Home Food Safety Mythbusters

May 20th, 2015

washing lettuceMyth: “It is OK to wash bagged greens if I want to. There’s no harm!”

Fact: Rinsing leafy greens that are ready to eat (those labeled “washed,” “triple washed,” or “ready to eat”) will not enhance safety and could actually increase the potential for cross-contamination. This means harmful bacteria from your hands or kitchen surfaces could find their way onto the greens while washing them.

Myth: “I don’t need to rinse this melon for safety. The part I eat is on the inside!”

Fact: A knife or peeler passing through the rind can carry harmful bacteria from the outside into the flesh of the melon. The rind also touches edible portions when cut fruit is arranged or stacked for serving and garnish. Rinse melons under running tap water while rubbing with your hands or scrubbing with a clean brush. Dry the melon with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Myth: “Be sure to rinse or wash raw chicken, turkey, or other poultry before cooking it!”

Fact: Rinsing poultry is an unsafe practice because contaminated water may splash and spread bacteria to other foods and kitchen surfaces.

Myth: “Cross-contamination doesn’t happen in the refrigerator…it’s too cold in there for germs to survive!”

Fact: Some harmful bacteria can survive and even grow in cool, moist environments. Keep fresh produce separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. For tips on how to clean and disinfect your refrigerator, go to http://bit.ly/1DeqVeO.

Sources: http://bit.ly/1FQlpQp

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Fruit Smoothies

May 13th, 2015

Serving Size: 1 cup  | Serves: 3Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients
2–3 cups of fresh or frozen fruit
1 (6–8 ounce) carton vanilla, plain, or fruit-flavored yogurt
1/4 cup milk
3 ice cubes

Instructions
1. Wash hands.
2. Put all ingredients in a blender.
3. Blend on high speed until smooth.
4. Pour into glasses.

Nutrition information per serving: 150 calories, 1.7g total fat, 0.9g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5.5mg cholesterol, 61.3mg sodium, 31.5g total carbohydrate, 2.8g fiber, 22.6g sugar, 4.9g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart Eat Smart website (www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings).

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A Look at Energy Drinks: Paying the Price for Caffeine?

May 6th, 2015

energy drinkEnergy drinks (e.g., Red Bull®, Monster®, Rockstar®, and Full Throttle®) are among the fastest growing beverages in the United States, with half of these highly caffeinated drinks being sold to youth. The caffeine content of an 8-ounce serving can range between 72 and 150 mg. However, most energy drinks come in cans or bottles with 2–3 servings, amounting to 450 mg of caffeine (general recommended intake is no more than 200–300 mg caffeine daily for adults)! There are no guidelines established in the United States for youth regarding caffeine consumption. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration limits caffeine content in soft drinks because they are categorized as “food,” caffeine in energy drinks is not “monitored” because they can be categorized as “dietary supplements.”

Energy drinks are promoted as a means to increase energy levels; however, there is little evidence to support this. With the large quantity of caffeine comes serious nutritional consequences. Large quantities of caffeine can hinder how well the body is able to absorb and use calcium, which can impact bone health. Additionally, high caffeine intake is associated with increased irritability, anxiety, tremors, heart rate, blood pressure, and sleep problems.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has expressed concerns for youth because of caffeine’s effect on their developing neurological and cardiovascular systems, as well as the risk of physical dependence and addiction. Many of the “specialty” ingredients (e.g., guarana, taurana) found in energy drinks are also ingredients in over-the-counter diet drugs. This raises significant health concerns because it is unclear what combined health impact these ingredients may have.

Because of the potentially high caffeine content, it is recommended youth avoid energy drinks and healthy adults should limit their use. Teach youth to ask for and enjoy water as the thirst quencher of choice.

For more ideas on better or healthier beverage choices, please look at the MyPlate Better Beverage Choices Handout available at
www.choosemyplate.gov in English http://1.usa.gov/1k0nH4D and Spanish http://1.usa.gov/1IIhb0V.

Sources: http://bit.ly/1aOlBF1, http://bit.ly/1xYGmSp, http://bit.ly/1IIh05J, and http://1.usa.gov/Pog5yZ

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The Garden: Mother Nature’s Gym

April 22nd, 2015

Boost your activity level, burn some extra calories and lower stress by gardening. Gardening activities are great ways to boost physical activity. Experts recommend a minimum of 2 1/2 hours of physical activity per week.

activity chart WOW

Reference: William D McArdle, Frank Katch, Victor L. Katch, Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) (2001); taken from eXtension.org

Don’t have a garden yourself? Offer to help a neighbor or volunteer in a community garden. Go dig in the dirt and enjoy the healthful benefits of gardening!

To learn more about gardening, contact your local county ISU Extension and Outreach office or visit the online ISU Extension store at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/ to check out these and other gardening publications:

PM 870B—Container Vegetable Gardening
PM 819—Planting a Home Vegetable Garden
PM 534—Planting and Harvesting Times for Garden Vegetables

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Are You Cooking Food Safely?

April 15th, 2015

man microwave foodDo you reach for a quick microwave meal when you’re hungry? Do you read and follow the cooking instructions on the package?

Not following package cooking instructions can result in undercooked food, which can lead to foodborne illness. Follow these steps to keep food safe:

Read and follow cooking directions on packaged and convenience foods.
Not following package instructions can lead to undercooked foods, which means the temperature may not be high enough to kill harmful bacteria.

Know when to use a microwave or conventional oven.
Cooking instructions are calibrated for a specific type of appliance and may not be applicable to all appliances.

Know your microwave wattage before microwaving food.
The higher the microwave wattage, the quicker the food cooks. Compare your own microwave wattage (found on the inside of the microwave door or in the owner’s manual) with that mentioned in the cooking instructions.

Always use a food thermometer to ensure a safe internal temperature.
Take the temperature of the food after cooking to be sure it is fully cooked.

Source: http://www.fightbac.org/cookitsafe

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Make-ahead Breakfast Burritos

April 8th, 2015

breakfast-burritosServing Size: 1 burrito | Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1 cup diced potatoes (1 medium potato)
1/2 cup diced onions (1/2 medium onion)
1 cup diced bell peppers (1 medium pepper)
8 beaten eggs
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded 2% reduced-fat cheddar cheese
8 flour tortillas (8 inch)

Instructions:
1. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Cook the potatoes for 6 to 10 minutes over medium heat.
2. Add onions and peppers to the potatoes. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the potatoes are browned.
3. Add beaten eggs to the vegetable mixture. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir off and on until there is no liquid.
4. Stir in the garlic powder and pepper.
5. Make each burrito by placing 2 tablespoons of cheese and 1/2 cup of the egg mixture on the tortilla and rolling up. Serve or freeze.

Nutrition information per serving: 270 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 31 g carbohydrates, 14 g protein, 190 mg cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more recipes, information, and videos, visit http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/.

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Reconsidering the Egg

April 1st, 2015

dv1897034Experts have warned against diets high in cholesterol for years and have suggested, for example, limiting egg yolk intake. The previous Dietary Guidelines for Americans* stated that Americans eat too much cholesterol and that high-cholesterol foods like eggs should be limited. Preliminary reports, however, indicate that the 2015 guidelines may no longer consider cholesterol as a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.

New research suggests that dietary cholesterol intake may not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels or increase the risk of heart disease in healthy adults. Saturated fat and trans fat in the diet are of greater concern for keeping blood cholesterol levels down than the actual cholesterol content of food. However, it is still recommended that we consume limited amounts of foods high in saturated fat or trans fat (e.g., butter, margarine, fats in meat, and high-fat dairy).

Eggs are an inexpensive protein food that is relatively low in total fat and saturated fat and rich in vitamins and minerals. Therefore, eggs can be part of a healthy diet. It is still recommended to eat them in moderation and prepare them with low-fat cooking methods like boiling or poaching.

*The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. They provide dietary and physical activity recommendations for Americans ages two years and over to reduce risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.

Sources: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015.asp; http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines/

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What’s Hot—Bikram Yoga

March 25th, 2015

woman yogaYoga is a good way to be physically active because it promotes increased flexibility, muscle strength, and tone, as well as improved respiration, energy, and vitality. Yoga can also help with weight reduction and circulatory health. There are more than 20 different types of yoga! One variation gaining in popularity is Bikram yoga, often referred to as “hot yoga” because this style specializes in using a heated environment.

Bikram yoga is 90 minutes long and consists of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises, and takes place in a room 104 degrees with 40% humidity. The caution with hot yoga is the room temperature and the potential health risks it poses. Hot yoga may increase the risk of heat exhaustion if your body is no longer able to regulate its usual temperature. Heat exhaustion can lead to heavy sweating, dehydration, decreased blood pressure, and increased heart rate. These effects on your body may make you feel weak, dizzy, or nauseated.

Before starting hot yoga, or any physical activity program, it’s always a good idea to consult your health care provider to make sure it is safe for you to do so, especially if you are pregnant or have a serious health condition. For more information, visit http://www.berkeleywellness.com/fitness/injury-prevention/exercise/article/hot-yoga-scary-or-good-you.

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Keeping it clean—To wash your hands or to use hand sanitizer?

March 18th, 2015

washing hands soap waterWhenever possible, it’s best to wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice) and rinse thoroughly. Hand sanitizing gel (at least 60% alcohol), foam, or wipes can be used for quick sanitation, but these products are not designed to replace hand washing because sanitizers do not adequately remove all bacteria, dirt, and debris. When hands are dirty, hand sanitizers are not effective.

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Chicken Alfredo Pasta

March 11th, 2015

Serving Size: 1 1/3 cups | Serves 6chicken alfredo pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat penne or rotini pasta
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Add the frozen broccoli the last three minutes of cooking. Drain the water from the pasta and broccoli. Return food to the pot.
  2. Remove fat from chicken on a cutting board and cut meat into bite-sized pieces. Wash hands.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add chicken cubes to skillet and stir to coat with oil. Cook the chicken until it is done (165oF, about 7–9 minutes).
  4. Remove chicken from skillet when it is done cooking and cover to keep warm.
  5. Add the milk and cream cheese to the skillet. Stir the mixture constantly over low heat. The mixture will thicken and be smooth.
  6. Add the garlic powder, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir mixture. Then add cooked chicken and heat mixture.
  7. Combine meat mixture with the pasta and broccoli mixture. Serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories, 12 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 390 mg sodium, 29 g total carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 30 g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more recipes, information, and videos, visit http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/.

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