Nuts in Your Gym Bag

I’ve been teaching about healthy eating for a long time. I can remember back when the commonly accepted recommendation was to cut out nuts due to the amount of fats and calories. We’re not saying this anymore.

I probably don’t really need to talk most people into eating nuts. This is a fairly easy sell for most.

Current research shows that nuts can be part of a healthy diet. The most recent version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we all “choose a variety of protein foods, which includes seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products,  nuts, seeds and soy products.” They also recommend limiting the intake of saturated fats and trans fats and replacing them with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in seafood, nuts, seeds, and oils.

Proponents of the Mediterranean Diet say to aim for at least three-ounces of nuts per week. Now this doesn’t mean to eat nuts on top of what you’re eating now. The key is to have nuts INSTEAD of the other potentially less healthful foods.

Nuts are easy to overdo and do have lots of calories. One ounce of nuts can range from about 160 to 200 calories—depending upon the type of nut. On the other hand, nuts are good sources of fiber, protein, magnesium, copper, potassium, folic acid and vitamin B. One ounce is a small handful or about 1/4 cup.  If it comes down to counting: 14 walnut halves and 24 almonds, 16 cashews, 45 pistachios or 18 pecan halves.

Single serving packs of nuts are also available to purchase ready to go.  I know you’re probably saying it’s cheaper to make your own, but for some people that just doesn’t work https://news.nutritioneducationstore.com/perspective/.

I’ve never really been a snack or protein bar person so putting a little bag of nuts in my gym bag to take to the pool is an easy choice.  They are portable and I don’t need to worry about food safety or a banana getting squished at the bottom of the bag.

I do make my own portion controlled bags from bulk nuts. I like to toast the nuts before I put them into the little bags—I just think the flavor is better.  I dry roast them in a fry pan. Slow heat or they burn easily.  My favorites are pecans, but just pick your favorite or go for a combination of mixed nuts.

Grab and go.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

 

The butter dish is empty

We haven’t had butter in our house for over eight months.  We’ve made a conscious effort to do this.

It all started while reading and learning about the Mediterranean Diet.   Traditionally people that live in this region of the world eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, more fish, nuts, beans, seeds and olive oil. Eating a Mediterranean-style diet has shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

With the concerns about trans fats I had previously switched from margarine to butter. We weren’t eating that much butter anyway, but now my goal was to get rid of the butter.  The Mediterranean Diet concept is to substitute solid fats with unsaturated versatile olive oil.

I’m here to say…you can do it!

I’ve seen lots of website and recipes that talk about substituting oils for the solid fats and increasing the olive oil.  Using olive oil in stove top cooking works. So does making a salad dressing.  These substitutions were easy.

Others were a little more difficult.

I’ve heard people suggest that you even use olive oil on your toast in the morning.  I’ve had bread dipped in olive oil with herbs and olive oil on whole grain toast and both are good.  But olive oil on cinnamon toast wasn’t that great. In my opinion cinnamon toast is better just plain. 

While on vacation in Florida I went to a special olive oil store where they have samples of olive oil and flavored vinegars (similar to a wine tasting). It was fun to taste the different types and flavors.  I bought several to try including the “butter flavored” olive oil —thinking it might be good on the cinnamon toast.  Nope, I’m sticking with just plain toast—or peanut butter (another monounsaturated fat).

There have been times when it took some extra thinking or a change in “what we’ve always done”.

One of these times I thought of making a special candy as a holiday gift, but I didn’t have butter in the house.  Then I thought why am I making something that isn’t that healthy to give my loved ones?  So I didn’t buy butter.

Another time also involved guests. I usually make a local specialty of shrimp and grits when we have house guests.  The original recipe that came from a restaurant called for sautéing onion and shrimp in two sticks of butter.  I’ve worked to modify this recipe to start sautéing the onions in a small amount of olive oil, adding celery (to get another vegetable in) and then adding chicken broth for the sauce.  Some folks like it better than the original –they ask for the “healthy” version—and others don’t know there was another version.

I’m just not putting butter on the shopping list.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Eat Eggs—No Yolking!

Earlier this year I posted an Egghead Quiz.  We love to hear from readers about our posts and this one got lots of responses. One reader indicated she wished I had also addressed eating egg whites vs the whole egg.  This got me thinking and doing some additional research in this area.

Like many of you, I’ve been teaching healthful living and nutrition-related topics for many years and the “bad guys” seem to come and go.  This is based on current research and longitudinal studies.  As I tell my students, as we learn more, we know more and things change.

Eggs (and specifically the yolks) used to be one of the “bad guys”. What we were talking about here was cholesterol and the belief that eating eggs and other foods containing dietary cholesterol increased the risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease.  Early versions of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommended that cholesterol intake be limited to no more than 300 mg per day.  This is no longer believed! 

The 2015 DGA do not contain this recommendation because research does not show a relationship between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol.  Cholesterol is no longer considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.  The American Heart Association recommendations agree with this.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage the consumption of healthy dietary patterns that contains all foods and beverages at an appropriate calorie level while limiting saturated fats, added sugars and sodium.

Saying that, where do eggs fit in?

They can be part of a well-balanced healthful diet. According to the USDA Nutrient Data Base one large (50 grams) hard-cooked egg contains 78 calories, 6 grams protein and 5 grams of fat (1.6 g is saturated, 2 g monounsaturated and .7 polyunsaturated) and varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals. While egg whites contain almost half of the egg’s protein along with riboflavin and selenium, the majority of the nutrients are found in the yolk.  If you break it down, the yolk contains all of the egg’s fat and 76% (59) of the calories, 42% (2.52 g) of the protein and all of vitamins A, D, and B6, zinc, iron and choline.  Egg yolks are one of the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D.

The biggest concern about eggs would be about in the area of saturated fats.  Animal products, including eggs, do contain saturated fat, which can raise blood cholesterol. Too much bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood can contribute to formation of plaque and narrowing of the arteries. The DGA recommendation is that less than 10% of your total daily calories come from saturated fats. For someone eating 2000 calories a day that’s about 13 grams of saturated fats.

While the numbers are small, if you are concerned about saturated fats and calories you could choose to eat one whole egg plus two egg whites instead of two whole eggs. But, don’t skip the yolk altogether, it contains a lot of the “good guys”.

A calorie comparison shows that portion control is important so you eat a 2 egg equivalent instead of 4:

  • 4 egg whites (2 egg equivalent) = 68
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg whites (2 egg equivalent) = 112
  • 2 eggs = 156
  • 4 eggs = 312

Cost comparison shows real eggs are cheaper by 50%:

  • Egg substitute (nonfat) = .16 ounce or about .32 for one egg equivalent
  • Eggs .16 each average cost (averaging store brand and free range eggs at $2 per dozen)

The real issue with eggs may be the high-saturated-at additions often added to eggs and omelettes:

  • Cheese – just one ounce is 110 calories, 20 grams of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat
  • Butter – just one tablespoon is 111 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 7 grams of saturated fat
  • Whoa – this means a 4 egg omelette cooked in a tablespoon of butter with one ounce of cheese would rake in 533 calories and over 30 grams of fat.

Solution:

Go with a 2 egg equivalent and prepare them scrambled with a little cooking oil spray in a nonstick skillet or poached or hardboiled. Skip the butter and cheese.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

 

References:

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/pdfs/scientific-report-of-the-2015-dietary-guidelines-advisory-committee.pdf   Part D, Chapter #1, page 1

https://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-nutrition/cracking-the-cholesterol-myth/

http://www.eggnutritioncenter.org/science-education/health-professional/eggs-cholesterol-getting-heart-matter/

http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/11/11/01.cir.0000437740.48606.d1 2013 American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association Guidelines on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/ USDA Food Composition Databases

http://peapod.com for cost comparisons

Want heart healthy teaching tools? You are in luck:

Is this safe to eat?

Sometimes it’s more a question of quality than safety.  Frozen food is a great example of this. When it comes to freezer burn, this problem is more of a quality issue.  While safe to eat, the quality of freezer burned food may be poor.

But, before I go on, I must stress that the safety of food in a freezer is always based on the fact that the food and the freezer has been at zero degrees or below. If there has been a power outage and/or the food has reached a temperature over 40 degrees at any time while in the freezer, the safety of the food may be in question.

What is freezer burn in the first place?  It is simply the result of air coming into contact with the food while it’s in the freezer.  Usually there is a color change and dry spots develop on the food. Freezer burn may just be dehydration or food may also have an “off flavor”.  While it may not look  or taste appetizing the food is completely safe to eat.  If the damaged area is small, it can be cut off before or after cooking.  If the damage is extensive the food may need to be pitched.

To help keep frozen food from getting freezer burn, there are some fundamental tips:

Re-wrap meats when you come from the store. That thin film found on grocery store meat is not thick enough to keep air from getting in. For best quality rewrap meats with moisture and vapor–proof wraps or bags.  This is also a good time to separate the food into serving-size pieces and remove foam containers to ease defrosting and cooking in the future.

Not all bags are created equal.  Don’t use “storage” bags when you should be using “freezer” bags.  Bread bags and plastic bags from grocery stores are not moisture or vapor proof and will not protect food in the freezer no matter how tight they are wrapped or how many layers have been used.

Air is not your friend. Since air is the real problem, make sure to squeeze as much air out of freezer bags and other container as possible before putting the food into the freezer.  Those vacuum sealers do a good job of getting the air out when freezing foods.

Use freezer quality containers.  Leftover margarine, cottage cheese or sour cream containers are not designed for this purpose and won’t do a good job of keeping that air out. Also, it is not recommended that you reuse the plastic containers and trays that come with microwaveable entrees. Use plastic containers or wide-mouth glass jars specifically designed for the freezer.

Prevent FISH food. Make sure everything that goes into the freezer gets labeled with its name and the date it was frozen.  Often food get stuffed into the back of the freezer and forgotten. Develop a frozen food inventory and practice FIFO—First In-First Out. This will help prevent what food safety experts call FISH food—First In-Still Here.

If care is taken, the quality of frozen fresh foods like meat, poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables will be good for a year.  Precooked foods and leftovers are best if eaten within three to four months. Sometimes veggies with a few freezer crystals, that have been frozen at the proper temperature, can be rinsed under a colander and then steamed. Using up food in the freezer on a weekly basis is a good budget-inducing habit that helps you avoid food waste.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

PS for a fantastic tip on how to use the freezer for planned-over meals see “Was the caterer just here?”

Fresh Local Corn–Enjoy While You Can

We all know that local corn-on-the-cob tastes the best. One of the reasons is that corn’s natural sugars change quickly after harvest causing the corn to lose its sweetness quickly. Corn is one of those great summer farm market treats.

When selecting sweet corn look for husks with good bright green color that are snug to the corn ear and the silk dark brown. Avoid silk with worms or decay. Select ears that are full of kernels. These kernels should be well developed and plump, tender and milky.  If they are too large or too dark they can be tough, chewy and pasty.

For best quality, store corn in the husks uncovered in the refrigerator. If you have corn without the husks, put them in a perforated plastic bag. Corn is best when eaten within two days. After removing the husks and silk, wash the corn in cool running water before eating, cooking or preserving.

Nutritionally corn is a good source of carbohydrates as well as small amounts of Vitamins A and C.  It is sodium-free and low in fat.  Depending upon the size, corn can yield 2/3 to 1 cup of corn per ear. One medium ear of corn contains about 90 calories. Corn provides folate and thiamin as well as fiber.  It can also be a source of zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that may protect against age-related eye disease, such as macular degeneration.

Even though corn is a starchy vegetable, it can still fit into a healthy balanced diet.  According the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans we should try to eat 2-2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day and this can include 5 cups of starchy vegetables a week. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-3/ The key here again is balance and moderation and an occasional ear of corn-on-the cob when it’s fresh adds variety.

Instead of the traditional boiled and slathered with butter and salt corn-on-the-cob, try roasting on the grill with a little olive oil. I recently placed husked corn in a zip-top bag with a small amount of olive oil and added an herb blend. I turned the bag over several times to coat the ears with the oil and seasoning.   Then I took the cobs out of the bag and placed the cobs directly on a hot grill turning them several times until the kernels were slightly charred and golden. The flavor was great and there was no need to add extra salt or butter. Do be careful to watch the corn as it cooks, you don’t want it to overcook and dry out.

Judy’s favorite method for grilled corn is to start in the microwave and then finish on the grill at the same time the other items are cooking. That keeps it sweet and from getting tough and burnt. She cooks it in husks or in a covered dish for 2 minutes per ear. See her recipe below for corn salad using leftover cooked corn.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Here is one of Food and Health Communication’s Favorite recipes for corn:

Fresh Corn Salad

Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 cup
Total Time: 15 min | Prep: 15 min | Cook: 0 min

Ingredients:

6 cups dark green lettuce, preferably red leaf
2 ears of corn, shucked and cooked
1 large, ripe tomato
1/2 medium-sized, ripe avocado
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flavored vinegar
Black pepper to taste

Directions:

Cut the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and soak in a large amount of cold water; allow to stand so the dirt sinks to the bottom. Drain the lettuce well in a colander. Place the lettuce in a salad bowl.

Cut the corn off the cob and place on top of the lettuce. Core and dice the tomato and place on top of the salad. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh from the rind. Dice the avocado and place it on top of the salad.

Chill and cover the salad until ready to serve, up to 3 hours.

When ready to serve, drizzle oil and vinegar over the top and add black pepper to taste.

Serves 4. Each 1 cup serving: 148 calories, 8g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0gtrans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 18mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 4gsugars, 4g protein.© Food and Health CommunicationsAnother article in the blog on Corn-on-the-Cob

Shucks with the husks

Freezing the Taste of Summer

One of the great tastes of summer  is corn-on-the-cob. Lots of people try to retain that great flavor for later in the year by freezing corn when it’s at its peak.

People are always looking for quick and easy ways to do things and the internet tends to perpetuate this with the latest fads and quick-you-have-to-try recipes. Preserving corn-on-the-cob is frequently a topic. I’ve heard two new corn “ideas” this year. While neither are “unsafe”, the quality of the final products may not be so great.

One of these  methods is freezing corn cut off-the-cob  in a mixture of water, sugar and salt in lieu of blanching. There is no research to prove that this sugar and salt brine would be a substitute for heat to inactivate enzymes.

Another  “tip” going around is to put the corn directly in the freezer (husks and silk and all). This method obviously doesn’t include blanching either.  For my personal thoughts on cooking in the husks see an earlier blog post Shucks with the Husks .

If you’re going to freeze corn, blanching is highly recommended.  This is for quality not safety. Blanching inactivates enzymes within the food. If not destroyed,  these enzymes can cause loss of flavor, color and texture in the frozen food. Blanching is scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time and the immediately cooling in ice water.  Without blanching you may have a very poor quality product.

Fresh sweet corn may be frozen cut-off or on-the-cob. I usually tend to avoid frozen corn-on-the-cob because sometimes it’s mushy, watery and “cobby” tasting  when cooked. If you really love eating corn from the cob, here are some tips that can help you be successful:

According to the National  Center for Home Food Preservation  http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/corn.html medium ears of corn should be blanched for 7 minutes. One of the key steps to keep this corn from tasting like the cob when thawed is to leave them in the ice water and even adding more ice to completely chill the cobs after blanching.  The general “rule of thumb” is to chill the corn for as long as it was blanched. Don’t allow it to stay too long or it will get soggy and allow to drain well before freezing. Another tip to get better quality results is to slightly thaw the corn-on-the-cob before cooking.

I usually suggest to people to try freezing a few ears and then prepare and see if you and your family likes them before getting carried away and using a lot of freezer space on something you won’t like come January.

Here are a few more tips from Chef Judy Doherty to savor your favorite foods this summer:

  1. Berries can be frozen in zip bags so they are ready for smoothies, muffins, pies, sauces/purees, and cobblers. Mix them for a fun new flavor sensation or keep them separate.
  2. Tomatoes can be cooked into sauce or salsa and frozen in a zip storage bag.
  3. Herbs can be made into pesto or frozen in tupperware so they can be slipped into your favorite foods and dishes. To make a simple pesto, puree your favorite herbs with a little olive oil then freeze on foil, slice and freeze the squared in a zip storeage bag.
  4. Corn should be steamed and then cut off the cob for the best results. Or just cut it off the cob and then steam before freezing. The problem with freezing a whole cob is that you will overcook your corn trying to heat the whole cob.
  5. For peaches and tree fruits, cut them into wedges, freeze on a sheet, then put them into zip bags.
  6. Spinach and other greens may be flash steamed (steam quickly) and then stored in zip bags or plastic containers in small serving sizes.
  7. If you have a lot of fresh mint consider freezing it in ice cubes so you can flavor water or tea.
  8. Grate zucchini and carrots and freeze them in ziplock bags so they are ready for muffins and quick breads.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

 

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Keeping Bread Fresh

I bet everyone, at one-time-or-another, thrown a loaf of bread or an extra bag of hot dog buns directly into the freezer in the store wrapper.  Then a few weeks later wondered what happened  and why it was crumbly, dry, tasted like the inside of the freezer and was basically inedible.

Easy answer: freezer burn.

This is the process of food drying out inside the freezer. This usually happens if the food has been improperly wrapped.  Cold moving air inside the freezer is your enemy when it comes to the quality of the food once thawed.  This air can get into inappropriate containers and wraps and causes the food to be dehydrated, develop off-flavors along with other quality and texture changes.

Bread is a perishable product. The main problem with bread is that it becomes stale and may develop mold.   In general, commercial breads can be kept in a cool dry place (like the pantry, kitchen counter or bread drawer) for two to five days. Homemade breads and those commercially made without preservatives have a shorter shelf life.

You can put bread in the refrigerator to inhibit mold growth, but this tends to speed staling. 

 Freezing bread is generally the best alternative for storing bread for longer than a few days. Staling and  mold growth will be slowed or halted in the freezer.  The  main thing to remember is that it should be wrapped well. Just putting it in there in the bag it came in from the store is asking for failure.  Bread wrappers are not sufficiently moisture-vapor resistant to be used for freezing.  Well wrapped bread keeps in the freezer for two to three months.

Bread should be removed from the store wrap and placed in what they call moisture and vapor proof packaging. This packaging will not become brittle or crack at low temperatures and keepd that damaging air out. This packaging will also protect foods from absorbing off-flavors or odors.

What is a good wrap? Specifically developed freezer paper is good.  Heavy-duty aluminum foil also works well. Another good way to package bread is in zip-top freezer bags.  These allow you to take out just what you need and keep the rest frozen.

A few kitchen hacks to keep bread fresher longer:

  • I wrap my bread in two slice packs inside the freezer bag, just right for a sandwich or easy to separate if I only want one piece.
  • I slice English muffins and bagels before freezing and separate the layers with plastic wrap. That way if I only want half a muffin I can easily take out just one half and keep the rest frozen.
  • I do the same with bagels. Cut them in half and then in quarters and separate the pieces as I wrap. That way if I only want half a bagel I get both a top and bottom and not just the boring bottom half.
  • When purchasing loaves of bread from a store it is always better to get the bakery to pre-slice them on a machine for you. Then you can wrap the slices into 2 serving packets or double bag them all if you are going to use them up fast.

Thawing a piece or two of frozen bread only takes a few minutes on the counter.  Individual slices, bagels  or English muffins can go straight into the toaster.

One last thing. What about if the bread does become moldy, should you just cut it off and use it anyway?  NO.  Bread is porous allowing molds to quickly and easily spread. It may be contaminated with toxins deeper than you can see. Moldy bread should be pitched.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

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Grill it safely

I recently went to a large outdoor family event where lots of hamburgers were being cooked on grills.  Was there a food thermometer in sight?

Nope.

I really don’t understand why people are so resistant to using a food thermometer when cooking. The only way to be sure that meat is cooked to a high enough internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria is with a thermometer.  This means on the grill, too. Many folks are not in the habit of using these tools and they are easily forgotten when cooking outside.

A June 27, 2017  news release * from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service  says that recent research “found that only 24 percent of the public uses a food thermometer when cooking hamburgers and only 42 percent do so when cooking chicken.” “I’m glad to see that the percentage of people using a thermometer is getting better, a 2002 survey showed that only 6% of cooks used thermometers on burgers.

The safe minimum cooking temperature for ground meats, including beef, pork, veal and lamb, is 160 degrees.  If you have turkey or chicken burgers they should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.  If you’re making steak or pork chops they only need to be cooked to 145 degrees.

While many folks use it as a guide, color is not a good indicator for doneness of ground beef.  If raw ground beef is somewhat brown to start with, it may look fully cooked before it reaches a safe temperature. Conversely, some burgers may still be pink and have already reached a safe temperature.

You may ask: “why are there different temperatures for steak and ground beef?”  The pathogen of concern here is E.coli and the problem is with the grinding. If there are any bacteria on the surface of the meat it will be mixed in when the meat is ground. On-the other hand, when a steak is placed on a grill or under the broiler, any bacteria that may be on the surface is destroyed by the high heat.

Chicken and other poultry are usually associated with the bacteria called salmonella. It takes a little higher temperature to destroy this, so that’s why all chicken or other poultry should be  cooked to a minimum internal temp of 165 degrees F.

The take-home message:  if you don’t have a food thermometer—think about buying one.  If you already have one, please dig it out and use it. It takes the guess work out of cooking meats and lets you have confidence that the meat you’re serving will not make someone sick.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

*https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2017/06/27/fsis-provides-pro-grilling-tips-summer-barbecues

Teachable Moments

Educators call lessons learned in real life “teachable moments.” That’s the time that is just right for someone to learn something.

Wouldn’t you think that would be true with food safety? Especially when it’s related to cooking.

Cookbooks and on-line recipes could be a really good source of food safety information.  Putting the appropriate information—like cooking temperatures, cross contamination risks or storage times — right into a recipe would provide the cooks the info right when they need it.

This seems so simple. But it’s not being done. A study at North Carolina State University, that was recently published in the British Food Journal* looked at cookbooks and the advice they gave about food safety. The researchers evaluated a total 1,497 recipes from 29 cookbooks that appeared on the New York Times best sellers list for food and diet books.

One thing they specifically looked at was if a recipe did tell the reader to cook the food to a specific internal temperature. In other words—did they encourage the use of a food thermometer?

They also looked to see if the recipe perpetuated food myths. Some of these were cooking poultry until the “juices run clear” or hamburger until it is brown.  Both of these are unreliable for determining if the food has reached a safe temperature.

Some of the cookbooks recommended cooking temperatures. Yeah!  But not very many—only 8% or 123 of the recipes reviewed even mentioned a temperature.  But unfortunately not all of these temperatures were right. So even if a person followed the recipe exactly they may not be cooking the food to a high enough temperature reduce the risk of a foodborne illness.

Overall, only 89 out of 1,497 recipes gave readers reliable information that they could use to reduce their risk of foodborne illness.

This isn’t new info. A similar study was done about 25 years ago, and found similar results. So nothing really has changed in the past quarter of a century.

Ideas for educators:

  • put minimum cooking temperatures into recipes that you share with students
  • when doing food demonstrations use and explain good food safety practices including hand washing, heating to a proper temperature quickly, refrigeration or ice chests to keep cold food cold, avoiding cross contamination on cutting boards and with utensils, and using a food thermometer when appropriate
  • don’t use vague terms such as “cook till done” or “bubbly inside” to describe when a food is done; explain the process like cook chicken until the juices run clear and the internal temperature is 165 degrees F.
  • offer storage tips for finished products like refrigerate in shallow pan immediately

Here is one example from foodandhealth.com

Chili on The Grill

Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Total Time: 20 min | Prep: 5 min | Cook: 15 min

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 bell pepper chopped
1/2 jalapeno, chopped fine (no seeds)
Dash of cumin
Dash of chili pepper
Dash of dried oregano
Drizzle of olive oil
Juice of 1 lime

Directions:

Place all items, except for the lime, on foil with the drizzled olive oil. Place on preheated grill of 400 degrees F. Grill until the beans are heated through and the veggies are caramelized and tender, about 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with lime juice.

Serve the beans and vegetables with grilled chicken that is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F and steamed brown rice. A side salad is great, too! Serve all food hot immediately. Refrigerate leftovers immediately.

Serves 4. Each 1/2 cup serving: 172 calories, 4g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 8mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 9g fiber, 2g sugars, 8g protein.
© Food and Health Communications

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

*Katrina Levine, Ashley Chaifetz, Benjamin Chapman, (2017) “Evaluating food safety risk messages in popular cookbooks”, British Food Journal, Vol. 119 Issue: 5, pp.1116-1129, https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-02-2017-0066

Here is our food safety temperature poster:

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Easter Candy and Your Health

Easter is the second biggest candy holiday in the United States.* According to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), over 120 million pounds of Easter candy is purchased each year. This includes 16 billion jelly beans, 90 million chocolate bunnies, and an untold number of marshmallow peeps.

That’s a lot of sugar!

Moreover, according to research from the NCA, 87% of parents will make Easter baskets for their children this year. It’s also interesting to note that 81% of these parents will then steal candy from their children’s baskets.

So, what are parents usually putting in Easter baskets?

  • 89% say Easter candy and chocolate
  • 79% include non-edible items like crayons, stuffed animals, books, and movie passes
  • 46% add candy with “added benefits” like dark chocolate or chocolate with added fruits and nuts
  • 44% fill the baskets with what they call “heathier snacks” such as granola bars or dried fruit
  • 35% include gums and mints

How about you and your clients?  How do you fill the baskets?

That stash of Easter candy can easily put everyone in the family over their recommended sugar intakes for the day. Remember, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans assert that people should “Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.”

Perhaps it’s time to think outside the jelly bean.

A full 11% of the families surveyed by the NCA didn’t add any candy to their baskets, so I’m not being unrealistic when I say it can be done. Although candy is part of Easter traditions, consider at least limiting the amount and types of candy you put in the basket. I do like the idea of chocolate with “added benefits” like nuts. Other healthful food ideas include some 100-calorie snack packs, nuts, dried fruits, little boxes of raisins, and trail mix.

There are lots of suggestions online for non-edible items like marking pens, money, stickers, and toys. Our own Chef Judy has some great ideas for non-candy items that could also promote physical activity and healthful eating. How about replacing at least some of those jelly beans or marshmallow peeps with:

  • Noodles for the pool
  • Jump ropes
  • Balls
  • Bubble supplies with big wands
  • Colorful athletic shoes
  • Activity passes for fun things to do in the area
  • Family board games
  • Pool towels and swim goggles
  • Athletic clothes
  • Frisbees
  • A healthful cookbook
  • Cooking equipment for foodie kids
  • A new reusable water bottle

Anything that gets the kids and family outside and moving or interacting together makes a great stuffer for an Easter basket, and they’ll last longer than candy too!

So, what will you be putting in your baskets this year?

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

* Halloween is the first.

And here are some other fun prizes that you can put into Easter baskets…