obviously, people will come into contact with a lot of different surfaces while they shop, including shopping carts, credit card keypads and products others have touched. Shoppers may ask themselves if the fresh produce and other food items are safe.

No washing method completely removes or kills all microbes which may be present on
produce. However, studies have shown that thoroughly rinsing fresh produce under running water is an effective way to reduce the number of microorganisms. Washing fruits and vegetables not only helps remove dirt, bacteria and stubborn garden pests but also helps remove residual pesticides.

It is a good idea to wait to wash produce until it is ready to be used. Washing produce before use may promote bacterial growth and speed up spoilage, so it is recommended to wait and wash fruits and vegetables right before using them. For those who may want to go ahead and wash the produce before storing, be sure to dry thoroughly with clean paper towels.

Try to maintain social distancing as much as possible. Move away from people who are
coughing, especially those who fall into a higher risk category. Wearing gloves while shopping is an extra layer of protection, too.

Once the groceries are bagged and people are ready to leave the store, take advantage of hand sanitizers or disinfecting wipes at the door if they are available. And, try not to touch your face.

Once back at home, give those hands another thorough washing. At this point, there is no scientific evidence that you need need to wipe down all of the groceries when putting them away. This really is a matter of preference, and an extra measure of caution certainly won’t hurt anything, but if items are going to be stored for a week or more before being used, there isn’t a need to wipe them down before storing.

Another option for people in some areas is home delivery. Several companies offer this service, and it could be a very handy alternative, especially for those consumers who are at higher risk of becoming infected. The same safety precautions apply in that consumers should wash their hands thoroughly after accepting the home delivery.

Being vigilant about cleaning does not apply just to groceries. Be sure to regularly wipe down countertops, faucets, doorknobs, cabinet pulls, refrigerator handles and toilet handles with sanitizing wipes, soap and water or a spray bleach solution. This whole scenario is new to us and information is changing every day. Don’t be afraid to go to the store, but be sure to take all of these precautions to help ensure your health and safety.

QuickTips for Extended School Break

The Oklahoma Board of Education announced yesterday that schools would be closed at least until April 6th. That’s three weeks for kids to be at home and we all know what happens when kids are home from school. They eat. All. Day. Long. They watch TV and keep their noses in their devices if we let them.

My tip for parents everywhere is to make a daily schedule for your kids. Be sure to include some time to play; some intellectual stimulation like handwriting practice, journaling, math facts flashcards, or practicing a musical instrument. Include set snacks and lunchtimes so kids know when they are going to be fed again. Schedule in some rest time when younger kids can nap and older kids can read. Also, with everyone home during the day, the house might get a little dirtier than normal. Schedule in a short period for chores and have the kids help out in age-appropriate ways.

I started working on a schedule for the babysitter to use during summer break. Now we have the opportunity to test this schedule out and tweak it as needed before I have a babysitter enforcing it.

summer schedule