Food Safety for Donated Garden Produce

fruits and vegetablesDonating extra produce from your garden is a great way to reduce waste and address food insecurity in your community. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has two publications that are useful to review if you plan to donate produce this growing season. Growing Together: Food Safety in Donation Gardens provides useful tips for keeping donation garden produce safe during the stages of growing, harvest, and transport. Tips include keeping pets away from the garden, washing hands before and after handling produce, and using municipal (drinking) water to rinse and remove visible dirt from produce. Another publication titled Top 13 Vegetables to Donate to Food Pantries discusses the produce that food pantries prefer to receive because clients recognize them, they are simple to prepare, they can be used in many different ways, and they can be stored at least one or two days without refrigeration.

Find the no-cost resources online at the Extension Store:  Growing Together: Food Safety in Donation Gardens and Top 13 Vegetables to Donate to Food Pantries

Vegetable Soup with Kale and Lentils

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot (sliced 1/8 inch thick)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic (peeled and minced; 3 cloves) or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup dry yellow or brown lentils
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil or Italian seasoning
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) no sodium added diced tomatoes or 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale (about 7 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, carrot, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes.
  3. Add water to veggies in pot. Heat to boiling.
  4. Rinse lentils in colander with water. Add lentils to pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not drain.
  5. Add chicken broth, dried basil or Italian seasoning, and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 5–10 minutes.
  6. Rinse kale leaves; cut out the main stems and discard. Cut leaves into 1” pieces.
  7. Stir kale, salt, and pepper into lentil mixture. Return to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 3 minutes.

 

Nutrition information per serving: 200 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium, 29g total carbohydrate, 12g fiber, 4g sugar, 11g protein

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

Create a Rainbow on Your Plate

Rainbow of vegetables and fruitsWhen it comes to fruits and vegetables, eating a variety of colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and white—provides the best mix of nutrients for your body, not to mention being more pleasing to the eye. Recommendations regarding how much people need depend on age, gender, and amount of physical activity. To learn more about your daily recommendations, visit www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate. Most Americans need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten every day. Remember, all product forms count—fresh, canned, frozen, dried, and 100% juice. By eating more fruits and vegetables, your risk of chronic disease is reduced.

Tips to increase fruits and vegetables in your diet:

  • Prepare fruits and vegetables as soon as you get them so they are ready to eat. Consider dividing into individual  servings so they are easy to grab and go.
  • Have veggies and low-fat dip for a snack.
  • Add vegetables to casseroles, stews, and soups.
  • Choose fruit for dessert.
  • Add veggies to sandwiches.
  • Enjoy a fruit smoothie for breakfast or as a snack.

For more tips, visit SpendSmart.
Source: Fruits and Veggies – More Matters

Sedentary? Get Up and Move!

list of blood testsWe’re often told, “Just get up and move. Get the blood flowing.” Sound advice, but how much movement will counteract the effects of prolonged sitting? What types of movements are best? How often should I get up from my chair?

Researchers investigated the health benefits of reducing the amount of time spent sedentary to improve cardio-metabolic health in middle aged and older adults. Thirteen participants who were active middle-aged and older adults with six or more hours a day of sedentary behavior and had one or more cardiometabolic disorders (high cholesterol, high fasting blood glucose, and elevated blood pressure) participated in the stupeople doing houseworkdy.

Researchers had participants stand up every one to two hours and do low- to moderate-intensity activities for five to ten minutes. They wanted to determine how often and how long participants needed to be active in order to see changes in cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Results showed that HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased while triglycerides and blood glucose concentration decreased most favorably when participants stood up every hour and were active for five minutes. The benefits of these short activity bouts were reversed after participants returned to normal sedentary behavior habits for one week. With behavior change, consistency is essential. Even small repeated behaviors make a huge difference over time.

Bottwoman getting mailom line: low-intensity movement interruptions are an effective means of combating sedentary behavior. If a person is capable and willing to get up and move once per hour, five minutes of activities such as washing dishes, folding laundry, or taking out the trash is sufficient to improve HDL, triglycerides, and blood glucose.

What’s more striking is the fact that regular exercise programs don’t always lead to positive results to the extent seen in this research. These study results do not mean that regular, structured exercise is unimportant for better health. Rather, focus on both regular  exercise and reduced sitting time.

Source: American Council on Exercise,

Facts about Food Safety

Safe Food

Myth #1: Food poisoning isn’t that big of a deal. I just have to tough it out until it’s over. Fact: Some foodborne illnesses can lead to long-term health conditions, and 3,000 Americans a year die from foodborne illness. Get the facts on long-term effects of food poisoning.

Myth #2: It’s OK to thaw meat on the counter. Since it starts out frozen, bacteria isn’t really a problem. Fact: Bacteria grows surprisingly rapidly at room temperatures, so the counter is never a place you should thaw foods. Instead, thaw foods the right way.

Myth #3: To get rid of bacteria on my meat, poultry, or seafood, I should rinse them off with water first. Fact: Rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water can increase chances of food poisoning by splashing juices with any bacteria they might contain onto your sink and counters. Cooking food to the safe minimum internal temperature is the recommended way to reduce bacteria.

Crunchy Apple Roll-up

Serving Size: 1/2 roll-up | Serves: 2Crunchy Apple Roll-up

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium apple
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 (8 inch) whole wheat tortilla
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons crispy rice cereal

Instructions

  1. Chop apple into small pieces, slice thinly, or shred with grater.
  2. Spread peanut butter in a thin layer over tortilla.
  3. Spread apple pieces in an even layer over peanut butter.
  4. Sprinkle with cereal.
  5. Roll up tightly and cut in half.

Nutrition information per serving: 150 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 5g sugar, 4g protein.

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

How to Include Children in the Kitchen

Crumbs and spills aside, cooking with children is a great way to spend quality time and teach important skills like measuring, counting, and following directions. Here are ideas for cooking with children:

  • Teach them to wash their hands. Provide a step stool or chair that children can stand on to reach the counter where you are working.
  • Choose tasks that are appropriate for their age. Explain clearly, in simple instructions, what you would like them to do and show them. For tips on what children can do, watch How to Include Children in the Kitchen.
  • Children can help plan menus and suggest foods they like. They can check the pantry or refrigerator for foods on hand.
  • Children can help at the grocery store by looking for certain foods, shapes, and colors. Children can help put groceries away when you get home.

There are benefits when you involve children with meals and snacks!

  • Children are more likely to eat foods they have helped plan and prepare.
  • Children develop fine motor skills, self-confidence, and independence.
  • Working with your children in the kitchen provides quality time together. You can teach them why nutritious foods are important.
  • Food preparation is a great way to help them use their senses—look, touch, taste, smell, and listen.

Try child-friendly recipes such as Crunchy Apple Roll-up, Scrambled Egg Muffin, Fruit Pizza, and Pizza on a Potato.

Physical Fitness without the Fees

Woman exercising

Strength training is just as important as aerobic exercise. Luckily, you don’t need to buy expensive fitness equipment or gym memberships. Here are some no-cost ways to increase your strength:

  • Lift can or bottle weights. You can use unopened soup cans from your cupboard, or plastic milk, water, or detergent jugs filled with water or sand.
  • Scoot on paper plates. Doing lunges on paper plates placed on a carpet helps sculpt the body.
  • Do push-ups. Push-ups can be done anywhere, anytime. It’s helpful for beginners to use counter tops for assistance by placing both hands on the counter and placing the feet behind from an angle.
  • Use old pantyhose as resistance bands. Anything you can do with resistance bands you can do with pantyhose (squats, curls, and other moves).
  • Conquer the stairs. Skip escalators and elevators whenever you can. Stair climbing strengthens the legs and exercises the heart.

Visit www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/videos/ for how-to videos on muscle-strengthening exercises you can do at home.

Source: Move It Monday

Oatmeal: It’s a Keeper!

 

Jar of oats

Hot cereals, such as oatmeal, are money-saving breakfast foods. Not only do they cost much less than cold breakfast cereals, but they also keep longer on the shelf. A box of oat ring cereal, for example, has a shelf life of 6–8 months. A box of oatmeal can last up to three years! This means that if you’re an oatmeal fan, you can buy it in bulk and not have to worry about it “going bad.”

To ensure the longest shelf life for all cereals, keep them in airtight containers in a cool, dry place where the temperature remains stable. Changes in temperature can cause moisture to condense from the air inside packages. Moisture can cause mold to grow. A dense box of whole grains generally lasts longer than a box of cereal rings, flakes, or puffs because it contains less air.

For more tips on safely storing grains and other dry foods, visit the website www.eatbydate.com/grains/.

Overnight Oatmeal with Berries

Oats

Serving Size: 1/2 cup dry oats | Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk (or less for thicker oatmeal)
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, fat-free
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup raspberries, frozen

Instructions

  1. Combine milk, Greek yogurt, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in a container or jar with a lid.
  2. Add oats and mix well.
  3. Gently fold in raspberries.
  4. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.
  5. Enjoy cold or heat as desired.

Tip: Frozen blueberries or strawberries may be used in place of raspberries.

Nutrition information per serving: 311 calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 7mg cholesterol, 86mg sodium, 53g total carbohydrate, 9g fiber, 21g sugar, 17g protein

Source:  USDA – What’s Cooking

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