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buffetAs we enter the holiday season, we are often participating in pot-luck celebrations at work and dinners with family and friends. What are some steps we can take to help avoid food borne illnesses at these happy occasions?

If you are the one preparing the food, remember the four basic food safety rules: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill. By following these four simple rules, you can help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria which could make your family ill and make your holidays less than jolly!

  • Clean. Begin by washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food. Be sure that countertops, cutting boards and utensils are clean by washing with hot soapy water. Rinse fruits and vegetables that are not being cooked under cool running water.
  • Separate. Help prevent cross contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry and seafood away from ready to eat foods in your shopping cart and your refrigerator. Use one cutting board for these raw foods and another for salads and ready to eat food.
  • Cook. Use a food thermometer to tell if a food is cooked to a safe temperature – just going by color is not sufficient. Always bring sauces, soups, etc to a rolling boil when reheating. If using a microwave oven, cover, stir and rotate the food to ensure even cooking.
  • Chill.  Remember the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow rapidly, 40° – 140°F. Keep the refrigerator below 40°F., use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature. Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter. After the meal, chill leftover foods within 2 hours and put food into shallow containers to allow for quick cooling.

If you are participating in a pot-luck lunch at work or school, there are some things to keep in mind for food safety. The most important rule to follow is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold! Avoid the “danger zone”! It is often a good idea to appoint one person to make sure that foods are being kept at a safe temperature.

  • Foods that are to be served hot should be kept above 140°F.
  • Cold foods should be kept below 40°F.
  • Make sure that the surfaces where food will be served are clean.
  • Do not allow food to sit out for over 2 hours.
  • Any food that has not been kept at a safe temperature should be discarded after 2 hours.

So enjoy the holidays and the events that accompany them while keeping yourself, your family, friends and co-workers safe from food borne illness.

Sources:

Safe Food Handling Factsheets http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling

Be Food Safe   www.befoodsafe.org 

EXTENSION CONNECTION: Keeping Food Safe (pot luck party tips) http://www.crestviewbulletin.com/news/community/extension-connection-keeping-food-safe-potluck-party-tips-1.56092?page=2 

Author: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

Reviewer: Linette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

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Need more energy? Have this energy drink. If you are playing a sport, you need a sports drink. Really, do we need sport or energy drinks, vitamin waters, or fruit flavored drinks? The advertisers claim we need them. What is truth and what is hype? sports beverages

• Sports drinks are not necessary unless you are engaging in continuous, vigorous activity for more than 60 minutes in hot weather. Most sports drinks have lots of sugar and calories. Most of us don’t need the extra nutrients, electrolytes and/or protein as your diet usually provides what is needed. Water is the best drink for rehydrating, which is what your body needs. Sports drinks increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, dental caries and cardiovascular disease. Low-fat or fat-free milk can be a better option to drink when engaging in sports or physical activity to regain what you have lost.

• Energy drinks are not needed and may over-stimulate the cardiovascular and nervous system causing some detrimental effects. Most energy drinks have high amounts of caffeine and other stimulates. Energy drinks can be dangerous for people with unknown heart issues. Energy drinks are not safe for youth. In fact, studies have shown youth who drink energy drinks are less able to concentrate and may have a slower reaction speed. Extra vitamins in energy drinks do not really help your body. Energy drinks have been associated with many health concerns such as increased blood pressure, sleep problems, seizure activity, heart arrhythmia and others. Avoid powdered caffeine which is very dangerous.

• Vitamin waters have added vitamins which are better obtained by eating vegetables and fruits. These drinks also contain added sugar and sodium. Don’t pay the high price tag for these which also increase the risk of obesity. Eat a healthy diet and drink water.

• Fruit flavored drinks tend to be high in added sugar and other ingredients. Some of the herbal fruit flavored drink ingredients have not been researched on children. These drinks also increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, dental caries and cardiovascular disease.glass of iced tea

• Sweetened teas and coffee drinks have added sugar and carry the same health risks as sports drinks. They also can cause sleep disturbances and nervous problems in youth and adults.

Beverage manufactures are trying to convince us that they are providing us with “ready-to-go” attractive beverages. Most of the health claims on the bottles cannot be proven true and the added sugars increase the risk of diabetes and obesity.

Drink water!
It is the best drink. Other recommended choices include nonfat or low-fat milk and 100% fruit or vegetable juice in small amounts. Eat a healthy diet, and you will have the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy.

Writer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

References:
Center for Weight and Health, (2014). Hiding Under a Health Halo, University of California at Berkeley, Available at: http://www.publichealthadvocacy.org/healthhalo.html
Nelson, J. and Zeratsky, K. (2010). Milk Joins the Roster of Sports Drinks, Mayo Clinic, Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/sports-drinks/bgp-20056125
Nutrition Action, (2014). Caffeine in Food – Caffeine Content of Drinks Revealed! Available at http://nutritionaction.com/daily/caffeine-in-food

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Next to football, my favorite thing about fall is apples!  I have my personal favorite variety; what’s yours? Here are a few facts about apples:

  • Nutrition – We all know, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.”, but do you know why? Apples are delicious, easy to carry for snacking, low in calories (about 80), and they are still very inexpensive. Apples have 4 grams of fiber, including both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber actually helps to prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the incident of atherosclerosis and heart disease. The insoluble fiber in apples provides bulk in the intestinal tract, holding water to cleanse and move food quickly through the digestive system.  It is best to eat apples with their skin. Almost half of the vitamin C content is just underneath the skin and eating the skin also increases insoluble fiber content.  For complete apple nutrition facts, check out this site: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/apples/nutrition.cfm
  • Varieties – Did you know there are more than 7,500 varieties of apples worldwide? How do you ever decide which one becomes a favorite or which one is best for a particular purpose? Apple varieties have different qualities. Apples can be sweet, tart, soft and smooth or crisp and crunchy, depending on the one you choose. Some are perfect for baking, others work better for salads, and some are ideal for eating fresh off the tree. For example, Jonathans are tart, great for baking or eating. Honeycrisps are sweet, crisp, and delicious for eating. Galas are sweet, good for, eating, or salads.  Granny Smith apples are tart and great for baking.  Here is a  wonderful guide to help you know which varieties are best for what you plan to do: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1402.html
  • The Best Place to Buy Apples – If you have the chance, there are benefits to buying your apples locally.
    • Locally grown food is full of flavor.
    • Eating local food is eating seasonally.
    • Local food has more nutrients.
    • Local food supports the local economy.
    • Local food benefits the environment.
    • Local foods promote a safer food supply.
    • Local growers can tell you how the food was grown.

When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about that food. To find a Farmer’s Market in your area that sells apples, the Ohio Proud website will allow you to enter your county and find a place to buy apples close by. See: http://ohioproud.org/searchmarkets.php

  • A Recipe – Fall is a good time to enjoy this recipe for Apple Salad:

3 med apples (unpeeled), cut in chunks

1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1/4 cup celery, diced

2 T raisins

3 T plain yogurt

2 t mayonnaise

1 T pineapple juice

1/8 t cinnamon

Combine apples, pineapple, celery, and raisins. Mix yogurt, mayonnaise, pineapple juice and cinnamon together and blend into other ingredients. Yield: Four 1 cup servings. Calories: 121 per serving.

Written by: Kathryn K Dodrill, MA, CFCS, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Washington County

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ross County

Sources:

Apple Nutrition, http://urbanext.illinois.edu/apples/nutrition.cfm

Apple Varieties, http://www.bestapples.com/varieties/index.aspx

Suggested Uses for Ohio Apples, http://www.ohioapples.com/ohio_apples_uses.htm

Apples: A Guide to Selection and Use, http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1402.html

5 A Day Roadside Market Project, http://ohioline.osu.edu/5-a-day/apples.html

Find a Farmer’s Market, http://ohioproud.org/searchmarkets.php

7 Benefits of Eating Local Foods, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/7_benefits_of_eating_local_foods

 

 

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Fall Challenge 2014

Join Ohio State University Extension for a six-week personal wellness challenge. This fall the Live Healthy Live Well challenge for better health will run from September 8-October 19. This is an online challenge designed to help adults get fit by encouraging regular physical activity, healthy eating and wellness tips. This is a free event. Participants will receive e-communications twice weekly sent directly to you from your local OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Professional. This challenge focuses on:

• Organic/natural foods
• Calcium and fiber in your diet
• Superfoods
• Gluten-free and whole grains
• Incorporating fitness into your day
Sign up by following this link to enroll: http://go.osu.edu/Mahoningfall14
Once you register, you will be enrolled and begin receiving e-communications starting the week of September 8, 2014.
We look forward to taking this fall challenge journey together!

Written by: Beth Stefura M Ed, RD,LD, Ohio State University Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, MA, LD, Ohio State University Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

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Grocery store shelfAre you being tricked at the grocery store? Are you sure products you are buying really are as healthy as they claim?

Many consumers are tricked by words on the label and ingredients in food into making choices which cost more money but may not be the healthiest choices. Watch out for these tricks of the trade by companies:

• Companies add vitamins and minerals to junk food or plain water. Thus, junk food appears healthier. Skip expensive waters and drink plain water. If you need vitamins and minerals take a daily vitamin pill.

• Companies use flavorings, colorings and other ingredients to create fake berries or other fruit. Check ingredients to make sure real fruit is in the product.
• Colorings and flavorings are also used in beverage drinks so you will pay more and not realize you are not getting fruit or very little fruit. Read labels to find and buy only 100% juices.

• Monosodiumglutate and hydrolyzed vegetable protein are used so companies can skimp on the real food. These usually help with meaty flavors. Check ingredients to avoid or limit these.

• Transglutaminase (enzyme) allows companies to put some pieces of meat together so it appears as a larger steak. Make sure your steak is one piece of meat.

• Companies want you to drink more soda so they add caffeine as it is mildly addictive. Drink water.

• Carotenoid Colorings such as canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are added to make farmed salmon pinker, so it looks more like expensive wild salmon. Check the ingredients or ask if “wild caught” or “farmed.”

Beware of some words such as “real, fresh, simple, premium and artisanal. “ These words do not have defined meanings in the food industry.

Real conveys the image of no fake or chemical ingredients. However, real doesn’t have to be chemical-free or not be processed food.

Fresh does not have a time period associated with it according to the Food and Drug Administration. Fresh means the food cannot have been frozen or preserved.

Simple can have multiple meanings. We think it means less processed and less ingredients. However, the food can include sugar and fat as part of the ingredients.

Premium is another word that does not have a meaning. It can trick you into thinking you are getting a better product or deal than you are.

Artisanal conveys the image of handcrafted baked goods and cheeses. Many grocery store products labeled “artisanal” are not produced by small-batch producers and may have many ingredients only used by larger producers. Check the ingredient lists.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Fayette County

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Wood County

References:

Jacobson, M. [2014]. Food Safety: Learn More about Food Additives with this Helpful Infographic What are additives used for and which should you avoid? Downloaded from Nutrition Action.Com Downloaded at http://www.nutritionaction.com/daily/food-safety/food-safety-learn-more-about-food-additives-with-this-helpful-infographic/?mqsc=E3775989&utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=Nutrition_Action_Daily_Tips+Nutrition%20Action%20Daily&utm_campaign=2014.07.19%20Daily%20Tip:%20Food%20Safety

Consumer Reports, [2014]. Consumer Reports: New food label gotchas, Downloaded at http://articles.courant.com/2014-07-12/business/hc-ls-consumer-reports-food-gotchas-20140712_1_new-food-label-consumer-reports-food-packaging

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water 2What do you, a tree and a hamster have in common?

You all need water! All living things need water to survive whether they get it from a water fountain, a rain cloud or a little bottle attached to the side of a hamster cage!

How many of you think of a nice, cold glass of water when you need to quench your thirst? Whether we are indoors or out – we need to remember to keep our bodies hydrated and water should be the first thing we reach for. Your body is about 60% water and constantly needs to be replenished. Every cell in your body needs water to function properly.

  • Why water? Well, water does a great job in helping to keep our bodies hydrated without adding any sugar, caffeine or other substances
  • How much? You’ve probably heard for years that we all need 8 glasses of water every day – for a total of 64 ounces. Researchers have pointed out that the need for fluid can vary widely among individuals.
  • Does it have to be “plain” water? No, there are many ways to dress up the taste of a glass of water. A fairly common way to flavor the water is to add fruit or vegetable slices – lemons, strawberries, cucumber, etc. You can also add herbs to the water for refreshing drinks. Try a sprig of mint for a refreshing change of taste!
  • Can it help me lose weight? That is a possibility! If you drink a full glass of water before your meal, you may trick your brain into thinking that you are full sooner!       Also, if you substitute water for high calories drinks, you are helping control the number of calories your body is taking in each day.
  • Don’t always rely on your body to tell you that you need some water. When you are hot and sweaty, your thirst mechanism can shut off and you don’t know that you need some fluids. . If our bodies become dehydrated it can lead to physical and mental problems.
  • While water is the best source of fluids for your body, don’t forget that you can count all of the fluids you drink during the day. Many of the fruits and vegetables we eat have high water contents – try watermelon, strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, and celery.
  • Try to keep track of how much water you drink during a typical day. Aiming for the 8 glasses is not a bad thing – just remember that the amount your body needs will vary with your activity level, your body size and the temperature if you are outside and other factors.

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@sou.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, Treber.1@osu.edu

 

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/feel-your-best-with-water

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water

How Much Water Do You Really Need? Health and Nutrition Newsletter: Tufts University. July 2014. Volume 32, No.5

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FoodServingSizesdownload (2)

Many things have changed in the American diet since the Nutrition Facts label was introduced 20 years ago.  The Nutrition Facts Label, introduced in 1993, helps consumers make informed choices and maintain dietary practices. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to update the Nutrition Facts label found on most of the food packages here in the United States.

People today are eating much larger serving sizes than they did years ago.  According to the director of FDA’s Center for Health and Safety and Applied Nutrition, Michael Landa, “Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health concerns.”  The proposed food label changes plan to bring greater attention to serving size requirements and calories. In addition, the proposed changes include requiring information about “added sugars:”   Many experts recommend consuming fewer calories from added sugars because they can decrease the intake of nutrient-rich foods while increasing caloric intake. Another change proposed is to require manufacturers to declare the amount of potassium and Vitamin D on the label. Calcium and iron would continue to be required; however, Vitamins A and C would now be included on a voluntary basis.

Food serving sizes will get a reality check. The proposed changes include changing the serving sizes requirements to adequately reflect how people actually eat and drink today. In the U.S., serving sizes have changed since they were introduced 20 years ago. By law, the label information will be based on what a typical person actually eats, and not what they “should” be eating. Serving sizes will be more realistic and reflect how MUCH people eat at one time.  Furthermore since package size affects how much a person eats and drinks, under the proposed changes, food packages will be required to label as one serving the amount that is typically eaten at one time.  Currently, the label states the number of servings in the package.  For example in the future, a 20 ounce soft drink that is typically consumed in one sitting would be labeled as one serving.   So, under the changes, both a 12 and a 20 ounce bottle would equal one serving, since people usually drink the entirety of either of those sizes in one sitting. Calories and serving sizes will be more prominent on the newly proposed label. This is highly important in addressing public health concerns for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease for our nation.

Written by: Susan Zies, Ohio State University Extension Educator, zies.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Barber Spires, RD, LD, Ohio State University SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, spires.53@osu.edu

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM387431.pdf

http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/labelingnutrition/ucm385663.htm

 

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