General Information: (434) 654-7000 OR 1-800-633-6353
Memorial Day is a seasonal marker….time for moving our eating to the great outdoors. But picnics and barbecues are conducted in warm weather, and that means bacteria get happy and multiply. And that means the possibility for food borne illnesses. And the most important thing to remember is keeping foods at their safe temps – in other words, hot foods kept hot, and cold foods kept cold.
Temperature Safety: Keep cold foods at 40 degrees or less and hot foods at 140 degrees or more. If they are sitting in the outdoor temperature, be sure they stay out for only one hour at most. Especially when the outdoor temps are over 90 degrees.
Safe grilling: 1) Marinate foods in the fridge. 2) If you partially cook them in your kitchen, grill them immediately afterwards – no sitting out at room temp for a while. 3) Don’t reuse platters or utensils that contained raw uncooked foods or their juices. Yuck.
Cooler Safety: 1) Roomy coolers so there is room for lots of ice between containers. 2) Use small containers for foods. 3) Food should already be chilled when it goes into the cooler – no warm foods. 4) Pack up beverages in their own cooler. The drink cooler tends to be opened more often, and that will cool down the interior.
Other picnic safety reminders: 1) Rinse your produce before putting it in the cooler. 2) Make sure the ice or frozen gel packs are really frozen solid. 3) Store coolers in the shade or under the picnic table. 4) Take food out in small batches, and replenish with chilled food.
More picnic and cookout safety information at www.fda.gov.
I know- daytime sure is busy, and it becomes very convenient to pick up a prepared meal on the way home to feed your hungry family. If your kids are older, it is also easy to just let them fend for themselves, eating whatever they find in the fridge, and eating wherever they land. But you know my message: you gotta eat as many meals as possible with your kids, no matter their age. Easy mealtime ideas:
Make-Your-Own Burritos or Tacos: (1) The starch- whole-grain corn tacos or whole-grain corn or flour tortillas; (2) The veggies – peppers, onions, avocadoes, shredded carrots; (3) The protein – soy crumbles, ground turkey or beef or venison, grated 2% cheeses; and (4) The toppers – chopped fresh cilantro, salsa, Ranch dressing.
Make-Your-Own Salads: (1) The veggies: greens including baby spinach, shredded carrots, radishes, snow peas, pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli florets, zucchini strips, (2) The protein: nuts, 2% cheese cubes, chopped egg, tuna fish, turkey breast, chicken strips; (3) The starch: kidney or black beans, chick peas, green peas; and (4) The toppers: sunflower seeds, oil & vinegar dressing or other homemade dressing.
Make-Your-Own Breakfast Parfaits (great for supper, too): (1)The starch: crunchy cereal, dry oats, wheat germ; (2) The protein: reduced-fat vanilla dairy or soy milk yogurt; (3) The fruit: assorted fresh or frozen berries, banana slices, crushed pineapple, kiwi slices.
In a way, what you have at your meals is not as important as eating the meals with your kids, sitting around the table, facing each other engaged in conversation. We can learn so much about our kids, and vice versus, they learn about us and from us. We don’t have to lecture about eating a variety of healthy foods if we just serve them up. We don’t have to talk about the perils of drinking sodas if we just serve milk at meals. Enjoy the time with them. They’ll be out of the house before you know it.
Family meals, no matter the hour or which meal, are important in many ways for children, young and old. This is my mantra – eat with your kids around the table – face to face. You get to chat with them, and hear their ideas, thoughts and dreams. They get to chat with you, learning about your work, the community that you live in, and the happenings in the world.
Here’s an idea – a family dinner menu featuring Old-Fashioned Turkey Meatloaf.
TIP: Prep in the morn and bake off in the evening. Make 2 pans to have extra for sandwiches and quick dinners.
Family dinner sides to go with Old-Fashioned Meatloaf:
What can the kids to help with dinner?
Kids are pretty interesting. For sure, they do what we do, and not necessarily do what we say. So providing healthy meals and then modeling healthy eating habits, which means reasonable portions, is something they will be very tuned into. If we are drinking soda with a meal, they are going to want that. When our kids were at home, we all drank milk or water with the meal. No sodas at all. They are still milk drinkers today, as young adults.
It is hard to believe but thousands of people in our area, young and old, do not have enough food. They experience hunger almost every day. There are many reasons that they don’t have enough money for food, but the bottom line is that they must make decisions between buying food or paying for their medicines or fuel or rent. The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and the Charlottesville Albemarle Emergency Food Bank provide food for many families each month throughout the year.
There are many area agencies that benefit from our Food Banks: food pantries and soup kitchens, schools and churches, and other nonprofit groups.
The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank has the Back Pack program – it provides at-risk elementary school children with a backpack of food for the weekend and over holidays. The Kids Café program provides nutritious snacks in after-school programs for at-risk kids. And there is a summer feeding program as well.
Non-perishable donations are always welcome whenever there is the opportunity to donate. This means foods that are canned, boxed or in jars, and are safe to store outside of a refrigerator. And, be sure that they have NOT expired.
Nonperishable items for food banks: jars of nut butter, pasta sauce, cans of tuna fish and salmon, light-packed canned fruits and low-sodium vegetables; bags of rice and dried beans; boxes of whole-grain pasta and cereals.
National guidelines for fruits and vegetable intake are not being met by young adults aged 19-30 years of age. At least 2 cups of fruits and 2-3 cups vegetables are suggested. A 10-year study of over 1,000 teens and young adults had some interesting results about what factors promote a great intake of produce.
Current produce intake by teens and young people only ½ cup per day of fruits and 1 cup/day of vegetables. Far below the recommendations.
What predicted a higher produce intake when the youth reached young adulthood?
When raising kids, it is so important to let fruits and vegetables be front and central in your daily menus. Serving limp, colorless, dull over-cooked produce will never be appealing to your family. Think opposite… interesting, colorful, in-season, slightly cooked, and flavorful!
It’s the Fall. There’s a nip in the air and many of us are enjoying football games over the weekends. And that means tailgating! Healthy ideas…..
Tailgating, protein foods for the grill:
Make-ahead one-dish tailgating ideas:
Feature locally fresh apples at the tailgating party:
It helps to plan ahead, have foods that are pretty easy to eat, wrapped and packed for simplicity. And be sure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold for the safety of all who are there.
It’s true. What you have at breakfast can affect the rest of your morning, and even the day. Skipping breakfast usually results in overeating later in the day – the body wants to make up for what you missed nutrition-wise, in the morning. Be sure to make breakfast happen – that’s especially important for all the kids heading off to school these days.
Breakfast should include a variety of foods…. (1) protein, (2) starch, and (3) vegetable/fruit. And if you can, eat within one hour of getting up – this will get your metabolism revved and help keep your blood glucose levels in the normal range.
Plan ahead for breakfast:
Try something different for breakfast:
Make breakfast happen in your household:
Wow, where did summer go? Already backpacks are full, buses are busy picking up kids for school, and lunches are being packed. There are certainly easy ready-made lunch items found in the grocery stores, but what you gain in convenience you lose out in good ole nutrition because they are often far too high in calories, fat, sugar and sodium.
The foundation for a packed bag lunch should be:
(1) Protein: eggs, cheese, poultry, meats, nuts & nut butters, legumes
(2) Starch: bread, rolls, tortilla, crackers, muffins, pasta, rice
(3) Vegetables and Fruits
(4) Beverage: milk or water
Three brown bag lunch ideas:
(1) leftover rice, cheese cubes and veggies combo
(2) string cheese, apple muffin and fruit cup
(3) whole-grain tortilla with hummus and avocado slices.
Treats to add to lunches: teddy grahams, simple wafer cookies, sunchips, pudding cups. And don’t forget little notes occasionally to let your children of all ages know how special they are. (Personally I think our teens really need these love-you notes).
Keep packed lunches safe – include a solidly frozen ice pack. And be sure to wash out the lunch bag or box every single night to keep bacteria at bay.
At the recent annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, the best heart-healthy snacks were recommended to keep the vascular system in tip-top shape.
No. 1 Heart Healthy Snack (Top of the list): Raisins! They are high in antioxidants (to protect your arteries!), potassium (300 mg in a small box), and a good fiber source.
No. 2 Heart Healthy Snack: Soy foods. This includes soy milk (use in a fruit smoothie), soy cheese (a topper for whole-grain crackers), soy nuts, and oven-roasted edamame. Soy provides isoflavones for heart health.
No. 3 Heart Healthy Snack: Walnuts. These nuts are packed with potassium to lower blood pressure, as well as healthy monounsaturated oils. Also considered a great brain food!
No. 4 Heart Healthy Snacks: Avocados. This fruit has monounsaturated fats to lower cholesterol, and more potassium than a banana (700 mg for 1 cup of sliced avocado).
No. 5 Heart Healthy Snacks: High-fiber foods in general. This includes whole-grains such as oats (oat snack bars), multi-grain crackers and pretzels, popcorn, fruits and vegetables. Fiber can bind cholesterol in the intestinal tract, and may help with weight control.
In the midst of the holiday cheer, take a moment to think about the hundreds of local families who are struggling in tough situations, often without income. It may just be a short-term situation, but still, they need to provide food for their family. This is where our local food bank can help.
Are you familiar with the Charlottesville-Albemarle Emergency Food Bank? It’s a volunteer organization that provides a 3-day food supply to local individuals and families in need.
What foods are provided in the emergency grocery bags? FRESH milk, margarine and bread, for starters. Also, nonperishable foods such as canned tuna, soups and stews, peanut butter for protein; canned fruits and vegetables; and then pasta, rice and beans for grains.
If you know of someone in need, contact the Charlottesville-Albemarle Emergency Food Bank at (434) 979-9180. Call Monday-Friday, 9:00AM-12:00PM, and then pick up your food bags that afternoon between 1:30-3:30PM.
The Emergency Food Bank also provides baby food and formula, snacks for the Bright Stars pre-school program, and food supplies to the groups that feed lunch to the homeless.