Scrub by Scrub: The Importance of Washing Your Produce

Strainer of asparagus

As we transition from winter to spring, many fruits and vegetables—like asparagus and strawberries—start to be in season! It is very important to remember to wash fresh produce prior to eating in order to remove any harmful bacteria like E. coli or listeria. The next time you reach for a fruit or vegetable, use these strategies to ensure it’s clean and fresh:

  • Wash your produce immediately before eating. Washing some produce—like berries—before storing actually hastens spoilage.
  • Wash all produce in cold water; do not use detergents or soap to clean the outside of your fruit.
  • Try using a vegetable brush for fruits and vegetables that have a thick skin.
  • Produce that has tiny nooks and crannies—like cauliflower and broccoli—should be soaked in cold, clean water for one to two minutes.
  • You don’t need to rewash products that are labeled “ready to eat” or “triple washed.”

For visual demonstrations of other ways to select, store, and prepare food, check out the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/videos).

Eat Right, Bite by Bite

March is National Nutrition Month, a campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year’s theme is Eat Right, Bite by Bite.

The first “bite” is knowing portion sizes. Use common items to help guide your portion sizes:

  • Baseball or fist = 1 cup salad greens or cereal
  • Deck of cards = 3 ounces of meat, fish, or poultry
  • Four stacked dice = 1 1/2 ounces of cheese
  • One die = 1 teaspoon of margarine or spread
  • Ping pong ball = 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
Spoonful of yogurt, fruit, and granola

Do you like to bake breads, muffins, or cookies? Another “bite” to consider is increasing your whole grain intake. Simply substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour. Start by substituting one-fourth of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, then one-half, three-fourths, and possibly all!

Another “bite” to consider? Replace some or all of the oil in breads, muffins, or cookies with fruit canned in 100% juice. This will help limit fat intake. Pureed fruit, like applesauce, works best. Use the same approach as the whole wheat flour—start by substituting one-fourth of the oil with fruit and work up to one-half or three-fourths.

Small changes do have a positive effect on your health, and every little “bite” is a step in the right direction!

Sources:
Eat Right (www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month)
National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute (www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/downloads/servingcard7.pdf)

Handling Avocados Safely

sliced avocados

Bacteria love avocados almost as much as people do. Unlike most fruits, the avocado is low in acid. That makes it good for bacterial growth. In addition, we like to eat avocados raw, which means we don’t kill the bacteria by cooking.

Based on a 2014–2016 study, the FDA found that about 18% of avocados had Listeria monocytogenes on their skins. In small amounts, this germ isn’t dangerous for healthy adults. However, it can cause serious harm to young children, older people, and pregnant women.

  • To prepare an avocado safely, you first need to wash your handscarefully.
  • Then rinse the avocado’s skin thoroughly before you cut it open.Otherwise, the blade will carry the germs on the skin into the pulp.
  • Throw away the skin and the pit promptly.
  • To avoid bacterial growth, eat the avocado as soon as possible aftercutting and peeling.

Source: Colorado State University: Food Source Information, fsi.colostate.edu/avocados/#food-safety

Veggie Bean Wrap

Veggie bean wrap

Serving Size: 1 prepared wrap | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 green or red bell peppers (seeded and chopped)
  • 1 onion (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 can (15 ounce) black beans (no salt added) (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 mangos, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado (peeled and diced)
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas (10 inch)

Instructions:

  1. Use a nonstick pan over medium heat. Sauté bell peppers and onion for 5 minutes. Add beans and stir well. Reduce heat to low. Simmer about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir mangos and lime juice in a small bowl. Add cilantro and avocado. Reserve half the mixture for topping.
  3. Fill warmed tortillas. Use 1/4 bean mixture and 1/4 mango mixture.
  4. Fold over ends of the tortilla. Roll up to make wraps. Top wraps with the rest of the mango mixture.

Nutrition information per serving:

464 calories, 12g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 250mg sodium, 76g total carbohydrate, 19g fiber, 0g added sugar,
17g protein

Adapted from MyPlate Kitchen, www.choosemyplate.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/veggie-bean-wrap

5 Reasons to Love Avocados

Avocado on toast

We Americans are eating more avocados than we did a generation ago. In 1985, the average American ate only 1 pound a year. Now it’s more than 7.5 pounds!

Why do we love avocados? It’s not because avocados are cheap. The average price of a Hass avocado reached $2.10
in 2019.

  • Avocados are a luxury that is actually good for us.
  • Avocados are rich, creamy, and high in fat. However, this fat is mostly monounsaturated—so, heart healthy! People who eat avocados every day can raise their HDL (good) cholesterol and lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Avocado-eaters get 20 vitamins and minerals in one fruit! They also get the nutrients that most Americans need more of—magnesium, potassium, and vitamins K and E.
  • Avocados have many phytochemicals. These help protect our cells from damage. In fact, eating avocados may keep your eyes healthy and lower your cancer risk.
  • Talk about versatile! You can use avocados in dips, sandwiches, and salads. They can make smoothies creamy. You can even use them instead of butter on toast.

Find out about preparing avocados from Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/produce-item/avocado.

Source: Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913/

Be the Food Safety MVP on Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching. The big game is a big day for food. When food sits out at room temperature for long periods of time, the door is open to uninvited guests—bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Every year 48 million people become ill from foodborne illness! Don’t be the cause of a foodborne illness penalty flag! Follow these game day rules:

  • Keep hot food HOT and cold food COLD: Hot food needs to be held at 140°F or higher. Use slow cookers and warming trays. Cold food needs to be held at 40°F or lower. Nest dishes in bowls of ice. Otherwise, use small serving trays and replace them as needed.
  • Follow the two-hour rule: Perishable foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Between the pre- and post-game shows, you may easily have food sitting out 4–6 hours; temperature control is required.
  • Handle food safely: Always wash your hands before handling food, and clean all surfaces. Use different utensils for each food item and ask guests to use new plates when returning to the food table.
bowl of chili

For more information on food safety and cooking temperatures, visit ISU’s food safety website or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.

Baked Fish and Chips

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 2 fish strips, 1 cup potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups potatoes (4 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 fish fillets, thawed (wild salmon, about 3 oz. each)
  • 3 cups cornflakes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup flour

Directions:

  1. The potatoes (chips) take longer to bake. Once they are in the oven, prepare the fish.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  3. Scrub potatoes under running water using a clean vegetable brush. Cut in half and then into 1/4 inch slices.
  4. Combine potatoes, oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir so potatoes are covered with oil.
  5. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil spray and lay slices out in a single layer.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn potatoes over and bake for 15 minutes more (for a total of 30 minutes).
  7. Cut each fillet into two strips.
  8. Place cornflakes in a plastic ziplock bag. Crush by rolling a glass over the bag.
  9. Beat egg and water together in a bowl.
  10. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil spray. Put flour in a dish. Dip each strip into flour, then egg mixture, then cornflakes.
  11. Place fish on the sheet and bake in oven for 15 minutes until fish is 145°F or flakes easily with a fork.

Nutrition information (per serving): 410 calories, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 90mg cholesterol, 300mg sodium, 63g total carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 4g sugar, 26g protein

Recipe source: Spend Smart. Eat Smart. (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/recipes)

Holiday Food Safety Hacks

Food is a big part of holiday celebrations. Follow these safe food handling tips to prevent unwelcome foodborne illness from ruining your holidays!

  • Safely thaw food in the refrigerator, in the microwave or in a cool water bath (change water every 30 minutes).
  • Wash hands thoroughly in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before, during and after food preparation.
  • Use hot, soapy water to wash countertops, cutting boards, refrigerator door handles and utensils.
  • Use two cutting boards, one to prepare raw meats and one to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Use separate spoons and forks to taste, stir and serve food.
  • Place leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours of serving.
Washing hands in sink

Adapted from 10 Holiday Home Food Safety Tips (www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/holidays/10-holiday-home-food-safety-tips)

Asparagus with Gremolata Sauce

Serving Size: 1/2 cup | Serves: 6

Asparagus with gremolata sauce is a great side dish to serve with fish. Gremolata is a dressing or a type of garnish that is made with chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh asparagus (washed and trimmed)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 garlic clove (peeled and minced)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Parsley to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling water until tender—about 4 minutes.
  2. Drain. Rinse with cold water to cool quickly and drain again.
  3. Pat dry.
  4. Melt margarine or butter in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat.
  5. Add lemon peel and garlic. Stir for 30 seconds.
  6. Add asparagus and toss to coat.
  7. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Sauté asparagus until heated through—about 3 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Nutrition information per serving:

49 calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 3mg sodium, 3g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1g sugar, 2g protein

 

Recipe courtesy of the USDA Mixing Bowl.

Eating Fish Protects Your Heart

salmon and asparagusAccording to the American Heart Association, eating fish twice a week will lower your risk of heart failure, heart attack, and stroke. The best fish for heart health are oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, or albacore tuna. These fish are all high in omega-3 fatty acids.

So many people have heard about the benefits of omega-3s that fish oil is the most popular nutrition supplement in the United States. However, the latest research shows fish oil isn’t as beneficial as actually eating fish. Whole fish offers a wealth of nutrients besides omega-3 oil, such as protein and selenium. For reasons scientists do not yet fully understand, nutrients often provide the most benefit when they are combined with other nutrients—in the form of food!

Eating fish is both healthy and delicious! Here are a few tips for including fish in your meal plan:

  • Keep seafood on hand. Seafood doesn’t need to be fresh to give you health benefits. Canned and frozen seafood varieties are just as healthy.
  • Be creative. Try different ways to enjoy seafood like seafood salads, tacos, stir-fry, or with pasta.
  • Cook it safely. Make sure you follow safe food handling practices and cook seafood to an internal temperature of 145oF.

ChooseMyPlate.gov offers tips on how to get more heart-healthy seafood on your plate.

Sources:  American Heart Association and Harvard Health

 

Subscribe to Words on Wellness

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Categories