Hot summer days bring outside meals with family or friends. Before you head to the next picnic, it’s important to know how to pack the cooler to keep food at a safe temperature.
The day before, clean your cooler(s). If it feels warm, allow it to cool down indoors. Consider filling water bottles or milk cartons to freeze overnight to use as ice blocks in your cooler. Ice blocks stay frozen longer than ice cubes or ice packs.
Load food straight from the fridge to your cooler. Perishable foods like raw meat, poultry, and fish should be stored in watertight containers or zipped plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods. The cooler should always be below 40ºF. A thermometer placed in the cooler will help monitor the temperature inside.
Avoid opening the lid, which lets cold air out and warm air in. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishable food in a separate cooler. When traveling, place the cooler in the car rather than the hot trunk. Once at your destination, keep your cooler in a shaded area rather than in the hot sun. Placing a blanket, rug or quilt over the cooler will also help keep it cool.
Salad is a popular summer dish. However, it is also linked with foodborne illness. There are ways to prepare salad safely so that friends and family do not get sick. Salad food safety tips include the following:
Wash your hands! Always wash hands before and after preparing any salad ingredient.
Don’t rewash lettuce that is already prewashed in the package. This can introduce contaminants that were already eliminated.
Use a different knife and cutting board for each ingredient. If you intend to keep salad ingredients separate for people to make their own, you won’t have contaminated all ingredients.
Keep salads cold in a refrigerator, in a cooler, or over ice. Don’t leave out at room temperature for more than two hours. Warmer temperatures (40–140 degrees) can cause bacteria to grow on food and promote illness.
Make sure salad is served with a utensil and not bare hands. Hands carry viruses and bacteria that can cause illness. It is best to use clean and sanitized salad tongs or forks.
Visit Produce Basics (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/cook/produce-basics) for tips on how to select, store, and wash many types of salad ingredients.
The human body is 60% water. Our cells need water to:
Control body temperature,
Lubricate and cushion joints, and
Protect sensitive tissues.
Water is vital to regulate body temperature during exercise in the summer heat. Lack of water can lead to extreme thirst, fatigue, and dizziness. Dehydration is particularly dangerous for young children and older adults.
How much water do we need to be drinking? Adults should get 9–14 cups of fluid a day. Generally, if your urine is pale or colorless, you are getting enough.
Remember, you can also drink and eat other things besides water to get the fluid you need.
100% juice (no more than 1 cup a day)
Sports drinks (if sweating a lot)
For more about your water needs, visit Mayo Clinic, mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256.
Put bananas, yogurt, and greens in the blender. Blend until smooth.
Add berries to blender. Blend until smooth.
Add milk to blender. Blend until smooth.
Serve immediately or freeze in individual servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 90 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 20g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 1g sugar, 4g 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
In the summer, eating several small healthy snacks throughout the day is often more comfortable than having bigger meals. Choose nutritious snacks that give you energy as well as help you with focus and memory. Healthy snacking especially benefits these three groups of people:
Older adults tend to prefer to eat light meals or snacks instead of bigger breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals. Choosing nutritious snacks helps maintain their ability to live independently. Snacks high in protein and antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, help the immune system to recover from illness and aids in wound healing.
Children need the calories and nutrients from snacks to get energy for summertime play and sports. Snacks nourish their growing bodies and minds. In the fall, snacks will help kids feel full so they can focus on academics. Read Snacks for Healthy Kids, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/4605, for more information.
Pregnant women have varied appetites, depending on the woman and stage of pregnancy. Snacks can provide quick, easy nutrition for both mother and baby. Smaller snacks rather than larger meals may help reduce the nausea or heartburn some women have during pregnancy.
Here are some easy, healthy snacks:
Fruits and vegetables
Whole-grain crackers and cereal
Low-fat cheese, Greek yogurt
Hard-boiled eggs, unsalted nuts or peanuts
Want a cool summer snack? Enjoy a smoothie!
Do you know a child who needs healthy food this summer?
Check out the Summer Food Service Program meal sites in Iowa, educateiowa.gov/pk-12/nutrition-programs/summer-food-service-program#Summer_Meal_Sites. 211, www.unitedwaydm.org/211, is a one-stop source of information for people looking for help. This phone and online referral service can help people find food, housing, clothing, and much more.
We see many video and print recipes on social media. How do you know if a recipe is safe to use? Fight Bac, a partnership of organizations devoted to food safety, has these tips to ensure your meals don’t include a side of foodborne illness.
Wash your hands. Up to 99% of people don’t correctly wash their hands when preparing food at home. You should wash your hands for 20 seconds. If you sing “Happy Birthday” twice, that is about 20 seconds.
Cook the food to the correct temperature to ensure it is safe to consume. Poultry should be cooked to 165°F; ground meat to 160°F; steaks, chops, roasts, and fish to 145°F. Cook all other foods to at least 140°F. Check our “How to Use a Food Thermometer” video and handout to learn more about taking the temperature of food, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video/use-a-food-thermometer.
Don’t cross contaminate. Cross contamination occurs when foodborne bacteria and viruses spread from one food or surface to another.
Wash the cutting board, counter, utensils, and serving plate thoroughly with hot, soapy water immediately after they have touched raw meat, poultry, or fish.
Do not rinse raw poultry or meat. Rinsing meat can cause bacteria on the meat to spread through the air.
Do not use marinades previously used on raw foods for the cooked product.
Since the spring, gyms, recreation centers, and playgrounds have closed or operated in limited capacity, due to the need for social distancing. However, we can still be physically active while staying safe.
Walking, running, and biking with people in your household can be fun. Find a little-used trail in your neighborhood, an open park, or even a rural area and go exploring!
Avoid crowded parks and recreational areas. Consider canoeing or kayaking in an uncrowded waterway.
Try a workout video. On days when the weather is not right for being outdoors, visit free online videos that encourage physical activity. Visit the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. webpage, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video-category/physical-activity, for ideas.
Men’s Health Month helps raise awareness about early detection and treatment of preventable disease among men and boys. Women tend to outlive men by almost five years. One reason for this is that women are more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. Routine health monitoring can help reduce the risk of men’s deaths at an earlier age. Men are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, and stroke than women. Healthy changes in diet and exercise habits can lower men’s risks for these conditions. Follow these tips to live longer and healthier:
Seek regular medical care to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Get 2 1/2 total hours of physical activity a week, including strengthening exercise on two days a week.
Follow a MyPlate-friendly meal plan. Everyone, regardless of gender, needs to eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein foods, and low-fat dairy. In general, men need more calories and protein than women.
Limit drinks with added sugar, such as soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks. Those can add many extra calories.