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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.
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.
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.
Milk from a cow is consumed by millions of kids and adults each day. It comes in whole milk (150 calories/1 cup), 2%, 1% and of course, skim milk (80 calories/1 cup), which has no fat at all. The American Heart Association recommends that people over the age of two years drink skim or 1% milk to keep saturated fat intake reasonable. But for various reasons, many folks will not drink milk from a cow.
Soy Milk comes in plain, vanilla & chocolate flavors. It has slightly less protein than cow’s milk at 5 g protein/1 cup and 100 calories. It is completely cholesterol-free. Look for brands that have calcium and vitamin D added. It can be used as a beverage and in recipes that call for milk.
Rice and Almond Milks are very low protein – only 1 gram/1 cup. They have been fortified with vitamins A, B12, and vitamin D to mimic cow’s milk. Rice milk has 120 calories/1 cup and almond milk only 60 calories/1 cup.
Coconut Milk has a thicker texture than the other milk replacements AND more calories – a hefty 445 calories and 48 g fat/1 cup! The protein is similar to soy milk at 5 g/1 cup.
There are several reasons that folks bypass cow’s milk and find a milk-alternative: lactose intolerance, dairy allergy or the choice to be vegan and eliminate all animal products. It’s great that there are milk alternatives for use as a beverage or as an ingredient in recipes.
Halloween is just around the corner, and ~65 million kids will go trick-or-treating. Many parents are groaning thinking about all
of the candy (SUGAR!), so let me share tips to lighten the sugar load.
Think NON-FOOD trick-or-treat choices: pencils, erasers, markers, glow sticks, mini rubber balls; sidewalk chalk, stickers, marbles, and bubbles.
Think NON-CANDY trick-or-treat choices: pre-packaged “snack packs” of goldfish crackers or mini pretzels, packs of sugar-free gum, and granola bars.
Channel the Halloween spirit into a learning opportunity… Talk with your kids about what fruits and veggies are orange. How
do they grow and where? How might they be used? How can you cook them? How do they taste?
If you do plan to give out candy, three suggestions:
Instead of trick-or-treating, plan a neighborhood Halloween party with games and healthy nibbles for kids and parents.
I guess that most everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But many kids head to school without anything in their tummies.
Why is breakfast so important? Nutrition-wise it provides
Eating breakfast helps
Kids are less likely to eat breakfast when the parents also don’t eat breakfast – or when they get up at the last minute to dash to school. You CAN make breakfast happen:
A healthy breakfast is as simple as 1-2-3:
And breakfast is the perfect time to connect with your kids about what they have going on today at school.
Nontraditional breakfast ideas:
Back to school already!! Where did summer go? And now lunches are being packed. What you pack is important, because your child needs a nutritious lunch to refuel for the afternoon activities, as well as to give them nutrients for growth and gaining height.
Lunch box protein ideas:
Lunch box starch ideas:
Lunch box essentials:
Lunch box foods are important to meet nutritional needs. But also keep food safe.
People in this country looooooove their white bread, white rice, refined cereals and white pasta – but lots of the good stuff (vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber) are stripped away during the refining process, so there’s less nutritional benefit to these foods. A new study reports on the various health benefits from eating lots of unprocessed whole grains.
In a 9-year nutrition study of 388,000+ men and women, those who had the most dietary fiber (25-30 grams/day) were 22% less likely to die than those who ate the least fiber (11-13 grams/day). Now remember, dietary fiber comes from fruits, vegetables and whole-grains – the pulp, peel, leaves, stems, etc. of plant foods.
Whole grains seemed to offer the most protection. They include: brown & wild rice, barley, quinoa… plus, whole oats, whole wheat and whole rye found in cereals, bread products, flours and pasta.
This study also found that the risk for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases was cut by as much as 59% in some folks with the highest fiber intake. Whole grains seemed to be the most important fiber source to offer protection.
Enjoy a whole-grain day! The USDA recommends 3 servings of whole grains each day. For example:
Breakfast – oatmeal or whole-grain cold cereal
Lunch- sandwich made with multi-grainbread, tortilla, bun or pita pocket
Dinner – stir fry served over wild rice-quinoa mixture.
Whole-grains! It’s as easy as 1-2-3 servings per day.