Egg Safety

March 26th, 2015

pasteurized egg cartonToday I wanted to answer some questions that we often receive about eggs.

Salmonella is something that we have heard in the news in recent years.  People have gotten sick from eating uncooked or under cooked eggs.  This includes using raw eggs in recipes for homemade ice cream, sauces or even leaving your yolks runny when making fried eggs.  Your only option to continue to make these recipes is to use pasteurized eggs.  Pasteurized eggs have been heated to a temperature high enough to kill the bacteria but not cook the egg.  Pasteurized shell eggs are now available at some grocery stores. Like all eggs, they must be kept refrigerated to retain quality and safety. Unfortunately pasteurizing eggs at home is not an option. The equipment to pasteurize shell eggs isn’t available for home use, and it is very difficult to do at home without cooking the egg. Liquid eggs are also pasteurized and can be used in uncooked recipes.

Did you know that older eggs are easier to peel? That’s because the air cell, found at the large end of the shell between the shell membranes, increases in size the longer the raw egg is stored and as the moisture inside the egg evaporates through the shell. As the air cell enlarges, the shell becomes easier to peel.  Also just because an egg floats in water doesn’t mean it is bad. As the air cell increases it will make the egg become buoyant. It means the egg is older but it may still be perfectly safe to use. A spoiled egg will have an unpleasant odor when you break open the shell, whether it is raw or cooked.

Here are a few other tips from the Food Safety and Inspection Service on handling eggs in dishes.

  • Egg mixtures are safe if they reach 160 °F, so homemade ice cream and eggnog can be made safely from a cooked egg-milk mixture. Heat it gently and use a food thermometer.
  • Dry meringue shells are safe. So are divinity candy and 7-minute frosting, made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites. Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites.
  • Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350 °F for about 15 minutes. Chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream, or a whipped topping.
  • To make a recipe safe that specifies using eggs that aren’t cooked, heat the eggs in a liquid from the recipe over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 °F. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.
  • To determine doneness in egg dishes such as quiche and casseroles, the center of the mixture should reach 160 °F when measured with a food thermometer.
  • Eggs and egg dishes, such as quiches or soufflés, may be refrigerated for serving later but should be thoroughly reheated to 165°F (74°C) before serving.

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Food Preservation, Food Safety, recipes

Leather care tips!

March 23rd, 2015

A leather or suede garment is usually a major investment, and it is important to choose it carefully and care for it wisely. In selecting a leather garment. Buy from a reputable store. Look for careful matching of colors and textures. Avoid a snug fit. Hides are stretched during tanning and some relaxation shrinkage can be expected in use and cleaning. Read and save any accompanying care information. Light colors are less likely to fade in cleaning than are deep colors.  Heavy buckles or trim could cause tears in the leather in wear or cleaning.  Suede and leather are natural materials.  They will never be completely uniform, but that is part of their desirability.

There are several things to consider when cleaning leather garments. Remember, suede is the underside of the leather, buffed to a uniform nap and used as the outside of the garment. Frequent brushing with a soft brush will help to remove surface soils. In smooth leather, the outside of the skin is the outside of the garment. Wipe smooth leather with a damp cloth to remove surface soils.

Remember these care tips to keep your garment in top condition. The tips apply to both suede and smooth leathers.

  • Wear a scarf to protect the collar area from perspiration and body oils.
  • If the garment gets wet, let it air dry away from heat.
  • Store leather garments in a cool, ventilated area. Leather is subject to drying out if exposed to dry heat and to mildew if stored in a hot, humid environment.
  • Do not store leather in a plastic bag.
  • If staining occurs, take the garment to a professional suede and leather cleaner as soon as possible.  DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE SPOTS AT HOME.

 

When it is time to take leather clothing to the cleaners, remember:

  • Have all matching pieces cleaned at the same time.
  • Give your cleaner any care information that came with the garment.
  • Point out any stains. Old, set stains cannot always be removed safely.
  • Don’t be surprised if your cleaner asks you to sign a consent form before cleaning. This will occur only if there is some question about clean-ability.
  • Many cleaners send leathers to a specialty leather cleaner.  After you get your clothing back from the cleaners, realize that leather garments are made up of skins taken from various portions of the animal and usually from several different animals. The manufacturer tries to match the skins so that your garment is as uniform as possible, but even with the best matching, there will be some variance in texture, weight, and color uniformity. These variations may be accentuated after cleaning.  Be prepared to see a slight variance in the depth of color after cleaning. In manufacture, the tanner immersed the skin in a dye bath to obtain a uniform color, but skins from various parts of the animal may vary in colorfastness. The cleaner can correct some color variance, but must rely on spray dyeing, which will not dye the suede or leather to the same degree as the original immersion process.
  • During tanning, leathers are impregnated with oils to keep them supple. Some of these oils used in the tanning process are lost in cleaning. Even though the professional leather cleaner has special additives to restore suppleness, there could be some change in the feel or hand of the garment.

Some imperfections may become more apparent after cleaning:

SCAR TISSUE: The animal’s skin may have been injured while it was alive by briars, barbed wire, diseases, or in fights with other animals. The resulting scar tissue does not dye evenly, so it is covered with fillers before dyeing. These fillers are removed in cleaning, and the original scar tissue will become more apparent, usually as a light area.

VEIN MARKS: Some thick skins are split, revealing the veins in the skin as irregular, wavy lines. These are also masked with fillers and reappear after cleaning.

WRINKLES: Skins taken from the loose neck or belly portion of an animal are normally wrinkled. The skins are stretched out to some degree when the garment is made up and the wrinkles are hardly visible. As the skins relax with age, the wrinkles reappear. The agitation that occurs in cleaning can cause greater relaxation of the leather, accentuating the wrinkles.

TEXTURE CHANGE: The manufacturer tries to select skins of uniform texture for a garment, but sometimes smoother skin is combined with a skin or portion of skin with a coarser texture. Cleaning may make this variance more apparent.

SHRINKAGE: Some shrinkage will likely occur in your garment over time as the skins relax. This may be accentuated in cleaning. As you wear a leather garment it tends to conform comfortably to your body. After cleaning, the leather is pressed, so it may feel a little uncomfortable or snug when you first put it on. As you wear it this feeling will dissipate. Sometimes skins are overstretched in manufacture and relax permanently. This problem cannot be anticipated by the cleaner.

THIN SKINS: Some skins are extremely thin and really too fragile for use in apparel. These skins tend to wear through exceptionally fast even with normal usage. The agitation of cleaning may cause separation of very thin skins.

STAINS: Leather is very absorbent. Stains sink right into the texture of the skin. Because leather is an animal skin, the structure can be damaged by stain removal techniques that would be safe for textiles. Another limitation is the dyes used on leather. Stain removal can also mean dye removal. Particularly on garments worn next to the skin, perspiration can cause color loss. This may be masked by body oils until after cleaning. Leathers are also susceptible to rings caused by the migration of dye if a liquid is spilled on them. This is difficult or impossible to remedy. Given all the potential problems, prompt attention to stains is the best hope for their removal.

OXIDATION: Dyes can oxidize from exposure to light and to gases in the atmosphere. This is a slow, progressive condition that develops as the item is worn. It may become more noticeable after cleaning, but protected areas, such as under the color, will retain more of the original color. Once this type of fading has occurred, it cannot be corrected.

COLOR SHADING FROM ADHESIVES: Adhesives are sometimes used to glue seams, hems, and other areas during construction. These glues or adhesives may not be solvent resistant. The adhesive may be removed during cleaning, causing hems to open and necessitating regluing by the cleaner. Sometimes the glues don’t dissolve completely, but leach through the leather and cause shaded areas. This cannot always be corrected by additional cleaning.

SHADED LEATHER: The texture of skins varies, and some skins tend to absorb more of the fat liquors and cleaning additives in cleaning and come out a little darker in some areas than others. Sometimes this shading can be seen on the garment before cleaning, but cleaning will accentuate it. Many people consider such shading a desirable characteristics. In any case, it is a natural phenomenon that is beyond the control of the dry-cleaner.

It is very important to check the care label on an imitation leather or suede. Some of these fabrics are quite fragile and will not withstand dry cleaning. The most common problem is failure of a film coating or of an adhesive. This results in self-sticking of the fabric or in blistering or puckering of the coating. On flocked items, the flocked coating may be lost in wear areas such as collars and cuffs. Cleaning may aggravate this condition. Nonwoven structures usually withstand dry cleaning very well.

You have made an investment in quality. Therefore, take good care of your leather garment to add to its life and appearance.

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Cleaning, Textiles

The Many Uses of Baking Soda

March 19th, 2015

baking soda

 

Baking soda is something that everyone has in their cupboards to use in baking but it has so many other uses as well.  Did you know that more than 100 tons of baking soda was used to clean the Statue of Liberty’s inner copper walls during its 1986 restoration?  If it is good enough for the Statue of Liberty just think of the ways that it can be used in your home!

  • Use it to clean off sticky grease on pans or kitchen equipment (ex. waffle maker). The baking soda acts like an eraser to clean off the grease.
  • To clean a drain, pour ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of salt down the drain. Follow with ½ cup of vinegar. Cover the drain and let it work for at least 15 minutes. Finish by pouring a tea kettle of boiling water down the drain.
  • Make a paste of baking soda and water in a small container. Apply the paste to your tooth brush to make your own toothpaste.
  • Sprinkle baking soda liberally over dry carpet to remove odors. Leave it on overnight and then vacuum in the morning.
  • If your plastic food containers have picked up a strong odor wash them in hot water and baking soda. Next sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda inside the container. Cover and let it stand for at least one hour or overnight. Wash as usual and the odor should be gone.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge to erase crayon, pencil, ink and furniture scuffs from painted surfaces. Rinse when the mark is removed.
  • Are you getting black marks on your floor from your shoes? Rub the area with a paste of baking soda and water. Rinse and wipe dry.
  • If you have a small grease fire in your kitchen pour baking soda on it to help put it out.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on baked on pans. Then add a little hot water and dish soap. Let it sit and absorb for several minutes then use a kitchen dish scrubber to remove the baked on food.
  • Do you have an oil spot in your garage? Sprinkle a mixture of baking soda and salt over it, let it soak to absorb and then sweep to remove.
  • Adding ½ cup baking soda to top loading machines or ¼ cup to front load washers help you to reduce the amount of bleach you need by half in your laundry.

With so many uses for both cooking and cleaning I keep a several containers of baking soda handy!

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Cleaning, Home Environment, Household Equipment, Laundry

Pillow Talk

March 16th, 2015

Pillows generally last a long time, so you don’t need to buy them very often. But when you do need new ones, it’s helpful to have a few facts at hand. The most common bed pillow fillings are polyester fiber fill, feathers, down, and molded or shredded foams.  The foams may be latex, polyurethane or rubber. Each stuffing material has a somewhat different feel. Fiberfill, feathers and down all feel soft and cushiony.  Down and fiberfill are more resilient than feathers and return to shape more easily after crushing.

Latex and Polyurethane Foam Pillows:

Polyurethane is stiffer than latex. Memory foams are a type of polyurethane.  These foams return to shape immediately after crushing, but can deform with continued pressure over time.  Shredded polyurethane foam tends to feel somewhat lumpy unless stuffed fairly tight and covered with a heavy ticking fabric.  Latex gradually stiffens and crumbles on exposure to oil and air.  Latex will last about 10 years if coverings are washed regularly.

Down and Feather Pillows:

When purchasing down pillows, look for at least 80% down and 20% feathers.  If you can feel quills, there isn’t much down in the pillow.  Pure goose down can be a real sleep inducer, but it is the most expensive type of down pillow. Often, different kinds of feathers may be mixed in the same pillow.

It is not easy to compare one down pillow to another unless you compare weights.  There should be a label attached to the pillow or in the packaging. Down and feather pillows sometimes irritate persons with allergy problems, whereas polyester and other synthetic fiber and foam pillows do not. Sniff a pillow for odor before you buy it.  If dust or lint appears as you pound or pat a pillow, this is a clue it could cause problems.  Down will last a long time.  They are usually dry-cleaned, but when washable, the pillows need careful drying to prevent mildew.

Polyester:

Fiberfill pillows can be easily laundered.  Stuffing can sometimes shift, but you can expect polyester fill pillows to keep their fluffy resilience at least five years.

Washing Feather Pillows:

If you want to wash your feather pillows, make sure the ticking is in good condition before washing. We would also suggest slipping the pillow into a pillow case and basting the case shut, for additional insurance against the ticking failing and releasing the feathers.  Fill the washer with warm water and the regular amount of detergent for a normal load, gentle cycle, agitate to dissolve the detergent.  (Dissolving the detergent is not as critical if a liquid detergent is used.)  For a balanced load, wash two pillows at the same time or one pillow and enough bath towels to balance.  Immerse the pillows in the sudsy water until they are completely wet.  Wash using the gentle or soak cycle for 10 minutes.  Rinse the pillows twice.

To dry, tumble in the automatic dryer using the warmest setting for one hour; reduce the heat and finish drying.  Or, in warmer weather, hang the pillows on a clothes line in a gentle breeze – occasionally “fluff” or move the feathers around within the pillow.  This will take a few hours – then finish drying in an automatic dryer.

Now you can sleep peacefully, enjoying the fresh scent of your clean pillows.

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Home Environment, Household Equipment, Laundry

Tips for cleaning tile

March 12th, 2015

imageAt our house, cabin fever generally sets in about mid-March. I get really tired of looking at snow and driving in snow and staying inside to stay warm. One of the ways that I have found to distract myself is cleaning. I like to take a project that I’ve been putting off and tackle it over a weekend. This weekend I’m going to do some deep cleaning of the tile in my bathrooms.

Glazed tile is easy to clean. Just wash with a damp sponge and an all-purpose cleaner that has some ammonia as one of the ingredients. If you have a spot that requires heavy-duty cleaning use a non-abrasive scouring agent like liquid Ajax, Comet, or Soft Scrub. You can also use a paste made of baking soda on a nylon scouring pad. Remember to rinse with clear water.

Unglazed tiles can be cleaned the same way as glazed tiles. Often unglazed tile s require more aggressive cleaning techniques if the surface is rough or porous. Mold and mildew are not nearly as much of a problem in a kitchen as they are in a damp bathroom. The rough surface will still collect dirt and stains, however. If the above methods don’t work for cleaning the tile, try spreading a paste of scouring powder and water over the tile and allow it to stand for about five minutes. Then scrub the surface with a stiff bristle brush, rinse with clear water and dry. If the tiles still don’t come clean, a poultice-cleaning method can be used. The Ceramic Tile Institute recommends the following procedure: Coat the tile with an undiluted neutral soap (Fels Naptha). Allow to stand and dry and dry for several hours.  Then mix some more with warm water and wet down the tile rub. Rub the tile with a sponge and copious amount of water to remove all the soap; then towel dry.

If the grout looks dirty, clean it with a brush and an all-purpose cleaner or tub, tile and sink cleaner. For badly stained or mildewed grout, use a mildew stain remover or a solution of 3/4 cup of chlorine bleach in one gallon of water. Carefully apply the bleach solution, using a brush. Rinse thoroughly

If I get busy this weekend, I’ll have a nice clean bathroom to enjoy for the rest of the winter. Happy cleaning.

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Cleaning, Housing

Are You Confused About Cooking Terms?

March 9th, 2015

Have you ever been confused about terms that are used in a recipe?  What is the difference between creaming and beating?  How can you tell when egg whites are soft peaks or when they are hard peaks?  Here are some common cooking terms and what they mean:

  • Al dente – this is a term for pasta that is cooked tender but slightly firm.
  • Beat – mixing foods thoroughly to a smooth consistency.
  • Braise – to cook gently in a small amount of liquid in a covered pan.
  • Cream – to incorporate air into the butter, margarine or vegetable shortening and sugar. When creaming have the fat at room temperature and beat at medium speed until light and airy.  The result will be a light fine grained texture.
  • Deglazing – adding a liquid (wine, broth etc.) to remove the bits of caramelized pieces left in a pan after cooking meat. This is the start of a great sauce or gravy.
  • Emulsify – this means to mix two ingredients together that don’t normally combine well like vinegar and oil. Whisk one ingredient very slowly into the other to emulsify.
  • Firm or stiff peaks – continue beating until the volume increases and becomes thick. When the beaters are raised the peaks should stay straight up even if you tilt the bowl.
  • Fold – using a rubber spatula and an over and under motion to combine ingredients without knocking out the air. Add the light ingredient like egg whites to the heavier ingredients and gently fold the mixture over top of itself to combine.  Rotating the pan as you fold helps to mix the ingredients without over mixing.
  • Julienne – to cut food into long thin strips similar to matchsticks. Carrots are quite often julienned.
  • Parboil – to cook a vegetable until it is partially cooked.
  • Pare – to remove the peeling or skin on a fruit or vegetable
  • Pulse – this means to turn a food processor on and off in very short bursts
  • Scald – this is to heat a liquid only until tiny bubbles form around the edge of the mixture. Not to boiling.
  • Sear – browning the meat in a hot pan quickly to seal in the meat juices.
  • Soft peaks – beating on medium speed until the meringue or cream peaks fold over when the beater is lifted out.

If you have a term that you are not sure what it means let us know and we will be glad to explain it to you.  We are only a phone call or email away!

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Food Preparation, Household Equipment, recipes

Time To Get Rid of Your Wallpaper?

March 5th, 2015

After living in our house for 19 years I decided that it was time for a change and undertook the removal of the wallpaper that we had in our kitchen.  I was lucky.  My dad was our wallpaper installer and he used sizing so it came off easily.

That wasn’t what happened in our first house that we purchased when we got married.  There were many layers of wallpaper and it was a much bigger task!

If you have wallpaper and are ready for a change here are the steps to remove it from your walls.

  • Remove all of the electrical face plates, light switches and any nails used to hang pictures. Cover anything electrical with masking or duct tape to protect them from water. It is a good idea to cut the power to the room to avoid water and electricity problems.
  • Place a drop cloth on the floor that is water resistant to keep water off of the carpet, hardwood or tile floor.
  • Test a corner of the wallpaper to see if it easily comes off without taking off the drywall. If it doesn’t come off easily you can use a solvent to help with the removal or you may need to rent a steamer.
  • A solvent can be made at home by mixing hot water with a few tablespoons of white vinegar or hot water and fabric softener in a spray bottle. The important thing to remember is that hot water is needed to work with the vinegar or fabric softener to dissolve the glue. Spray on the wallpaper in a section that you can strip in a 15 minute period.
  • The paper will begin to sag or pull away from the wall if this method is working. If it doesn’t you may need to rent a commercial wallpaper steamer. This tool has a pad where steam is released. The steamer is held in place to allow the steam to penetrate the paper and soften the glue. Use a scraper to remove the wallpaper once it has loosened. If it is not coming off you might need to use the steamer for a longer period of time but also make sure that you are not damaging the wall by using too much steam. Make sure you wear gloves since the wallpaper and glue will be hot. If your wallpaper is very old or you have many layers to take off, this method will save you the most time.
  • Once the wallpaper is removed the last remaining glue should be washed off using a sponge and very hot water with a small amount of soap. When the remaining adhesive is removed, rinse the wall with clean water and use a towel to dry it. If the wall was damaged use spackling to repair it.

Removing wallpaper will give your house a whole new look.  It is a labor of love that gives you a sense of accomplishment when the project is finished!

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Cleaning, Household Equipment

Tips for produce storage

March 2nd, 2015

potatoes with eyes4This is the time of year we begin to get calls from folks that worked hard all summer raising vegetables. After harvest and a few months of storage, some crops begin to deteriorate. Potatoes grow eyes, onions sprout, and acorn squash turn orange.

If these problems are happening in your home, we have great information from Richard Jauron at the Hortline.

Sprouting potatoes can be caused by storing at temperatures above 50°F. Potatoes prefer storage in cooler temperatures; but not in the refrigerator. Storage in the refrigerator can begin to turn the potato starch into sugar. Also, storing potatoes near fruit can cause sprouting as potatoes are affected by the ethylene gas produced by ripe fruit.

Sprouting or rotting onions can also be caused by storage at temperatures above 50°F. If the bulbs are kept in a damp area or stored with poor air circulation they are prone to rotting. The main determining factor in storage life of onions is the variety or cultivar of onion that you plant. For best storage life, choose varieties such as Dopra, Stuttgarter, and Red Zeppelin. If these onions are harvested when the tops begin to fall over and are cured in a warm, dry well ventilated location they should keep well.

Yellowing of acorn squash is also due to improper storage conditions. They should be stored between 50°F and 55°F. Storage above these temperatures can also cause the flesh to become stringy.

Next year when you are harvesting your garden produce, you may want to refer to

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Food Preservation, Horticulture

Ways to Add More Fiber to your Diet

February 26th, 2015

Last time we talked about what fiber is and the health benefits of boosting fiber intake.  Now let’s see how you can increase it in your daily diet.

Here are some great tips for boosting your dietary fiber intake if you aren’t getting enough:

Include more:

  • Whole grain products
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans, peas and other legumes
  • Nuts and seeds

Breakfast of champions: For breakfast choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal – 5 or more grams of fiber per serving.  Read the label or opt for cereals with “whole grain,” “bran” or “fiber” in the name.  Or add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal.  Choose 100% whole grain breads for toast or bagels.

Granola as a gift resized

Switch to whole grains: Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains.  Look for breads that list whole wheat, whole wheat flour or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label.  Look for a brand with at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving.  Try including brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta and bulgur.

Bulk up your baked goods.  Substitute whole grain flour for half or all of the white flour when baking.  Whole-grain flour is heavier than white flour.  In yeast breads, use a bit more yeast or let the dough rise longer.  When using  When using baking powder, increase it by 1 teapoon for every 3 cups of whole-grain flour.  Try adding crushed bran cereal, unprocessed wheat bran or uncooked oatmeal to muffins, cakes and cookies.

Fiber Additions:  Add pre-cut fresh or frozen vegetables to soups and sauces.  For example, mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce or toss fresh baby carrots into stews.

 

Raw Kidney Beans final

Include Legumes:  Beans, peas, and lentils are excellent sources of fiber.  Add black beans to canned soup or a green salad.  Or make nachos with refried beans.

Eat fruit at every meal:  Apples, berries, oranges, pears, bananas are good sources of fiber.

Make snacks count:  Fresh fruits, raw vegetables, low-fat popcorn and whole-grain crackers are all good choices.  An occasional handful of nuts or dried fruits also is a healthy, high-fiber snack.

High fiber foods are good for your health.  But adding too much fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a period of a few weeks.  This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change.

Here are the USDA dietary guidelines on daily fiber intake for adults:

  Age 50 or younger Age 51 or older
Men 38 grams 30 grams
Women 25 grams 21 grams

Here is a list of the fiber content of specific foods from Mount Sinai Health System’s nutrition department.

Remember to drink plenty of water.  Fiber works best when it absorbs water, making your stool soft and bulky.

Low fiber foods include refined or processed foods – such as canned fruits and vegetables, pulp-free juices, white breads, pastas, and rice, and non-whole grain cereals.  The grain refining process removes the outer coat (bran) from the grain, which lowers its fiber content.  Similarly, removing the skin from fruits and vegetables decreases their fiber content.

Whole foods rather than fiber supplements are generally better.  Fiber supplements – such as Metamucil, Citrucel and FiberCon –don’t provide the variety of fibers, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial nutrients that foods do.

However, some people may still need a fiber supplement if dietary changes aren’t sufficient or if they have certain medical conditions, such as constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome.  Always check with your doctor if you feel you need to take fiber supplements.

Fiber is also added to some foods.  However, it’s not yet clear if added fiber provides the same health benefits as naturally occurring sources.

It’s easy to include more fiber in your daily diet and reap the health benefits with great tasting meals and snacks.

jill sig

Food Preparation, Nutrition, Uncategorized

Fiber in the Healthy Diet

February 23rd, 2015

Fiber and Health Benefits

You may have heard that you should eat more fiber or “roughage”.  But why is fiber so good for your health?

Dietary fiber – found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes – is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But foods containing fiber can provide other important health benefits as well.

Choosing tasty foods that provide fiber isn’t difficult.  Find out how much dietary fiber you need, the foods that contain it, and how to add them to meals and snacks.

imageDietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb.  Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates – which your body breaks down and absorbs – fiber isn’t digested by your body.  Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, colon and out of your body.

Fiber is typically classified as soluble (it dissolves in water) or insoluble (it doesn’t dissolve):

Soluble fiber: This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material.  It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.  Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.

Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Most plant-based foods, such as oatmeal and beans, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.  However, the amount of each type varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods.

BENEFITS OF A HIGH-FIBER DIET:

  • Lowers cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad”, cholesterol levels. Studies also have shown that fiber may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
  • Helps control blood sugar levels. In people with diabetes, fiber – particularly soluble fiber- can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Helps maintain bowel health. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.
  • Normalizes bowel movements. Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may also help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool.
  • Aids in achieving healthy weight. High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, which gives your body time to register when you’re no longer hungry, so you’re less likely to overeat. Also, a high-fiber diet tends to make a meal feel larger and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time. And high-fiber diets also tend to be less “energy dense,” which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
  • Possible prevention of colorectal cancer. More research needs to be done on this, but preliminary results are promising.

How much fiber do you need each day?  The Institute of Medicine, which provides science-based advice on matters of medicine and health, gives the following daily recommendations for adults:

  Age 50 or younger Age 51 or older
Men 38 grams 30 grams
Women 25 grams 21 grams

Stay tuned next time we’ll discuss ways to boost your daily fiber intake!

Until then, healthy eating!

jill sig

Food Preparation, Nutrition, Uncategorized