Can You Outgrow a Food Allergy?

bowls of allergens - nuts, eggs, milk, flour

It appears age may affect a person’s ability to outlast a food allergy. In general, children may outgrow allergies to milk, egg, soy, and wheat. New research also shows that up to 25 percent of children may outgrow their peanut allergy. However, food allergies in adults tend to be lifelong. The most common food allergies for adults are shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and fish.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include vomiting and diarrhea. These can sometimes be mistaken for the stomach flu or food poisoning. Currently, avoiding the food you are allergic to is the only way to protect against most food allergy reactions. Researchers are exploring treatments and therapies to help manage food allergies.

Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

Put the Freeze on Spoiled Food

food in freezer

Freezing is quick and easy. It helps preserve the nutritive quality more closely to fresh food than any other food preservation method used today. When freezing foods, the goal is to keep ice crystals as small as possible. Large ice crystals can cause an undesirable soft, mushy texture.

Foods to be frozen must be packaged in a way that protects them from the dry freezer climate and excludes as much air as possible. Ideal containers for freezing must be

  • expandable or sealed with sufficient headspace for expansion;
  • moisture-vapor resistant;
  • durable and leak proof;
  • resistant to cracking and brittleness at low temperatures;
  • resistant to oil, grease, and water;
  • protective of foods from absorption of off flavors and odors; and
  • easy to seal and label.

Avoid using waxed paper, paper or cardboard cartons, any rigid carton with cracks or poorly fitting lid, or re-used plastic dairy containers (e.g., cottage cheese or yogurt containers). These do not resist moisture enough to be suitable for long-term freezer storage.

To learn more about freezing and other food preservation methods, register for Preserve the Taste of Summer 101, https://bit.ly/34pVRjQ.

Take a Tastebud Adventure

Bowl of rice and vegetables

March is National Nutrition Month. This year the focus is “Celebrate a World of Flavors.” While food patterns are influenced by family traditions and ethnic or cultural groups, it is also wonderful to try and explore new foods. Here are four reasons to try new foods.

  1. Gain Appreciation for Other Cultures. Trying foods from other areas of the country or world can give you a greater appreciation and understanding of a different culture. Try nearby restaurants that serve cuisine you’ve never tried before. Go to a specialty grocery store (such as an Asian market or bodega) to buy something to try at home. Cook a new recipe. Explore the USDA Culture and Food website, https://bitly/3AR0Bek.
  2. Expand Your Options. By being adventurous and trying new foods, you’ll increase your meal options. This will help stop meal prep boredom of cooking the same meals or going to the same restaurants.
  3. Improve Nutrition. Eating and enjoying a wider variety of food also means that you’ll get more nutritional variety. This means finding new sources of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in which your current food patterns may be lower.
  4. Find Common Ground. A common social activity across nearly all cultures is eating. Mealtime is an opportunity for people to gather lowering feelings of loneliness and enhancing happiness.

Food Safety Mythbusters

Blocks saying Facts and Myths

We all do our best to serve our families food that’s safe and healthy. However, do you know all you should know? A few food safety practices that many people believe and follow are actually myths.

Myth: I don’t need to wash fruits or vegetables if I'm going to peel them.

Fact: Because it’s easy to transfer bacteria from the peel or rind when you’re cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash all produce, even if you plan to peel it.

Myth: To get rid of any bacteria on my meat, poultry, or seafood, I should rinse off the juices with water first.

Fact: Rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water can increase your chance of foodborne illness by splashing juices and any bacteria they might contain onto your sink and counters. If you choose to rinse for cultural reasons, make sure to clean and disinfect the sink and counters immediately afterward.

Myth: 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. In fact, it could increase the risk for cross-contamination. This means harmful bacteria from your hands or kitchen surfaces could find their way onto the greens while washing them.

Source: Home Food Safety Mythbusters, fightbac.org

Safe Food at Potlucks

Table of various foods

Potluck meals are a fun, low-cost way to celebrate the holidays with friends and family. They are also linked with the spread of foodborne illness. Follow these tips to keep food safe:

  • If you or someone in your home has “stomach flu” or symptoms of a foodborne illness, don’t prepare food.
  • Don’t mix salads, such as potato or a tossed lettuce salad, with your bare hands. Use utensils or wear gloves instead.
  • To keep cold foods cold (40°F or lower), remove items from the refrigerator just before leaving home and put them in a cooler with ice or a freezer gel pack. Remove hot food items from the oven or cooktop and place in containers such as insulated bags to keep foods hot (140°F or above).
  • To prevent cross-contamination, cover your car seat with a clean sheet or large towel before placing the food container on it and don’t transport food with animals in your car.

Source: Food Safety: Potluck Parties, bit.ly/3ohLFAl.

Food Safety Tips for Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Roast turkey
  1. Thaw your turkey safely: Plan ahead, since thawing may take days in the refrigerator. Do NOT thaw it on the counter, in a bathtub, on the porch, or in the garage.
  2. Handle your turkey safely: Before touching the turkey, wash your hands for 20 seconds. Do not wash or rinse the turkey. This may spread poultry juice to other foods and lead to foodborne illness. Use a clean cutting board. Wash the board with warm soapy water after use and before preparing the next item.
  3. Cook your turkey safely: Set oven temperature to at least 325°F. Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Find cooking times at USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, bit.ly/3kZeP6D. Use a food thermometer to check in at least two of the thickest parts of the breast, thigh, and wing joint. After cooking, the turkey should rest for 20 minutes to let juices settle.
  4. Chill your turkey safely: Divide leftovers into small portions and refrigerate or freeze within two hours after cooking. Use refrigerated leftovers within 3–4 days and frozen cooked turkey in 2–6 months for best quality. For more Thanksgiving-friendly food safety tips, visit FoodSafety. gov, bit.ly/3A55oqt.

Source: FoodSafety.gov, bit.ly/3A55oqt.

Fall Home Food Preservation

Apples, winter squash, and pumpkin may still be on your home food preservation to-do list.

Jar of canned vegetables
  • Always use tested recipes and procedures. Use publications from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, nchfp.uga.edu/,and ISU Extension and Outreach’s Preserve the Taste of Summer, store.extension.iastate.edu/.
  • Canning apple pie filling requires Clear-Jel. This is the only thickener that holds up to canning. It is not available in stores but you can purchase it online. Do not substitute Instant Clear-Jel or any other thickener for home-canned pie filling.
  • You can pressure-can squash and pumpkin safely if you cut them in cubes. However, you cannot safely puree squash and pumpkin. The density of the pureed squash/pumpkin can prevent adequate heat processing, even in a pressure canner.
  • There are no tested recipes for home-canned pumpkin butter. You can freeze pumpkin butter or store it in the refrigerator.

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

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.

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.

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