How to Avoid Food Poisoning at Home

By Erin Wyatt a Recent ASU Nutrition Student

When we sit down at the kitchen table for dinner, ready to dive into our meal, food poisoning is probably the last thing on our minds. However, this unpleasant, and sometimes fatal, sickness is extremely common, affecting 1 in 6 people each year.1 The good news is that foodborne illnesses are avoidable when proper food handling is applied to the kitchen. To protect yourself and your family, just follow a few simple rules during preparation, cooking, and storing your food.

 

Preparation

Before the cooking process even begins, there are steps to take to prevent foodborne illnesses. One of the most important steps is washing. Washing properly can inhibit bacteria from growing in places that come in contact with your food.2 Below are the items that require attention when safely preparing food.

 

  • Hand washing for at least 20 seconds
  • Cleansing of countertops, utensils, and cutting boards
  • Rinsing fruits and vegetables, even ones that will be peeled2
  • DO NOT wash meat, as bacteria can splatter onto other surfaces2
  • Be sure to keep raw meats and eggs separate from these clean areas1

 

 

 

Serving

Another way to keep food poisoning at bay is to thoroughly cook all of your meats. Everyone thinks they know when their meat is just right, but better safe than sorry when it comes to serving your family. This should be done with the use of a meat thermometer, which can take the guesswork out of wondering if a dish is done cooking, especially when cooking a prime rib. Be sure to check the temperature of the thickest part of the meat to ensure an accurate reading. Below are the correct internal temperatures of different meats, provided by the Center for Disease Control.

 

  • 145°F for whole meats such as beef, veal, lamb, pork, ham, and fish
  • 160°F for ground meats such as beef, veal, pork, and lamb, as well as egg dishes
  • 165°F for all poultry and casseroles

 

Storing

Food safety doesn’t end once the meal is finished. Sometimes after eating or while hosting, the last thing we want to do is get up and clean the kitchen. However, we should at least put away the leftovers if we want to keep any germs from growing on the food. A lot of work went into creating that meal, don’t throw it all away when you can enjoy it again! Bacteria can grow within 2 hours if the food is not refrigerated.

2 This reduces to only 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are over 90°F.2

 

Different foods have a longer shelf life than others. Rather than using your nose to decide if an item has gone bad or not, the USDA has provided a website and handy app for verifying the length of time foods can spend in your pantry or refrigerator. It is called the FoodKeeper App.

 

While most of these suggestions feel like common sense, sometimes we forget the little things while preparing a meal in a hurry. However, these simple rules will help ensure that everyone enjoying your food will be safe from foodborne illnesses. Just be sure to properly prepare, serve, and store your food. The FoodSafety website has a lot of additional information, as well as alerts about food recalls. Happy and healthy eating!

 

Looking for more tips and tricks like this to keep you family happy and healthy? Check out the Fill Your Plate Blog. Looking for some new recipes to try out? Check out the Recipe Section of our website. How about some fresh produce that the whole family will enjoy? Check out the local Farmers Markets near you.

 

References:

  1. Center for Disease Control (2018). Be food safe: Protect yourself from food poisoning. Retrieved February 19, 2019 from https://www.cdc.gov/Features/BeFoodSafe/
  2. Clean (n.d.) Retrieved February 20, 2019 from https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/clean/index.html
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Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit…

By Morgan Crawford a Recent ASU Nutrition Student

 

Beans and legumes have been a staple of many diets throughout the world for centuries. Some of the earliest crops were discovered in Thailand over 9,000 years ago. In Europe, bean harvests occurred much later. The term “bean” refers to an extremely large range of plants that belong to the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family that produce the seeds that we use for food. There is somewhat of a hierarchy of beans—the overarching species is known as the common bean. Just a few of these include string, field, French, and snap beans. Subspecies are those that most commonly come to mind when we think of beans and legumes—navy, pinto, kidney, fava beans, and lentils.

 

I was always confused about the differences between beans and legumes, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this conundrum. We tend to lump the two together and the names are often used interchangeably. Well, I am here to set the record straight and get to the bottom of the confusion.

 

Legumes bear fruit that grow in pods.

One surprising fact is that peanuts aren’t nuts at all! They belong to the legume family!

 

Beans are the seeds from a very large group of plants.

Something interesting about green beans is that they aren’t technically beans! They are classified as legumes!

 

For gardeners, beans and legumes are a perfect solution to small spaces. Unlike gourds, root vegetables, and fruits such as tomatoes, beans and legumes grow upward. Their vertical growth makes for great use of a smaller space. They are ideal for those who are working with a smaller home garden and want to grow to produce efficiently.

 

An up and coming theme in the health industry is sprouting. Of course, the process of sprouting is not a new concept, but the frequency has certainly increased in the last few years. While some might think it is a daunting process, it is actually quite easy to do. This website shares an easy step-by-step way to sprout!

 

It’s probably not a surprise that beans are a healthy addition to any diet. They have been eaten for thousands of years and are still an inexpensive and nutritious stable for people throughout the world. It is well known among vegetarians and vegans that beans are an excellent source of plant protein, and when combined with grains such as rice, form a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids. Beans have also been shown to regulate blood sugar due to their fiber content. Those with diabetes or who are pre-diabetic should increase their intake of beans in order to stabilize blood glucose levels.

 

Heart disease is another health issue that can actually be prevented and treated by diet changes. Lentils, a type of legume, contain magnesium which plays several roles in the body. A few of those are regulation of blood, nutrient, and oxygen flow. With low levels of magnesium, the body is at risk for heart disease, so make sure you’re eating plenty of beans and legumes!

 

Beans also contain a huge array of minerals and vitamins. Some of these include iron, B vitamins, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and potassium.

 

As soon as it starts cooling down, I start thinking of all my favorite soup recipes. For as long as I can remember, my mom has made her famous chili recipe every year for Halloween. It is an inexpensive dish that takes minimal preparation and feeds a crowd. Over the years, I have made it countless times and have put my own twist on the original recipe. Next time you are looking for a warm, comforting dish, here is the recipe for you!

 

Chili Soup Recipe:

1 tbs. olive oil

Pinto beans 1- 15 oz. can (drained and rinsed)

Black beans 1- 15 oz. can

Kidney beans 1- 15 oz. can

Great Northern beans 1- 15 oz. can

1 large onion- diced

1 large carrot- diced

3 cloves garlic- crushed

1/2 cup frozen corn

1/2 packet taco seasoning mix (I use Trader Joe’s brand) *use less if you want a milder chili

Crushed tomatoes with juice 1 -28 oz. can

3 cups vegetable broth

Salt and Pepper to taste

Green onion for garnish

 

Directions:

Finely dice the onion, carrot, and garlic. Heat oil in a large pot. Sautee diced carrot and onion on medium heat until softened. Add crushed garlic and seasoning mix- cook for an additional 30 seconds. Add the beans once they have been drained and rinsed. Pour in vegetable broth, tomatoes, and corn. Add salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high heat until chili comes to a slow boil. Turn temperature down to medium low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish with finely chopped green onion and serve!

 

For more fun articles like this check out the Fill Your Plate Blog. Looking for some fun recipes to try for the family check out our recipe section.

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Tomato Soup

By Alexandra Pettit

It’s that time of year where everyone is catching the ick. A recipe for tomato soup is sure to get you back to feeling better in no time. Tomatoes have many health benefits. Tomatoes can help with bone health because of the amount of vitamin k and calcium. They also help with blood circulation because of the micrograms of selenium.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart tomato juice
  • 1 quart diced tomatoes   (can use rotel tomatoes)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 4 oz cubed cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4  teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 dashes hot sauce (optional)

Spray crockpot with pam then add all of the ingredients. Stir…cook on high for 3-31/2 hours…stir occasionally

Looking for more recipes to make for the family? Check out our recipe session.  Looking for healthy food tips or things to do with the family? Check out the Fill Your Plate Blog.

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How to Eat Healthy in an Airport

By Erin Wyatt A Recent ASU Nutrition Student

 

With the next long holiday weekend approaching in May, you may find yourself in an airport. Therefore, you are more than likely to find yourself delayed in an airport. Chances are, you will need to eat at some point. If you had the forethought, or the time, to pack nutritious snacks, I applaud you. If you did not, I am here to help. It is not always easy to eat healthy in an airport, but you can make the best out of any situation. Whether your choices are a restaurant, fast food, or a newsstand, there are tricks to finding the best food options for you and your family.

Airport Restaurants

If you have a lot of time to kill, you may prefer to sit down at one of the restaurants or bars to have a meal. This will provide you with the greatest variety of options, but also the greatest temptations. Try and stick to the starters and salads portion of the menu or share an entrée if you can. Steer clear of fried items and look for lean protein to fill you up while keeping you comfortable during your journey. Below are a variety of choices that you may see on a typical restaurant menu.

 

Best choices:

  • Hummus appetizer
  • Guacamole appetizer
  • Salad with grilled chicken or fish
  • Turkey burger w/ a salad (instead of French fries)

Worst choices:

  • Jalapeno poppers
  • Fried chicken wings
  • French fries
  • Fried chicken sandwich
  • Macaroni and cheese

 

Fast Food

Eating healthy at a fast food restaurant is no easy task, but sometimes it is the only option available. Some establishments have started including healthier items on the menus, but these foods are not as prominently displayed on their signs and advertising. Therefore, you need to do a bit of searching before placing your order. Some locations make the calories known, use this to your advantage when you can, as certain items that you think might be healthy can pack in some sneaky calories. The same rules apply here as with the restaurants, choose low fat and try and ignore the fried items. Be mindful of all of the extras that come on sandwiches and salads, like heavy sauces, bacon, and cheeses. You may be thinking, what’s left? Check out the best and worst offenders at typical fast food restaurants below.

 

Best choices:

  • Grilled chicken wraps
  • Roasted turkey sandwiches
  • Soups
  • Salads with lean meats and low-fat dressings
  • Baked potato with sour cream
  • Fruit

Worst choices:

  • Double bacon cheeseburger
  • French fries
  • Nachos
  • Fried chicken strips
  • Milkshakes

 

Newsstands

Certain terminals are more bare bones than others or perhaps you only have 5 minutes until boarding, enter the newsstand. These seemingly unappetizing kiosks have more healthy options than you think. Look past all of the tempting candy and choose snacks that will provide more staying power with fiber and protein. Be mindful when reaching for protein bars, as some are full of unnecessary sugars. Feel free to grab a few extra to bring with you on the flight instead of having to resort to in-flight snacks. Below are some of the best and worst choices at the newsstand.

 

Best choices:

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt

Worst choices:

  • Candy
  • Soda
  • Chips
  • Baked goods

 

Travel Smart

So next time you are stranded in an airport, have no fear, healthy food can be found. Whether you have time for a restaurant, stuck with fast food, or need to pop by a newsstand, you do not need to go hungry. Stay away from the fried stuff and sugar and opt for lean meats and vegetables. Also, keep hydrated with plenty of water. This will ensure a comfortable journey. Hopefully, these general guidelines will serve you well when you have some tough food decisions to make. Bon Voyage!

 

Editor’s Note: Watch for an article with advice on meal planning for potential airport delays.

For more articles like this check out our Fill Your Plate Blog. Check out the Farmers Market page to find some of these snacks when you’re not traveling.

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Spring cleaning; how to reuse scraps for homemade cleaning supplies

By Erika Guzman a Recent ASU Nutrition Student

 

Spring may be here, but the weather does not prove anything for many of us! However, if you’re the type that loves to clean out the old musty winter smells and dust, spring cleaning is a wonderful way to refresh your home and clean everything with open windows and a beautiful breeze as the sun shines down on you! But instead of pulling out all of your cleaning supplies, why not try to go green and clean naturally?

 

First, Going green and purchasing ready-to-use green products have a different meaning. “Green” store, bought cleaning supplies usually refers to cleaners with less health and environmental hazards, but it’s quite vague. According to a study with Environmental Health Perspectives journal, products labeled as green and “nontoxic” mean quite the opposite; there’s a high potential that it is indeed toxic. There’s no such thing as nontoxic nor does the word ‘natural’ on cleaning products really mean anything since it is loosely regulated. In cleaning products with scents, they contain similar levels as volatile organic compounds as the traditional, normal products.

 

In short, a lot of products sold as natural, non-toxic, or green cleaners can have chemicals that could trigger respiratory problems. So what makes going green different than buying pre-made products? If you want to stick to the ‘go green’ cleaning movement it’s easy to make your own supplies with staple ingredients from your kitchen, and all of it is strong and cheap! From vinegar to sodas, these ingredients can help you clean tough grimes as well as leave a fresh clean feeling.

 

  • Baking soda: it’s cheap and makes a very effective multi-surface cleaner without damaging surfaces. Mix this with lemons or sprinkle on a damp sponge and it cleans everything well.
  • Vinegar: Vinegar is a strong acid that helps clean rough spots as well as clean stainless steel very well. Malt vinegar can kill the flu virus off of surfaces, so it is believed that vinegar has antibacterial properties.
  • Washing soda or sodium carbonate: These are multipurpose natural cleaners that doubles as a heavy duty degreaser. It cleans off a lot of grime and dirt!
  • Lemons: Lemons are known for their flavor and smell. Because it’s such an acidic fruit, it allows you to clean surfaces and help remove stubborn stains from glass and dinnerware. It also doubles as a cleaning agent with sinks and garbage disposals, leaving a clean smell without the funk.
    • Some basic tips to make a cleaner without a recipe is to combine a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and baking soda. It helps to add salt to a sponge or even the surface of lemon if scrubbing is necessary as you use the cleaning agent.
    • To make a paste, use ½ cup of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of water, and ¼ cup of vinegar; you can play with the consistency by adding more vinegar to ensure the paste you need, depending on the cleaning task.

These are simple ingredients that allow you to create wonderful cleaners for your home. If you want to add a scent, simply add essential oils that double as a cleaning agent, such as tea tree oil or eucalyptus oils. Otherwise, using homemade products allow you to know what goes into your cleaners, reduce exposure to any dangerous chemicals, reduce allergy-causing substances, and allows you to customize what you prefer!

For more articles like this check out our Fill Your Plate Blog. Check out the Farmers Market page to find some of these ingredients.

 

 

 

 

References

 

Dodson, R. E., Nishioka, M., Standley, L. J., Perovich, L. J., Brody, J.G., & Rudel, R. A. (2012).

Endocrine disruptors and asthma-associated chemicals in consumer products.

Environmental Health Perspectives. 120(7): 935-943. Retrieved at

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404651/.

Greatorex, J. S., Page, R. F., Curran, M. D., Digard, P., Enstone, J. E., Wreghitt, T., Powell, P.

P., Sexton, D. W., Vivancos, R., & Nguyen-Van-Tam, J. S. (2010). Effectiveness of

common household cleaning agents in reducing the viability of human influenza A/H1N1.

PLos One. Retrieved at

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0008987.

Watson, S. (2017). Are green cleaners better for you? WebMD. Website. Retrieved at

https://www.webmd.com/asthma/news/20171102/are-green-cleaners-better-for-your-he

alth.

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