Vegetable Safety Tips

Vegetables are part of a healthy diet. However, they can also be a source of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Use these food safety tips to protect yourself and your family.

Washing carrots in sink
  1. Always wash hands with soap and water before you start to prepare vegetables.
  2. Use clean equipment, including cutting board and knives.
  3. Wash all produce even if the skin will be peeled. If a produce item is labeled ready to eat, washing is not recommended and could increase risk of illness.
  4. Wash produce under running water. A scrub brush can help in cleaning produce. Soap and vegetable rinses are not necessary. If soaking is required to loosen dirt, make sure to finish by rinsing under cool or warm running water.
  5. Store any washed produce in the refrigerator.

Source: Fresh Vegetable Guide, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/12599

Scrambled Egg Muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffn | Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetables (washed and diced)
  • (broccoli, red or green peppers, onion) • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  2. Add chopped vegetables to muffin tin.
  3. Beat eggs in a bowl. Stir in salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder.
  4. Pour eggs into the muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven during the last 3 minutes of baking. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the muffins and return the tin to the oven.
  5. Bake until the temperature reaches 160oF or a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Tips:
Use other vegetables such as mushrooms, tomato, or spinach instead of broccoli and peppers. Diced means to cut into small pieces (1/4 inch or less).

Nutrition information per serving:
110 calories, 6g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 190mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium, 4g total carbohydrate, 1g fber, 2g sugar, 8g protein

This information is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.

September Is Breakfast Month!

Bowl of yogurt, granola, and blueberries

Breakfast is often considered the most important meal of the day. Yet many skip it. If you’re someone who skips breakfast, try to change that as you get into your fall routine.

Breakfast provides the following:

  • mental alertness
  • important nutrients
  • reduction of chronic disease risk

Remember, a meal is simply a combination of foods from at least three food groups. Thus, breakfast doesn’t have to be huge. Here are some simple, nutrient-rich ideas:

  • Yogurt parfait with berries and low fat granola.
  • Whole wheat tortilla spread with peanut butter rolled around a banana.
  • Coffee Cup Scramble with eggs, milk, and cheese (Recipe, iowaegg.org, from Iowa Egg Council). Enjoy with a slice of toast and a cup of juice.
  • Whole grain cereal, topped with fruit and low-fat milk.

Check out more ideas from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 6 Tips for Better Breakfasts, eatright.org.

Source: Breakfast in Human Nutrition: The International Breakfast Research Initiative, mdpi.com.

Creek Walking

Creek with water and rocks

Looking for a way to keep cool this summer? Try creek walking! It’s a great way to enjoy nature with family and friends, get a little exercise, and experience the outdoors. You don’t need much equipment to creek walk, just a pair of dirty tennis shoes or water socks to protect your feet.

Walking in the creek allows you to explore wildlife and native plants; find a fossil, bone, or antler; and leave the video games at home. Any stream can be unpredictable at times, so walk in the water when you can see the stream floor. Pack drinking water and snacks if you plan to walk a longer stretch. Towels and a change of clothes will provide a dry ride home. If walking alone, let someone know where and when you are going.

Find walking trails at Iowa Walking Trails and Maps, www.traillink.com.

Source: Iowa Department of Natural Resources, www.iowadnr.gov.

Pack a Safe Lunch

Boy opening a school lunch

August is “back to school” time. Does your child bring a lunch from home? When packing school lunches, it’s important to consider food safety. First, wash your insulated lunch box or bag with warm water and soap. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds prior to preparing foods. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item. Preparing and freezing sandwiches the night before is a time saver. Don’t freeze sandwiches that contain tomato, cucumber, or lettuce. Pack your lunch bags right before leaving home.

Insulated, soft-sided lunch boxes or bags help keep food cold, but pack at least two ice sources with perishable food in any lunch bag you use. You can use a frozen juice box or bottle of water rather than a frozen gel pack. When packing your bag lunch, place the frozen ice source above and below the perishable food items to keep them cold.

Want more information? Check out Freezing Sandwiches, https://food. unl.edu/fnh/freezing-sandwiches.

Source: What’s For Lunch? It’s in the Bag!, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/13900.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffin | Serves: 12

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat four
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup oil (canola, olive, or vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup zucchini (washed and shredded; about 1/2 large unpeeled zucchini)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a muffin tin.
  2. Whisk together four, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk together applesauce, oil, milk, banana, and brown sugar in a separate bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened.
  5. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
  6. Divide the mixture between 12 muffin cups. Bake until a tester (knife or toothpick) comes out clean (about 18 minutes).

Nutrition information per serving:

160 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 140mg sodium, 26g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 9g sugar, 3g protein

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

Keep an Eye on These Nutrients

dark, leafy greens

August is National Eye Exam Month—a good reminder for us to get an eye exam! A simple checkup can reduce your risk of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts. Researchers have linked these nutrients to improved vision and overall eye health: lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and omega-3 oils.

Dark, leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli, are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients protect eyes from sun damage. Eating them with olive oil helps our body absorb these nutrients.

Beta-carotene is found in deep orange and dark green vegetables, such as carrots, butternut squash, spinach, and collard greens. It helps prevent dry eyes and night blindness.

Vitamin C may help lower your risk of cataracts. Vitamin C is found in citrus foods, but also in sweet bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and cantaloupe.

Healthy fats such as omega-3s may be beneficial for eye health. Salmon and trout are good sources of omega-3s. Include fish in your meal plan two to three times each week.

Sources: Eat Right, eatright.org. American Optometric Association, www.aoa.org.

Cutting and Storing Fresh Fruit

cut watermelon

It is important to cut and store watermelon and other fruit properly for quality and safety. First, begin by washing your hands. You should also wash the outside of watermelon or other fruit using a vegetable brush and cool water. Bacteria lingering on the outer surface of fruit, like watermelon, can transfer into the
fruit when cutting.

Cut your melon this way:

  1. Cut off the ends, to provide a fat base.
  2. Place the knife where the white rind meets the red flesh. Following the curve of the fruit, cut off the rind.
  3. Cut the whole watermelon into disks, with the width of the disks being the same width you want the diced cubes to be.
  4. With the disks facing down, cut same size strips in both directions, “dicing” the melon.

The ISU Extension and Outreach website Spend Smart. Eat Smart. also has a video called How to Cut a Melon, blogs.extension.iastate.edu/spendsmart, showing how to cut and prepare melon. Store watermelon at 40°F or lower in the refrigerator. Bacteria can grow in cut melon that is held at higher temperatures.

Sources: Cutting & Yield, www.watermelon.org. How to Cut a Melon, blogs.extension.iastate.edu/spendsmart.

Take a Walk in the Park

Did you know Iowa has more than 70 state parks? Iowa State Parks celebrated their centennial in 2020. Didn’t make it to the celebration? That’s okay! The Iowa Department of Natural Resources still has “20 Walks in 2020” mapped routes, www.iowadnr.gov, to help you explore 20 of Iowa’s state parks. These routes are ideal for one or a small group or family.

Iowa By Trail is an app providing interactive maps for 2,000+ miles of Iowa trails. Users can fnd the closest trail to their current position. The app also provides other points of interest along the route, including museums, natural resources, and local restaurants.

What are you waiting for? Get out and walk or bike the trails this summer! You can also enjoy these other activities in Iowa parks:

  • Horseback riding
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Fishing

Sources: 20 Walks in 2020, iowadnr.gov; Iowa by Trail, inhf.org

Avocado Toast with Watermelon

Avocado

Serving Size: 1 slice of toast with toppings | Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons mashed avocado
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 slices whole grain bread, toasted
  • 4 tablespoons diced watermelon
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Mix mashed avocado with lemon juice.
  2. Spread half the avocado mix on each slice of the toasted bread. Top with half of the watermelon and cheese, then sprinkle with half of the mint leaves and lemon zest.

Nutrition information per serving:
130 calories, 6g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 10mg cholesterol, 190mg sodium, 15g total carbohydrate, 3g fber, 3g sugar, 5g protein

Recipe courtesy of Watermelon Board, www.watermelon.org

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