Activity Idea: Teaching Food Safety

I don’t watch television cooking shows very often, because their food safety practices usually upset me.

I once watched a popular show (the hostess is a household name that I won’t mention) and spotted at least three things that I would consider food safety problems — these included unsafe recipes for food preservation and cooking temperatures that were just WRONG.

I’m not the only one who is concerned about these shows and what they are teaching (or not teaching) their audiences.  Back in 2004, a research project looked at over 60 hours of cooking shows. They spotted an unsafe handling practice every four minutes. More recent research studies have shown similar results.

It isn’t getting better.

All of the studies documented a lack of handwashing, cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat food, and not using a thermometer to ensure that the foods have been cooked properly.

Other unsafe practices spotted include: fly-away-hair, chipped nail polish, potential contamination with wiping cloths, not washing produce, touching ready-to-eat food with bare hands (combined with inadequate handwashing), sweating onto food, touching hair, licking fingers, double dipping with tasting spoons, and eating while cooking.

One of the studies noted that — not surprisingly — only 13% of the shows they watched mentioned any type of food safety practice.

While I know that these shows are produced primarily for entertainment, I wish they would do a better job of modeling good food safety procedures.  They have the opportunity to teach millions of viewers, but they don’t.

So I had an idea for those that teach food safety.

Have your students watch a few of these shows and note the unsafe practices. Perhaps you could watch a few together and then discuss what they saw and why they identified those items. Have them check too for any good practices or mention of food safety too.

They’ll never look at a cooking show the same way again.

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

References:

  1. Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.
  2. Nancy L. Cohen, Rita Brennan Olson. Compliance With Recommended Food Safety Practices in Television Cooking Shows. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2016.
  3. Curtis Maughan, Edgar Chambers, Sandria Godwin. Food safety behaviors observed in celebrity chefs across a variety of programs. Journal of Public Health, 2016.

And here are a few fantastic resources for National Nutrition Month!

MyPlate Coloring Page

Today is your lucky day!

To celebrate the release of the brand-new MyPlate Coloring Book, I want to share a page from that book with you, for free!

You see, coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. Emerging studies indicate that coloring could help reduce stress in adults as well as children. Plus, it’s just plain fun!

Of course, I couldn’t leave things there. As soon as I learned about the possible health benefits of coloring, I began to brainstorm ways to sneak a few lessons about wellness and healthy eating patterns into my coloring pages. Before I knew it, the MyPlate Coloring Book was born. With patterns intricate enough to be fun to color, and an added dash of simple and memorable health lessons on each page, this book is sure to be fun for all ages!

And now, without further ado, here is the free page from the MyPlate coloring book! How will you use your copy?

MyPlate Coloring Page

Remember, there’s always more in the Nutrition Education Store! Check out these fantastic MyPlate resources…

My Plate Coloring Book

MyPlate PowerPoint and Handout Set

My Plate Banner and Stand

Quick Display Idea: Fruit

Adding a bit more fruit to an eating pattern is a great way to squeeze in a bunch of nutrients without excess calories, but some fruits are higher in calories than others. In fact, some fruits are even processed in such a way that they come with a boatload of empty calories and added sugars.

Help your audience navigate the fruit landscape with this quick and pretty display of fruit.

Arrange the following items in a highly-visible part of your space and make cards that list the calorie content of each item. For an activity, have people match the cards to the fruit. For a non-interactive display, simply place each card by the fruit it describes.

  • 1 fresh apple: 71 calories
  • 1 cup apple juice: 116 calories
  • 1 cup canned peaches in juice: 160 calories
  • 1/2 cup raisins: 216 calories
  • 1 cup canned peaches in heavy syrup: 251 calories

This display will show participants that dried fruit and canned fruit in heavy syrup are much higher in calories than their less-processed counterparts.

Variations and Additions:

  • To add more depth to the display, note the fiber content of each item. This is especially useful when comparing the apple and its juice, since a whole apple contains almost 3.5 grams of fiber, while the juice does not contain any fiber at all.
  • For a temporary display or discussion, place actual servings of all the fruit in this list in glass containers on a table. For a more lasting display, use images, food models, or empty packages instead. This can be done on a table or a bulletin board.
  • Instead of comparing total calories or calories per serving, you could also compare sugars, highlighting hidden sources of added sugars in each food.

For other great fruit activity and display ideas, don’t miss these amazing materials!

12 Little Goals

I’m still thinking about New Year’s resolutions.

The idea in my last post was to approach resolutions like you would a pyramid: start with the basics and build. Instead of making large and broad resolutions, make 12 little changes to your lifestyle. Basically, you can try one new approach per month and then keep adding on to your project for tho entire  year.

And the best part is that it’s not too late for this month!

So, what would you like to do to make your eating pattern a little more healthful? Remember, these small goals don’t always need to be taking something away or stopping doing something; they could be adding things, too.

Only you know what you’re doing now and what you would like to change.

To help get you started, I came up with a list of 20 little goals.

Use this list however you’d like — add to it, choose your favorites, pat yourself on the back for what you’re already doing, etc. Do whatever works for you. Seriously.

  1. Eat one more vegetable every day.
  2. Eat one more fruit every day.
  3. Plan one meatless meal every week.
  4. Buy a refillable water bottle and use it.
  5. Walk an extra 15 minutes each day.
  6. Try a new vegetable this month.
  7. Experiment with an exotic fruit that you’ve never tried before.
  8. Add healthful nuts to your shopping list.
  9. Use more olive oil. Swap out solid fats like butter or margarine for olive oil.
  10. Make your own salad dressings.
  11. Pack your lunch two days a week.
  12. Eat dinner at home at least three nights a week.
  13. Experiment with a “new” whole grain and eat it four different ways.
  14. Wash your hands before eating (even in restaurants).
  15. Experiment with a new spice or herb.
  16. Eat more beans.
  17. Drink less juice.
  18. Eat fish twice a week
  19. Buy old-fashioned oatmeal instead of packaged cereal so that you can eat more oatmeal.
  20. Try one new recipe each month — at the end of the year you will have increased your repertoire of healthy dishes.

I think we all know that eating and being healthful needs to become a lifestyle, not just something you do for a few weeks. Why not try it this year? Small changes at a time. Just think of where you can be 12 months from now.

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

Resolutions for 2017

Early each year every website, television newscast, and magazine at the grocery checkout offers advice on New Year’s resolutions. Most of these involve eating a better diet and getting or staying healthy. It’s almost obligatory that I post about making a new start to a healthier lifestyle in the New Year.

But, do you really want to read more about what you should or shouldn’t do, eat or drink?

Most people already know, or they won’t be making those resolutions. Our local newspaper projected that only 8% of all resolutions are kept.

The real key to resolutions is how to make them stick. If I ask in a month, will you still be “working on them?”

The experts say that in order to turn good intentions into long-term actions, you need to set small goals that you can keep. These small changes can add up. Other suggestions include making the goals specific. Don’t choose vague goals like “eat more fruits and vegetables” but instead choose something that is measurable and concrete, “cook one vegetable each night for dinner.” Another key to keeping resolutions is to write them down.

It may also be useful to change the title.

Instead of “New Year’s resolutions,” make them “Resolutions for the Year.” Think about of doing one new thing each month. Then, at the end of the year you’ll have 12 new habits and a more healthful lifestyle. Develop achievable goals based on the changes you’d like to make for yourself.

Here’s another tip: instead of making one long list, write a goal on the first day of each month on your new calendar or in your phone. That way, you’ll see it at the beginning of each month. Do something new each month, but don’t forget to keep going on the goal from the previous month(s).  You’ll just keep “adding on” each month.

Simple changes and goals can go a long way to making a big difference in your health.

Next year at this time, if someone asks whether you kept your resolutions from last year you’ll be able to say, “yes, 12 of them.”

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

Quick Quiz: What is This?

rimg8869

Quick Quiz: What food is blue/grey and bumpy on the outside, bright orange in the middle, and full of vitamin A?

On a recent visit to a local farmers’ market, I found this item in an outside bin with lots of others of various sizes.  It was on sale for half its regular price and it seemed that there weren’t many people buying whatever it was.

I carried one around while I was shopping and several people asked me what it was. Others asked if it was blue on the inside and what was I planning on doing with it.

Quiz Answer: This mystery veggie is a Blue Hubbard Squash!

It turned out that my mystery gourd was a Blue Hubbard Squash. However, when I asked the clerk what people do with it and how to cook it, she said she didn’t know.

Always inquisitive about food,  I bought it.

(Fortunately it was sold by the piece and not by the pound because the one I picked up weighed 13 pounds)!

When I got home, the squash remained a curiosity. My husband had fun asking about the “monster Smurf gourd,” while visiting neighbors were quick to google it. This veggie was definitely a conversation starter!

rimg8920

So now let’s talk about the Blue Hubbard Squash. This winter squash is known for its ability to be stored in a cool, dry place for long time. Seed catalogs describe it as sweet, dry, and fine-grain. Some people consider this one of the “heirloom” varieties of winter squash, since it was first introduced in the early 1900s.

I admit that the hardest part was cutting into the hard outer shell of the squash.  I “cheated” a little by washing it completely on the outside and putting it whole in the microwave for 10 minutes. This softened the outside enough to allow me to cut into it.  After cutting it in half and cleaning out the seeds and strings, I experimented by baking part of it in the oven and then putting another part in the microwave. Both were equally good, though baking allowed for more caramelization of the natural sugars in the squash.

Hubbard is just one of many winter squash varieties that are readily available now. These vegetables contain fiber and are low in fat. Plus, squash with yellow-orange flesh are rich in vitamin A, which in turn is vital for healthy eyes, skin, and fighting infections. Diets rich in vitamin A may even help reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Winter squash are also a good source of vitamin C. These squash get their name from their ability to last through the winter in a cool dry place (not the refrigerator). Other varieties of winter squash include banana, delicata, turban, butternut, spaghetti, and acorn.

rimg8953

We’ve gotten several meals from this huge Blue Hubbard. At first we just ate it as a vegetable on the side. Then I made some into a soup with apples (it was so sweet, no added sugar was needed). Finally, I added some to brown rice for a risotto-like meal and also put three packs of cooked squash into the freezer for use later.

Don’t want to bother with the cutting and cleaning? Many companies are now doing the work for you by selling raw winter squash already cut and ready-to-use. Here’s a food safety tip: once cut, the squash they should be kept refrigerated and used within a week.

Technically — or should I say botanically — squash are fruits, since the fruit is the part of the plant that develops from the flower and contains seeds. But we usually consider squash a vegetable because it’s more savory in flavor.

Finding a new (or old in this case) variety of squash can increase interest and perhaps add a few more items onto that list of foods you like. How will you incorporate new fruits and vegetables into your eating pattern?

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

As a bonus, here’s a free handout that features fun facts about the Blue Hubbard Squash!

blue-hubbard-squash

And here are a few great fruit and vegetable resources…

Presentation Idea: Motivation Kit

Don't Wait -- Motivate!Motivation readily waxes and wanes. It’s both common and normal. We can help our clients by teaching them to nurture their motivation as they pursue their health and fitness goals. Motivation is often at its highest in the beginning of an individual’s weight loss or health management plan. This is the perfect time to create a Motivation Kit.

Have your patients gather the things that remind them of the importance of their efforts. In a box or a notebook, they can collect photos, a list of reasons to lose weight or get healthier, magazine articles, motivational sayings – anything and everything that pumps them up. When they can’t remember why they need to keep up their efforts, it’s time to dig through that Motivation Kit. Showcasing a sample motivation kit and then helping participants build their own would make a great presentation or activity.

Here are Ideas for a Personal Motivation Kit:

  • A magazine article about people in the National Weight Control Registry. You can find a sample in People magazine — look for the issue about losing half your body weight.
  • A list of reasons to lose weight, including better blood glucose control, make family proud, maybe taking less medicine for diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol, etc.
  • Wedding picture
  • Photos of children/grandchildren
  • Progress report including milestones like I can cross my legs, I sleep better, people tell me I look great, exercise is more fun, etc
  • Motivational saying such as “We can do anything we want as long as we stick to it long enough” (Helen Keller)
  • Lab reports

The above is not an actual kit, but a compilation of several. The key is that it must be personalized.

By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE

Here is a template you can use: Motivation Kit Template

Looking for more great motivational resources? Check out the Nutrition Education Store!

Lighten Up Your Cooking Poster

Exercise to Lose and Control Weight Presentation

Getting Started Handout and Presentation Set

Sneak Peek from the Member Site: Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Today I want to share one of my favorite articles from the member-exclusive October edition of the Communicating Food for Health Newsletter.

In this handout, Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD and Lisa Andrews, RD team up to offer fun ways to help your clients improve their eating patterns and eat more fruits and vegetables. Check it out!

Are you in a fruit and vegetable slump? It’s easy to get stuck eating the same things over and over. Green salad, tomatoes, carrots. Apples, bananas, grapes. Sound familiar? It may be time to mix things up!

Make your own salad bar. Buy at least two kinds of salad greens (baby spinach and romaine, for example) and an assortment of other raw veggies. If time is an issue, go with pre-washed, pre-cut items. Every night at dinner, bring out the assortment of greens and veggies and let everyone make their own salad.

Roast and grill. The pickiest of eaters become veggie-lovers when they try something like oven-roasted Brussels sprouts or grilled fresh asparagus. Roasting and grilling bring out flavors and textures that raw or steamed vegetables just don’t offer.

Embrace the exotic. While we usually recommend that you buy local produce that’s in season, there’s a world of produce out there (like cardoon!). Trying something more exotic once in awhile won’t hurt. Ask the produce manager where you shop to point you toward unique items. Stop by ethnic grocery stores to see what they offer. Where I live, there’s a huge grocery store that carries an endless array of fruits and vegetables from all over the world. Take a short “field trip” and bring home something new to try.

Find fancier frozen veggies. If your freezer is full of peas, carrots, and corn, branch out to other vegetables! Again, this is where an ethnic grocery store comes in handy. They might have things you don’t usually serve. Some specialty stores, like Trader Joe’s, have items like frozen grilled cauliflower. Give these new tastes a try!

Get out of your fruit and veggie slump today by trying something new!

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

BONUS: Kids in a Slump? Getting Your Kids to Eat More Fruits & Veggies

We asked Lisa Andrews, a registered dietitian and mother of two, how she gets kids to eat more produce. Here are a few of her tips:

1. Take your kids when you buy food. While most parents cringe at the idea, it’s important for kids to know where their food comes from. Take them to farmer’s markets and have them help select beans, tomatoes, corn, peaches and other seasonal fruits and vegetables. They may be more likely to try it if they picked it themselves.

2. Invite your kids to help you cook. Kids can clean and snap beans or rinse fruit to be served. This may help them become more confident in the kitchen and more likely to eat food they have prepared themselves.

3. Don’t force food. Encourage your child to try one bite to see if he/she likes it. Don’t reward with treats as it may set up emotional eating later, or your child may feel obligated to eat the new food just to get to dessert.

You can find more from Lisa at www.SoundBitesNutrition.com. Look for her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/soundbitesnutritionllc) and Twitter (@nutrigirl).

Here’s a free PDF handout of this article that you can use however you’d like!

fruitvegetable

There are lots of great materials that would work in tandem with this article. For example, check out this Rainbow Salad Health Fair Display Kit — it’s a perfect way to capitalize on this lesson and get your clients to make healthful choices!

Here are a few items from that kit…

Nutrition Posters for the Workplace

My team and I have created tons of posters over the years, and some of my very favorite ones teach lessons that are important to showcase in the workplace.

We have posters that are designed to bring “better numbers like blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI” or to motivate in a fun way like the food art posters. There are also ones that teach great nutrition lessons and promote positive reinforcement and education.

Let’s take a tour through some of the best options, shall we?

Top Heart Posters:

Top BMI Poster:

Best Nutrition Lessons:

Favorite Motivational Posters:

And of course there is our entire collection of over 150 posters. Which ones will best brighten up your workspace?

And, as a special bonus because I love ya, here’s a free copy of the printable PDF handout that accompanies the Fabulous Fruits and Vegetables poster.

fruitsandvegetablesposter

Display of the Month: Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, so what better time is there to celebrate the joys of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables? This month’s display will help you do just that, without having to burn the midnight oil.

The Materials:

The Activities:

  • Game: Name That Fruit or Vegetable
  • Brainstorming Session: Incorporating Variety into Your Meals

The Details:

To set up your space, first arrange your table with the Color Your World with Food Banner hanging along the front. Flanking it to one side, add the You Need Fuel: Choose Wisely Banner and Stand. To balance it, set up your brainstorming space on the other side of the table. Arrange the Fruit and Vegetable Balloons behind the table. Now top the table with the I Heart Fruits and Vegetables Poster on a Tabletop Easel and arrange some of the Fruit and Vegetable Handouts out in front of it. Line up your prizes (Fruit and Vegetable Pens and Fruit and Vegetable Stickers) at the front of your table, then take a step back and evaluate. How does the display look? Make any necessary shifts, then get ready for your activities.

Display of the month

For the Name That Fruit or Vegetable Game assemble a collection of facts and trivia about common fruits and vegetables. Food and Health’s blog has a few pages of great resources for this game, and the Name That Fruit and Veggie PowerPoint Slideshow is full of fruit and veggie facts as well. Consider the following examples as inspiration for your own collection.

  • This guitar-shaped squash is rich in alpha carotene, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer (butternut).
  • These tart citrus fruits contain limonin, a cancer-fighting compound that is good for your health (lemons).
  • These starchy veggies are fat-free sources of vitamin E (yams).
  • This tree-like veggie is part of the cabbage family (broccoli).

Once you’ve assembled your facts and trivia (note: this should be before the fair), collect a group of people at your booth to compete for the prizes you’ve displayed. Present each fun fact and let people guess what fruit or vegetable matches it. Offer correct answers and prizes as you go, or have people track their successes and declare a winner at the end of the game.

After the game, turn to brainstorming. Grab your marker and a spot within reach of the brainstorming space, then ask people to discuss the fruits and vegetables they commonly eat. Do they get enough? Review the recommendations set forward by MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, then return to the main topic. How can people incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their meals? How can they build up the variety of fruits and veggies they eat in a week? Offer the remaining prizes for participation, handing them out as volunteers call out suggestions.

Additional Resources:

There are lots of other fruit and vegetable resources that would be perfect for this display, or for another Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month activity. Why not try…

And for more inspiration, check out the previous editions of the Display of the Month series…

Here’s the free printable Fruit and Vegetable Handout for your display!

Fruit and Vegetable Handout

And finally, last but not least, here are some essentials for your Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month celebration…