What’s in Your Kitchen

November 19th, 2014

in the kitchen homeA 2013 study identified the six germiest items in the kitchen. These items were found to have pathogens (disease-causing agents) on them that can cause someone, especially children, pregnant women, and older adults, to become ill. Risk of illness can be lowered by using the cleaning tips below.

 

Kitchen Item Pathogen Found How to Decrease Pathogens
Can opener salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold Handheld: Wash in hot soapy water, rinse, and air dry after each use.
Electric: Using a clean cloth, wash the cutter, feed gear, and magnet with hot soapy water. Rinse with a wet, clean cloth.
Vegetable drawer of refrigerator salmonella, listeria, yeast, and mold Wash in hot soapy water, rinse and air dry after each use.
Blender salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold Dishwasher Safe: Wash blender in the dishwasher.
Not Dishwasher Safe: Wash in hot soapy water, rinse, and dry before reassembling.
Rubber spatula E. coli, yeast, and mold Wash in hot soapy water, paying special attention to the area where the handle joins the spatula.
Refrigerator meat compartment salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold Use a clean cloth and wash the bin with a mild detergent mixed with warm water. Thoroughly rinse with warm, clean water and dry.
Food storage container with rubber seal salmonella, yeast, and mold Wash in hot soapy water, paying special attention to any grooves where the cover attaches to the container. Then rinse and dry.
General Safe Food Practices:
• Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 10–15 seconds.
• Avoid cross-contamination by storing ready-to-eat foods on top of uncooked foods, such as meat, to avoid raw juices dripping on other foods.

http://www.nsf.org/newsroom_pdf/2013_germ_study_FOR-WEB-ONLY.pdf

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Tzatziki with Pita Chips

November 12th, 2014

Tzatziki:

(make a day before serving)
Ingredientstzatziki

  • 1 unpeeled cucumber, washed and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, peeled and minced (about 1–2 cloves)
  • 2 containers (6 ounces each) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill and/or fresh mint
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  1. Use a spoon to scrape out cucumber seeds. Dice the cucumber into small pieces or shred using a grater.
  2. Spread cucumber on top of a paper towel. Roll up the towel and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Transfer cucumber to a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Cover and refrigerate until served.

Pita Chips:

Ingredients

  • 6 whole wheat pita pockets (6” each)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 teaspoon spice (e.g., dried rosemary, basil, cumin, cayenne pepper)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400oF.
  2. Spray the pita with oil, cut in 8 wedges, and sprinkle with seasoning.
  3. Toast chips 4–5 minutes, then turn and toast 1–2 minutes more. (Watch carefully at the end because they can quickly turn brown.)

Recipe from SpendSmart EatSmart. Find more recipes at www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings.

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Recycling Food Waste? Waste Not, Want Not?

November 5th, 2014

woman helping man at  food pantrySupermarkets throw out $47 billion worth of food each year. Much of this food is still safe to eat. The idea is to offer food to people at low prices and reduce the amount of food wasted. This has led to new businesses opening around the United States that provide groceries at a discounted price. These food items are safe to eat,but one of the following applies:

  • They are past their sell-by date (end of store “shelf life” but still safe to eat).
  • They are close to their use-by date (found on shelf-stable products; indicatesabsolute best quality when unopened).
  • They have minor imperfections (e.g., slightly bruised produce, slightlydented cans).
  • They are from overstocks.

Why is repurposing of these foods gaining popularity? Foods that are past their sell-by date or close to their use-by date can still be safe to eat and therefore can be used to combat hunger. Currently, 1 in 8 or 11.9% of Iowans are foodinsecure, meaning that at some time during the year they lacked access to safe and nutritious food. This leads to lower intakes of nutrient-rich foods, more health problems, and loss of independence. People who are food insecure do not receivethe nutrients needed to remain healthy and active. Not having access to safe and nutritious foods in midlife and older adulthood can make completing daily tasks (e.g., cleaning, bathing, etc.) more challenging. In addition, getting a foodborne illness can have long term health consequences. In children, a lack of propernutrition is associated with increased behavior problems, school absenteeism, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue.

The Iowa organization Table to Table is working to reduce food waste and foodinsecurity. Table to Tablecollects edible food fromdonors and distributes thesefood items to those in needthrough agencies that serve the hungry, homeless, and at-risk populations. Since 1996,Table to Table has rescuedabout 12 million pounds offood from grocery stores,restaurants, schools, andother food operations. To learnmore about Table to Table, visit www.table2table.org/.

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A 10-Minute Run Does Your Heart Good

October 22nd, 2014

man and woman running outside fitnessYou don’t have to be a marathoner to reap the health benefits of running. A recent Iowa State University study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that running for just 5 or 10 minutes a day can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Researchers followed more than 55,000 adults for 15 years to measure the benefits of running, according to DC (Duck-chul) Lee, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University. Lee stated “runners were 45 percent less likely to die from heart disease or stroke than non-runners, regardless of their running distance, duration or speed.”

“Most people say they don’t have time to exercise…but I think most everyone can find 5 to 10 minutes per day to run for the health benefits,” Lee said. For more about the study, watch the video at www.news.iastate.edu/news/2014/07/28/runningmortality.

Looking for other quick ways to get fit? Check out ISU Extension’s “Quick Fit,” a program of exercises you can complete in only 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week: store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/EDC247.

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What’s in Your Lunch Box?

October 15th, 2014

packed lunch sandwich healthyWhen making a bag or box lunch for yourself or your child, don’t forget to play it safe! Food that travels from one place to another is likely to stay outside of the refrigerator for more time than the food you serve at home. Therefore, the bacteria that cause foodborne illness have a better chance of growing rapidly in a bag lunch.

Use the Right Container

Gone are the days of a “brown bag” lunch. Choose insulated lunch bags and boxes to keep cold food cold. The lunch container should have enough space so that you can always fit in a reusable freezer pack or a plastic bottle filled with ice. Make sure the bag or box can easily be washed daily with hot soap and water. A dishwasher-safe lunchbox or a bag that can be laundered is ideal. Wash lunch boxes and other lunch containers soon after coming home.

Wash, Wash, Wash!

Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water before preparing any food for the lunchbox. Make sure that any utensil that comes in contact with the food has been thoroughly washed and sanitized. When eating away from home, many people forget to wash hands before eating. This allows germs the perfect chance to transfer to a sandwich or apple. Make it easy for you and your child to eat with clean hands by including hand sanitizer or wipes in the lunch bag.

For more ideas on protecting your family’s health when packing lunches, use the handout titled What’s for Lunch? It’s in the Bag! available at store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/PM3026.

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No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

October 8th, 2014

NoKneadWholeWheatBread_SmallSandwiches are a packed lunch staple. Homemade bread makes a sandwich special. Try this easy-to-make, tasty, bread recipe. Serves 16

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups nonfat milk, lukewarm (100–110°F)
  • 1/4 cup orange or
  • apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose white flour

Instructions

  1. Grease sides of an 8.5” x 4.5” loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine milk, juice, and honey
  3. in a bowl.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients. Beat vigorously for 3 minutes. Dough will be thick. Scoop the dough into the pan. Cover pan with clean towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 45–75 minutes, until almost double
  5. in size.
  6. When dough is almost doubled, preheat oven to 350°F.
  7. Remove towel. Bake bread for about 30 minutes. Dough will pull away from sides of pan when bread is done. Cool 30 minutes before slicing.

Nutrition information per slice: 110 calories; 0 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber; 150 mg sodium

From Spend Smart Eat Smart at www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/.

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Healthier Snacks Sold in Schools

October 1st, 2014

If you have a child in school, you may have already heard about the new “Smart Snack” guidelines going into effect this year in Iowa schools that participate in the federal school lunch program. The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids’ Act updated the nutrition standards for snacks and beverages sold in school vending machines, via a la carte sales in the cafeteria, and at school stores and some fundraisers.

The new “Smart Snack” guidelines are intended to limit the availability of high-energy, low-nutrition foods like sugary beverages, candy, chips, and snack cakes.
The guidelines require snacks to:

  • Be a whole grain, fruit, vegetable, dairy product, and/or protein food;
  • Provide at least 10% of the daily value of potassium, calcium, fiber, or vitamin D;
  • Contain no more than 200 calories and 230 mg sodium;
  • Provide no more than 35% of its calories as fat and no more than 10% as saturated fat (exceptions: nutrient-rich snacks such as nuts, seeds, and low-fat cheese); and
  • Be no more than 35% sugar by weight.

The below table shows the difference in snacks allowed before and after the “Smart Snack” guidelines.

Snack Chart
School Snacks FAQs

Will I break the law if I put a double-fudge brownie in my child’s or grandchild’s lunch? Although it is important that both schools and caregivers promote healthy eating for the well-being of children, the standards do not apply to packed lunches.

Will cupcakes be forbidden at classroom parties? Nope. These rules govern only food sold to children in school, not food that is given to them free.

How can I find out more about the new Smart Snacks standards? For more information on the USDA Smart Snacks standards, visit www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/smart-snacks-school.

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Ice Cold Facts

September 24th, 2014

ice cubesJust because ice is cold does not mean it is protected against certain viruses and bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Therefore, ice should be handled like any other food.

When planning your tailgating activities this football season, ice will play an important part in keeping your food safe for you, your family, and your friends. Protect yourself, family, and friends by following these “Ice Cold Food Safety Tips:”

• Avoid touching ice with dirty hands or glasses.
• Use clean, nonbreakable utensils to handle ice (i.e., tongs, scoop).
• Store your ice in a clean container. If you are using an ice chest/cooler, be sure to wash it with hot soapy water and let it air dry before using it.
• Keep the ice you want to use in your drinks in a separate cooler from the ice that you are using to keep your foods cold.
• Use ice bags that are sealed shut rather than drawstring bags. By keeping your ice bag closed, you are also preventing your ice from getting contaminated.

For more information about food safety, visit the Food Safety website at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/food-safety-families.

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Get Moving at Work

September 17th, 2014

man as desk exercise ballMost Iowans (about 82%) are not meeting the recommended levels of physical activity of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity weekly. You do not have to attend an exercise class to get your physical activity. Physical activity is the movement of the body that uses energy and may include activities you perform every day like climbing stairs, walking to and from your car, walking the dog, etc.

“Desk jobs” may be contributing to our low levels of physical activity. Making small changes to incorporate physical activity into your workday could add up and help you reach the recommended daily physical activity goal. Try incorporating these physical activity-boosting strategies into your workday.

• Walk to work if possible or park away from the main entrance or use an entrance that is further away from your office. By doing so, you’ll be able to get more steps in daily, helping you reach the recommended 10,000 steps daily, which is about five miles.

• Plan short fitness breaks (3–5 minutes) every hour. This will give you 24–40 minutes of physical activity by the end of your workday. Try these short fitness break ideas:

o Walk up and down the stairs or hallway.
o Take a short walk on your lunch break.
o Do some chair squats, jumping jacks or jog-in-place in your office.
o See if your employer offers a worksite wellness program.

 

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Chicken Fajitas

September 10th, 2014

chicken fajitas meals dinnerMexican-inspired dishes are a great way to combine foods from many of the food groups. This recipe includes foods from the grain, dairy, protein, and vegetable groups! Serves 6

Ingredients:
• 1 pound boneless, skinless
chicken breast*
• 2 teaspoons chili powder
• 2 teaspoons garlic powder
• 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
• 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
• 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
• 6 whole-wheat tortillas, 8-inch
(or corn tortillas)

Optional Toppings:
• 6 ounces low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
• 1 cup chopped tomato
• Cilantro, chopped
• Jalapeno, sliced

Directions:
1. Freeze chicken 30 minutes until firm and easier to cut. Cut chicken into 1/4-inch strips. Place in a single layer on a plate. Sprinkle both sides of strips with chili and garlic powder.
2. Add oil to a 12-inch skillet. Heat to medium high. Add chicken strips. Cook about 3–5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add bell peppers and onion. Stir and cook until vegetables are tender and chicken is no longer pink. (Heat chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.)
4. Scoop chicken mixture (2/3 cup each) onto tortillas. Top with your favorite toppings.
5. Serve flat or rolled.

*Can replace chicken with 1 can (15 ounces) black beans (drained, rinsed), beef, or pork.
Nutrition Information per Serving: 290 calories, 9g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 50mg cholesterol, 270mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 4g sugars, 21g protein.

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