Spring Cleaning – Sanitizing Versus Washing

March 23rd, 2015

person cleaning counterWhen you are doing your cleaning do you ever wonder if you are getting something truly clean or just wiping the dirt off the surface? I think about it a lot because I often rush through the cleaning just to make the house look nice before someone comes over. For the second week of spring cleaning, I would like to bring back a blog topic I wrote in 2011 called “How Clean is it?  Sanitizing vs. Washing”.

As I mentioned before, often when I am cleaning I am motivated by having a nice looking house. What I should really be motivated by is having a home that has a safe level of germs. Having no germs in the house would make it sterile, and that is not a possibility, so I need to aim for a safe level of germs. The best way to do that is to wash and sanitize.

Washing is done best with hot soapy water. This removes all the visible dirt, food, hair, and other disgusting things around my home. When spring cleaning, most things can be washed – counters, cupboards, walls, floors, door knobs, light switches, railings, showers, and toilets. The bonus of washing is that when the surface grime is washed away, so are some of the germs.

Unfortunately, washing does not get rid of enough of the germs, so the next step is sanitizing. What you sanitize and how often you sanitize depends on your situation – check out this handout for suggestions. I usually sanitize high use surfaces (countertops, toilets) a couple of times a week, some surfaces (light switches, door knobs) monthly, and other surfaces (cupboards, walls) a couple of times a year. You can sanitize daily if you need to.

I sanitize two different ways. After the surface that I have washed has dried, I will either spray it with a bleach solution or wipe it off with disinfecting wipes. Then let the surface air dry or dry with a paper towel before using it. Both ways will get the amount of germs down to a safe level. Fewer germs leads to less sickness and less sickness leads to lower doctor bills.

To make your own bleach solution add ½ teaspoon regular bleach (or 1/8 teaspoon concentrated bleach) and 2 cups of water to a spray bottle.  Bleach solutions need to be dumped out and re-made about once per week.

Have fun with your spring cleaning,

Justine

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Spring Cleaning – Your Refrigerator

March 16th, 2015

cleaning refrigeratorAs the weather warms up in March, I like to open up the windows, let in some fresh air, and do some spring cleaning. Since I have two young children at home, my spring cleaning usually happens in fits and starts. To tell the truth, my goal is usually to have the spring cleaning done by early May because I can only find a free hour or two each week to devote to it. This week and next week I am going to bring back a couple of old blog topics to help with spring cleaning this year.

This week we are going to go back to a blog written in January of 2013, “How to Clean and Organize your Refrigerator”. My refrigerator desperately needs to be cleaned out, so I think it is going to be my first spring cleaning project. Having a clean refrigerator prevents food waste because you can easily see what you have on hand and what needs to be eaten up soon. Having a clean refrigerator also lowers your risk of food-borne illness because foods are more likely to stay at the appropriate temperature and less likely to spoil.

Here is a simple checklist to follow for cleaning your refrigerator. Here are a few things you can do quickly if you do not have the time for a full refrigerator cleaning:

  • Make sure your refrigerator temperature is 40°F or slightly below and your freezer is 0°F or below. Higher temperatures mean faster food spoilage.
  • Air circulates constantly in a refrigerator and foods dry out quickly. Everything needs to be wrapped in foil, plastic, or put in airtight containers. Moisture- and vapor-proof materials are best.
  • Perishables like dairy, eggs, and meat should be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator (not the door). Fresh meat should be in a drawer or in a container on a bottom shelf so any juices that leak do not drip on other foods.
  • Identify a spot for leftovers and label them. Make a plan to use them. If you know you will not use them within four days, freeze them or throw them away.
  • Wipe up spills in the refrigerator when they happen to prevent bacteria (germs) and odors from developing. Use hot soapy water to clean up any spill and rinse with clean water.

Good luck with your spring cleaning,

Justine

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‘Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle’ during National Nutrition Month®

March 9th, 2015

vegetables heart mixedIf you planned to start eating better at the start of 2015 but have gotten a bit off track, National Nutrition Month® is a good time to refocus. National Nutrition Month® is celebrated each March to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The theme for 2015 is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” Here are 5 tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help you do just that:

  1. Eat Breakfast-There’s no better way to start your morning than with a healthy breakfast. Include lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Try our Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos to get you going in the morning!
  2. Fix Healthy Snacks- Healthy snacks help sustain your energy levels between meals and prevent overeating at mealtime. Make your snacks combination snacks by choosing from two or more of the MyPlate food groups.
  3. Get Cooking-Cooking at home is usually healthier because you get to decide how much fat, salt, and sugar to add to your foods. Check out our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. How to Channel to view a variety of cooking videos.
  4. Explore New Foods and Flavors- When shopping, set a goal to select a fruit, vegetable, or whole grain that’s new to you or your family. Visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org to learn about a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  5. Eat Meals Together- Research shows that family meals promote healthier eating. Plan to eat as a family at least a few times each week. Turn off the TV, phones or other electronic devices to encourage talking at mealtimes. Use our Mealtime Conversation Cards to get the conversation going!

For more tips on how to ‘Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle’ visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Jodi Signature

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Blackened Tuna Patties

March 2nd, 2015

blackened-tuna-pattiesThere are some weeks when I get to shopping day and I realize that it is not going to happen. Maybe someone is sick, maybe we are snowed in, or maybe I am just too tired. The reason does not matter because the result is the same – I have to make lunch for my two children and I plus supper for all four of us with what is left in the pantry and the refrigerator.

On days like these I depend on recipes like our blackened tuna patties because they are made with ingredients that I keep stocked in my pantry and refrigerator. These staples are always available in my kitchen – tuna, salad dressing, garlic powder, eggs, and bread crumbs. Having the fresh vegetables may be tricky, but I usually come up with something. Once I used some leftover shredded cabbage and it worked great.

To make the tuna patties stir the ingredients together, shape them into four patties, and cook in a skillet heated to medium for about three minutes on each side. My children like to eat these plain with fruit and veggies on the side, my husband likes them as a sandwich, and I prefer them with a salad or coleslaw. Please try out this recipe and enjoy!

Blackened Tuna Patties

Serving Size: 1 patty
Serves: 4
Cost Per Serving: $0.51
Ingredients: 
  • 1 can (5 ounces) tuna, packed in water (drained)
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup shredded or diced vegetables (like carrots, celery, peppers, or zucchini)
  • 2 tablespoons light salad dressing (like ranch)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
  • Nonstick cooking spray
Instructions:
  1. Stir tuna, onion, vegetables, dressing, and garlic powder in a bowl. Mix in the beaten egg.
  2. Stir the bread crumbs into the mixture. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Wash hands. Form the mixture into 4 patties. Each patty should be about 1/3 inch thick and 3 inches wide. Wash hands.
  4. Heat a skillet to medium. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray when it is hot. Cook the patties for 2-3 minutes. Turn patties over and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Cook until patties are browned and 145 degrees Fahrenheit inside.*
* Testing Meat
To test thin items—such as hamburger or fish patties, steaks, chops or chicken breast – Insert an instant read thermometer from the side so 2 to 3 inches of the stem is in the center of the food and away from fat or bone.
Justine

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Sodium and Children

February 23rd, 2015

heartConcerns about sodium and its link to high blood pressure and heart disease are most commonly found among people who are middle age and older. However, according to the CDC, about 90% of US children ages 6-18 eat too much sodium daily and 1 in 6 children has high blood pressure (source).

When we think about the foods that kids tend to be most fond of this all makes sense. Pizza, cheese and chicken nuggets often include a great deal of sodium. So what can we do? Here are some tips that will help reduce the amount of sodium everyone in your family eats:

  1. Cook at home as much as possible. Visit the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipe site for great home cooking ideas. Restaurant dishes are typically very high in sodium and in most restaurants you can’t see the nutrition information when you order. Many restaurants do have nutrition information on their websites, so you can compare dishes before you go.
  2. When cooking at home, try different spices and herbs instead of salt.
  3. Check the Nutrition Facts labels when you buy foods at the grocery store. Choose brands and types with lower sodium. Many will even be marked ‘low sodium’ or ‘no salt added’.
  4. Eat more foods that are naturally low in sodium like fruits and vegetables.
  5. Model healthy eating for your family. If you choose healthy foods and tell your children why you make those choices, it is likely they will follow your lead in time.

If you are interested in more detailed information about sodium in children’s diets, the CDC has a helpful website. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/children-sodium/.

s Signature-1

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The Salty Six: Part II

February 16th, 2015

saltEating too much sodium can cause health problems, including high blood pressure and heart disease. Most of us consume around 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily—more than double the 1500 milligrams recommended by the American Heart Association and well above the 2,300 milligrams the CDC recommends for the general population. More than 75% of our sodium comes from processed and restaurant foods. Putting down the salt shaker isn’t enough. Be sure to check the Nutrition Facts label on packages—keep the sodium content below 5% whenever possible. Or, even better, cook more meals at home and be careful about the Salty Six:

1. Breads and Rolls: Most bread will have 100 to 200 milligrams of sodium per slice. If you are eating a sandwich, those numbers can add up quickly. Find whole-grain bread that has less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving (usually only 1 slice). Consider switching to whole-grain pita pockets, English muffins or bagel thins, all of which have fewer than 150 milligrams per serving.

2. Cold Cuts and Cured Meats: Just six thin slices of deli meat can add up to half a day’s worth of sodium intake. Ham is especially high in sodium. If you are fond of lunch meats, choose a reduced-sodium variety and eat a small amount. Add veggies to your sandwich to bulk it up.

3. Pizza: Pizza brings together a melting pot of high sodium ingredients: cheese, pepperoni, sausage, tomato sauce and crust. Ask for light cheese and opt for veggie toppings instead of meat. Enjoy 2 small slices, and fill out the meal with salad or steamed vegetables.

4. Poultry: This one can be sneaky! What looks like a natural fresh or frozen piece of chicken could actually be injected with broth or sodium solution preservatives that boost sodium content up to 200 milligrams per serving. Read the label to find a product with low sodium levels. When purchasing chicken, avoid prepared or processed products, which are packed with seasonings and sodium and are often fried. Consider choosing fresh fish once per week to bake or grill as a lower-sodium alternative.

5. Canned Soup or Packaged Soup Mixes: Many prepared soups are a hidden bunker of salt. You can easily blow an entire day’s worth of your allotted sodium intake just by eating a single serving which may contain 600 to 1,000 milligrams per serving (usually only 1 cup). Choose a lower-sodium variety or make your own at home using recipes from Spend Smart. Eat smart.

6. Sandwiches: Burgers and sandwiches are another hidden trove of salt, particularly if the meal comes from a restaurant. It’s extremely difficult to follow a low-sodium diet if you dine out, particularly if you eat at fast food spots where a single sandwich can contain a day’s worth of sodium. Request the burger grilled not fried, without cheese and with condiments on the side (BBQ sauce and ketchup, in particular add sugar and sodium). A better way to go is to share a sandwich and order a fresh side, such as a salad, fruit or low fat yogurt.

 

Terry Meek
Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Coordinator
Iowa Department of Public Health

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The Salty Six

February 9th, 2015

February is often associated with valentines, sweets and all things lovey dovey. It’s also Heart Month which makes it a great time to think about your own heart health and the health of those you love. For the next three weeks, we will be blogging about sodium, its role in heart health and how you can protect yourself and those you love.

Your body needs sodium to work properly, but too much is bad for your health. It can raise your blood pressure and your risk for heart disease and stroke. People often think of putting down the salt shaker when they are trying to reduce their sodium, but in fact most of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods and dishes from restaurants.

This week we are proud to share the American Heart Association’s campaign called “The Salty Six”. This infographic highlights some of the common foods where large amounts of sodium hide. Next week we’ll hear from an expert on heart disease and stroke and her recommendations for eating well while reducing sodium.

the salty six

Until next week!

s Signature-1

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Shredded Pork Sandwich

February 2nd, 2015

pulled-pork-sandwichShredded pork sandwich is an easy meal for a busy day. This is the type of meal that I like to have on my menu each week because some nights I am too worn out to put much energy into a meal. All you need to do is:

  • Pull your leftover cooked pork from our January recipe out of the freezer,
  • Thaw it in the microwave,
  • Make coleslaw to top the sandwiches while the pork is thawing,
  • Put your sandwiches together, and
  • Serve with some fruit and a glass of milk for a complete meal.

Since that recipe was so easy, I would like to take a moment of your time and talk about something a little more difficult – menu planning. I plan a menu each week based on the food that I already have on hand. This saves me money at the grocery store because I only buy what I need. I like to keep my menu flexible by listing seven supper meals (I go shopping once per week).  Instead of assigning one meal to each day, I let the way each day is going dictate which meal I choose. For example, if I am having one of those days when I am feeling too worn out to cook, I choose an easy recipe like shredded pork sandwiches. If you would like more information on menu planning, the SpendSmart.EatSmart website has a great section on menu planning.

I hope you enjoy this shredded pork sandwich recipe!

-Justine

Shredded Pork Sandwich

Serving Size: 1 sandwich
Serves: 4
Cost Per Serving: $1.72
Ingredients: 
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/3 cup light mayo
  • 3 tablespoons cider or white vinegar
  • 1 package (16 ounces) shredded cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded pork (from pork chili featured in January recipe)
  • 4 whole wheat buns
  • 4 tablespoons barbeque sauce
Instructions: 
Make the coleslaw
  1. Mix sugar, salt, mustard, and mayo together in a large bowl. Add vinegar and stir with a wire whisk or fork.
  2. Add the shredded cabbage to the bowl. Stir until ingredients are mixed well. You will use half the coleslaw for the sandwiches. You can use the other half as a side or with another meal.

Make the sandwiches

  1. Thaw shredded pork from the pork chili recipe, if it is frozen. Reheat in the microwave for 2 minutes. Stop and stir. Reheat for 1 more minute. The temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Layer ½ cup shredded pork on bottom of 1 whole wheat bun. Put 1 tablespoon barbeque sauce on shredded pork. Put ½ cup coleslaw on barbeque sauce. Put top of 1 whole wheat bun on coleslaw.
Tips: 
• Look for coleslaw that is labeled ready to eat or triple washed.
• Coleslaw will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator if it is covered.
• This is a very quick meal because the pork is already prepared.

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Not all Fats are Created Equal

January 26th, 2015

When it comes to eating healthy and weight loss, people tend to get confused about what kind and how much fat they should be eating. Fat is necessary for good health, however, some types of fat are healthier choices than others. Fats supply calories for energy, help protect organs and keep your body warm. They also help in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K. If you’re confused about fats in foods and which ones to eat, use the information below to learn which fats are in and which ones are out.

 

January Blog Fats Chart

 

food label tans fatHere are some suggestions for ways to include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in your diet and limit saturated and trans fat:

  1. Use olive oil to sauté vegetables instead of butter.
  2. Use vegetable or canola oil when baking.
  3. Use oil-based salad dressings in place of cream-based dressings.
  4. Eat fish, such as salmon, a couple of times per week. Try our Crispy Salmon Patties or Salmon Wraps.
  5. Use the Nutrition Facts Label. It’s best to avoid foods that contain trans fat.

Jodi Signature

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Whose Plate? MyPlate!

January 19th, 2015

myplate_greenWith a New Year just under way, many people are focused on losing weight. Unfortunately, some of the diets people follow to lose weight are not healthy. People tend to cut out foods or food groups, go on restrictive diets or spend money on unnecessary supplements and drinks. At a recent health and wellness fair I spoke at, one participant mentioned to me that she “just wanted someone to tell her what to eat”. I can totally understand where she was coming from! It seems like every day we hear about a new fad diet or food that we thought was healthy that someone says is not. It can get very confusing.

I told her to ‘model your plate after The MyPlate icon and recommendations given on www.choosemyplate.gov are healthy, sensible, and easy to remember’. MyPlate is based on a 10-inch plate so be sure to check your plate size. Forget about the fads and miracle diets, follow these simple ideas and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy plate.

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Choose from fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables. Include more red, orange, and dark-green vegetables such as broccoli, leafy greens, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes in your meals.
  • Make at least half your grains whole. One-quarter of your plate should be grains. Choose 100% whole grain cereals, bread, crackers, rice, and pasta. You might also try quinoa, barley, or bulgur.
  • Vary your protein food choices. One-quarter of your plate should be lean protein such as beans and peas, seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, and nuts. Visit our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website for main dish recipes using a variety of protein sources.
  • Switch to skim or 1% milk. In addition to low-fat milk, drink more water and unsweetened beverages. If drinking juice, choose 100% fruit juice.

When people commit to losing weight or eating healthy, they tend to focus on what they ‘shouldn’t’ eat. Instead, focus on what you should eat for good health. Go to www.choosemyplate.gov to find out how many servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and low-fat dairy you need.

When it comes to eating healthy and weight loss, people tend to get confused about what kind and how much fat they should be eating. Fat is necessary for good health, however, some types of fat are healthier choices than others. Read the blog next week to learn about the different types of fat and the foods they are in.

Jodi Signature

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