5 Tips for Summer Food Safety

Don't get sick during your summer fun because you didn't follow these food safety tips (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Don’t get sick during your summer fun because you didn’t follow these food safety tips (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Summer is here and one of the top concerns has to be keeping families safe from food borne illness.   Summer means backyard barbecues, block parties, hiking trips, picnics, and all kinds of fun time spent outside.  But all that fun is often accompanied by food sets the stage for food borne illness to steal the show.  Make sure your family is safe this summer by following these easy food safety tips.

Get a Thermometer for the Grill

Much of the time when we are talking about food safety related to the summer months, we are talking about the dangers of letting cold food get too warm.  But it can also be dangerous if hot food doesn’t get hot enough, especially when you are cooking on the grill.  Get a good food thermometer to go with your grill equipment and always check the temperature to make sure the food you are cooking is safe to consume.

Keep Things Separated

Take steps to ensure that raw food and cooked food are kept separate at all times.  This means never reusing the plate you brought the raw hamburgers or chicken out on as the serving dish for the cooked meat.  It means having separate sets of thongs and other utensils so that there is no risk of contaminating food once it has been cooked.

Don’t Defrost Meat at Room Temperature

It can be very tempting to use all that summer sunshine to help defrost your meat for dinner more quickly but if you don’t defrost meat properly, you risk making it unsafe to eat.  The only safe way to defrost meat is to put it in the refrigerator a day or two before you plan to use it.

Wash Fruits, Veggies, and Greens…if They Need It

Most of the produce you bring into your home will need to be washed prior to being used and remembering to do this helps protect your family from food borne illness that can be lurking on the surface.  Make sure you do this, even if it is something you are going to peel before using like an apple or a melon, as those illness-causing microorganisms can be transferred from the skin to the flesh when you peel them or cut into them with a knife.  The one exception is the ready-to-eat leafy greens that come in plastic tubs or bags from the grocery store.  These have been pre-washed and you are better off not washing them as you are more likely to introduce a contaminant than to gain any benefit.

If you don’t have any fancy fruit wash, simply soaking the fruit in vinegar for a short time will accomplish the same goal.

Keep Cold Cold and Hot Hot

This is the most common tip to help you avoid food borne illness and it simply means that if something is served cold it needs to stay cold and if it is served hot it need to stay hot.  Using small serving bowls placed in larger bowls of ice is one way to accomplish this.  You can also serve foods that need to be kept cold out of a cooler.

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Are You One of the New Faces of Farming and Ranching?

Arizona Farmer

Make sure you submit this application if you’re a new face of farming and ranching. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is on a nationwide search for the new “Faces of Farming & Ranching.”  These stand-out farmers and ranchers will put a real face on American agriculture and help educate the general population about the importance of American agriculture.  Those selected will participate in special events, be featured in media coverage and advertising, and play a role in other marketing and promotional activities.

The USFRA is looking for farmers and ranchers who are:

  • proud of what they do
  • eager to share their experiences in agriculture
  • interested in sharing stories of continuous improvements
  • active on social media

If this sounds like you, make sure you apply once the contest opens on July 10.  Entries can be submitted until August 10.  It doesn’t matter what you grow.  It doesn’t matter what you raise.  You don’t have to be a small family operation or a large commercial entity.  The contest is open to farmers and ranchers of all types who use a variety of methods and operate farms and ranches of all sizes.  Individuals, couples, and families can apply to be one of the new “faces” this year and farmers and ranchers from all areas of the country are encouraged to apply.

To apply, visit here and complete the application process.  This includes:

  • Completing the application which includes:
    • Providing information about your farm or ranch like its history and  what you grow/raise today
    • Explaining what kind of improvements you have made to your operation
    • How you currently work to tell your story to the general public
    • What you would like to accomplish if you are chosen as a Face of Farming and Ranching
    • How active you are on social media
    • Explaining your experience with public speaking and any media experience
    • Two professional references
  • Completing the entry form
  • Submitting a 3 minute video showcasing your operation and the role you play in that operation

The deadline to apply is August 10, 2014 at midnight Central time.

Finalists will be selected from all entries by the USFRA and announced in early September.  The criteria for selecting finalists may include:

  • Personality
  • Story
  • Camera presence
  • Experience
  • Social media prowess
  • Region
  • Farm product factors (to ensure balance among finalists and potential winners).

Voting by the general public will be conducted at the end of October and the beginning of November.

Each person selected to be one of the “Faces of Farming & Ranching” will receive a $15,000 stipend and the opportunity to share the stories of real farmers and ranchers with a national audience.

For more information about the contest, visit the content information page.

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July is the Month for Red, White, and….Blueberries

blueberry blueberries

Don’t miss these delicious ways to eat blueberries! (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

If you are looking for a great summer treat that isn’t too sweet, blueberries might be the best snack around.  These little round purple-blue berries are a great healthy option for breakfast, snacks, dessert and even as part of a meal.   Blueberries provide a high dose of antioxidants and research has shown they can provide benefits in bone health, cholesterol control, and improving cardiovascular health.

With so many health benefits, it is easy to see why blueberries make such a great addition to our daily diet.  It isn’t everyday you find something that is good for you that everyone in the family will love to eat.  July is National Blueberry Month and since they are in season here in Arizona, they should be easy to find at farmers markets and in grocery stores.  To help you fill your plates with plump, juicy blueberries this month, here are some great ways to use them at every meal.

  1. Blueberry Muffins
  2. Boss’s Baked French Toast
  3. Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes
  4. Blueberry Soda
  5. Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze Recipe
  6. Blueberry Crumb Cake
  7. Blueberry Shortbread Bars
  8. Super Summer Kale Salad
  9. Maras Blueberry Chutney
  10. Blueberry Buckle
  11. Blueberry Pie
  12. Blueberry Banana Bread
  13. Blueberry Nectarine Cobbler
  14. Blackberry and Blueberry Pie
  15. Red White and Blue Strawberry Shortcake
  16. Cherry Blueberry Pie
  17. Blueberry Lime Jam
  18. Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce
  19. Peach Berry Cobbler
  20. Blueberry Turnovers
  21. Blueberry Blast Smoothie
  22. Blueberry Compote
  23. Blueberry Ice Cream
  24. Grilled Salmon Steak with Savory Blueberry Sauce
  25. Spinach Salad with Berries and Curry Dressing
  26. Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Ice Pops
  27. Blueberry Walnut Salad
  28. Blueberry Ricotta Squares
  29. Blueberry Lemon Crumb
  30. Blueberry Cheesecake Bars 
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31 Ways to Fill Your Plate with Arizona Eats

Celebrate these July Food Holidays with these delicious recipes (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Celebrate these July Food Holidays with these delicious recipes (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

The only July holiday most people celebrate is the 4th of July but you can turn the entire month into a celebration of locally raised and grown Arizona foods. The month of July features a delicious food holiday on each of its 31 days and who doesn’t love to celebrate fresh, fabulous food. Here is the list of the fun July food holidays and some ideas of how to turn these holidays into a month long celebration of the best of what Arizona farmers and ranchers have to offer.

July 1: Creative Ice Cream Flavor DayTry making Avocado and Pistachio Ice Cream

July 2: National Anisette DaySweet Spiced Chicken with Anisette

July 3: Eat Beans DayRanch Beans and Chicken

July 4: National Barbecued Spareribs DayBasic Barbecue Ribs

July 5: National Apple Turnover DayApple Turnovers

July 6: National Fried Chicken DayCrispy Fried Chicken

July 7: National Strawberry Sundae DayStrawberry Sundae Sauce

July 8: National Chocolate with Almonds DayChocolate Almond Bark

July 9: National Sugar Cookie DayChewy Sugar Cookies

July 10: Pick Blueberries DayBoss’s Baked French Toast

July 11: National Blueberry Muffin DayBlueberry Muffins

July 12: National Pecan Pie DayIrresistible Pecan Pie

July 13: National French Fries DayHomemade Crispy Seasoned French Fries

July 14: Bastille Day - Ratatouille

July 15: National Tapioca Pudding Day – Classic Tapioca Pudding

July 16: National Corn Fritters DayCorn Fritters

July 17: National Peach Ice Cream Day – Peach Ice Cream

July 18: National Caviar DayCaviar Pie

July 19: National Daiquiri Day – Best Strawberry Daiquiri

July 20: National Ice Cream Soda DayOld Fashioned Ice Cream Soda

July 21: National Ice Cream DayAvocado and Pistachio Ice Cream

July 22: National Penuche Fudge Day – Buttery Penuche Brown Sugar Fudge

July 23: National Hot Dog DaySonoran Hot Dogs

July 24: National Tequila DayTequila Lime Wings

July 25: National Hot Fudge Sundae DayHot Fudge Sundae Recipe

July 26: National Coffee Milkshake Day Mexican Coffee Milkshake

July 27: National Crème Brûlée Day Crème Brûlée

July 28: National Milk Chocolate Day – Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake

July 29: National Lasagna DayWorld’s Best Lasagna

July 30: National Cheesecake DayPrickly Pear Cheesecake

July 31: National Raspberry Cake DayRaspberry Buttermilk Cake

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50 Fabulous Ways to Use Eggplant


Don’t miss trying one (or more) of these 50 ways to prepare eggplant (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

One of the great things about having such amazing access to fresh, locally grown produce is being able to find something new to try from the farmers’ market or grocery store bins.  Trying new things helps expand your family’s food vocabulary and everyone wins when you use Arizona grown food to fill your plate.

This month we wanted to feature eggplant, which is so versatile and yet, so underused.  If you are looking for something new to cook on the grill, toss in a salad, or steam for a side, eggplant is a delicious, healthy option.  To help inspire you to give this beautiful purple veggie a try, here are 50 different things you can do with eggplant!

1.    Ratatouille
2.    Eggplant Sandwiches
3.    Spicy Eggplant
4.    Eggplant Parmesan with Homemade Sauce
5.    Vegetarian Four Cheese Lasagna
6.    Eggplant Lasagna
7.    Szechwan Eggplant
8.    Eggplant Tomato Bake
9.    Chinese Eggplant Fries
10.  Baingan Bharta Eggplant Curry
11.   Moussaka
12.  Eggplant Croquettes
13.  Grilled Eggplant Salad
14.  Deep Fried Eggplant
15.  Marrakesh Vegetable Curry
16.   Hot and Sour Chinese Eggplant
17.   Cheesy Baked Eggplant
18.   Grilled Eggplant and Goat Cheese Salad
19.   Middle Eastern Fire Roasted Eggplant Dip
20.  Grilled Japanese Eggplant
21.  Crispy Eggplant
22.  Roasted Eggplant with Garlic
23.  Penne with Eggplant Sauce
24.  Eggplant Schnitzel and Roasted Red Peppers
25.  Easy Fried Eggplant
26.  Sausage Stuffed Eggplant
27.  Grilled Mediterranean Vegetable Sandwich
28.  Summer Vegetable Ratatouille
29.  Indian Eggplant
30.  Grilled Eggplant, Tomato, and Goat Cheese
31.   Tater Dipped Eggplant
32.  Olive Oil Roasted Eggplant with Lemon
33.  Quinoa Roasted Eggplant and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette
34.  Mini Eggplant Parmesan
35.  Eggplant Meatballs
36.  Eggplant and Zucchini Roll-ups
37.  Rich and Creamy Roasted Eggplant Soup
38.  Rigatoni with Eggplant Mushrooms and Goat Cheese
39.  Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
40.  White Bean and Roasted Eggplant Hummus
41.  Eggplant and Tofu Curry
42.  Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Stacks
43.  Roasted Eggplants and Herbs
44.  Turkey Burgers with Roasted Eggplant
45.  Falafel Stuffed Eggplant
46.  Barley Risotto with Eggplant and Tomatoes
47.  Sausage Eggplant Penne
48.  Eggplant Bolognese
49.  Eggplant Involtini
50.  Eggplant, Capers, and Red Peppers


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