Picnic Safety

Summer has officially arrived! Like many of you, I like spending time outdoors especially having cookouts, picnics and other activities centered around food. Good food, fun, and family are my summer favorites. But before planning any outdoor food activity, here are a few simple tips to consider to ensure that unwanted bacteria won’t have a place at the table.

Wash Hands Often Bring moist towelettes or soap and water to clean your hands and surfaces often. Also, make sure your cooler is clean.

Keep Raw Meats, Poultry, Seafood and Eggs and Ready-to- Eat Foods Separate
Bring extra plates — one for handling raw foods and another for cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination.
Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
Don’t reuse marinade used on raw meat or poultry unless boiled.
Properly packing a cooler can help reduce cross-contamination that might lead to food poisoning.

Cook to Proper Temperatures
Cook your favorite foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer; hamburger to at least 160°F and chicken breasts to 165°F.
Never partially grill meat or poultry to finish cooking later.

Refrigerate Promptly below 40°F
Pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs to keep the temperature below 40°F.
Transport the cooler in the back seat of your air-conditioned car instead of in your hot trunk.
Remove from the cooler only the amount of raw meat that will fit on the grill.
Defrost meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator before taking them to the grill.
Don’t leave food outside in hot weather (90°F or above) for more than one hour.

Enjoy!

Stephanie

Stephanie is an Extension Associate for NC EFNEP.

Source: http://www.eatright.org/resource/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/outdoor-dining/keep-your-picnic-safe

 

Healthy eating on a budget!

Eating healthy on a budget can be really hard, especially if you’re paying for rent, gas, and other necessities. However, it can be done. The first step to successfully budgeting a healthy meal is to just create a game plan for your groceries. Research and look up tips for healthy, low-cost meals and master the skill of finding the best deals on items.

Shopping smart is the key to eating healthy on a budget. Realizing that the “unit price” is the better option for you can be beneficial in the long run. Reading each food label can also help make decisions easier when being mindful of healthiness. Each aisle of the grocery store has deals and discounts. Finding those will also benefit anyone on a budget. Preparing healthy meals can be easier by using kitchen timesavers. This makes it easier because you can make meals faster and more efficiently. Looking up new recipes to try can also help make things less complicated. Plus, this can bring a family together by introducing new things to meals.
There are plenty of budget-friendly recipes to choose, from a slow-cooked beef stew to summer chicken spring rolls; there are a variety of healthy recipes that factor in a budget. There are other options such as a grilled salmon, avocado salad and pesto chicken kabobs.

There are even tofu stir-fry options for those who are vegetarians. Making menus for every 2-weeks is also a budget-conscious habit that can save money and benefit health-wise. Keeping grocery and pantry staples lists are also great ideas in following a budget. Referring to the ChooseMyPlate model can also be informative on which food groups are needed in each meal. Utilizing your resources such as SNAP-ED and FNS can also help save money and accomplish healthy meal preparation.

Enjoy!

Taylor

Taylor is a student intern working with EFNEP at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Pitt County Center.

RESOURCE:

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget
http://www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/recipes/budget-friendly.html 

 

The cheapest way to improve your health, drink water!

 

Lucky for us, in America water is free just about anywhere you go. Drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages will not only help your wallet but could help to improve your health.

Although there are currently no set requirements for water consumption, the Food and Nutrition Board recommends that the average women consume 91 ounces daily (about 11 cups) and men consume 125 ounces daily (about 15 cups). (Certain groups may require higher intake levels, check with your doctor for more information).

This may seem unattainable to some but don’t worry, typically 20% of this amount is consumed within the foods you eat. With this in mind, women should aim to drink 8 cups of water-based beverages daily and men, 12 cups. This may still seem like a daunting task for some, below are some tips to include healthy drinks into your daily routine.

  1. Reusable water bottles can be a good way to encourage water consumption.
    Tip: Look for a 16-ounce water bottle and every refill counts as 2 cups!
  2. Infuse your water with your favorite fruits and herbs. See the recipe below to get you started.
    Tip: Freeze fruits when they are in season, and usually a great deal. Once you need them they can serve to flavor your water and help keep it cold!
  3. Soda-lover? Try switching to seltzer water or club soda. Look in your grocery store for calorie-free, carbonated drinks, available in a variety of flavors.
    Tip: Most restaurants have club soda available on draft, just ask!
  4. Attention caffeine-lovers: coffee and tea count towards your daily intake as well! Take it easy on the cream and sugar and these drinks can be a healthy way to reach your recommendations.
    Tip: As a Northern originally, I am allowed to say that tea does not always have to be sweet…sorry! Try different flavors and make it hot or iced. My new favorite is honey vanilla chamomile!

Try this: Strawberry Mint Water: -1/2 Cup frozen strawberries -1/4 Cup fresh mint -8 ounces water -Combine all ingredients in a cup or water bottle.

Enjoy!!

Megan
Megan is the Adult EFNEP Program Assistant in Orange County Cooperative Extension.

Source: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-make-better-beverage-choices

Are canned fruits and vegetables healthy?

 

My husband, who grew up in rural North Carolina spent many of his summers with his grandfather. He saw acres of farmland with fresh vegetables including cabbages, collards, green beans, okra, field peas, squash, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, Muscadine grapes, peaches, etc. He and his grandfather would get up early in the mornings to gather the crops. Some would be used for daily meals while others were canned and frozen by his grandmother, sold at the farmer’s market, and given to needy families. They would do this every day until it was time to replant for the next season.

While many of us don’t have access to a large family garden for fresh fruits and vegetables, there are still many available healthy canned options.

Researchers at Michigan State University found that canned fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as frozen or fresh. For canned tomatoes in particular, canning improves the content of B vitamins, vitamin E and carotenoids compared to fresh. Fiber in beans becomes more soluble through the canning process,  and thus more useful to the human body. Additionally, a nationally represented survey of American adults found that adults and children who frequently eat canned foods (6 or more items over 2 weeks) have healthier eating habits compared to those who eat 1-2 canned food items in the same time period.  

Eat the fruits and vegetables you prefer whether canned, fresh, frozen or dried. Canned foods simply make healthy eating easy. Canned fruits and veggies are convenient to have in your pantry for times you can’t get to the store; they can even be kept at work (with a can opener) for a quick lunch or an afternoon snack. Since they don’t expire quickly, you won’t waste money when buying canned veggies – which sometimes happens with fresh produce that goes bad. Here are a few tips when buying canned fruit and vegetables:

Watch for sodium:
Sodium is usually added to canned foods to preserve them. Look for low-sodium, reduced-sodium or no-salt-added labeled foods. Compare the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label and choose the product with the lowest amount. Drain and rinse canned veggies to reduce sodium even more.

Watch for added sugar: Look for fruit that’s canned in water, its own juice, or light syrup (drain and rinse).

Delicious uses:

  • Add drained cans of corn, tomatoes and pinto beans or any other vegetable to low-sodium chicken broth for a super-fast and filling vegetable soup.
  • Use a blender, food processor or a fork to smash drained and rinsed garbanzo beans, northern beans, or any beans into a bean dip for baby carrots; add a little lemon juice and garlic powder for some zip.
  • Serve canned fruit as a dessert topped with low-fat, no sugar-added yogurt; or top whole grain cereal with canned fruit.

You can feel confident that canned fruits and vegetables are nutritious, safe and full of flavor. Fill up your pantry with your favorite canned produce to help you prepare nutritious, quick everyday meals for your family more often while saving time and money.

ENJOY!!
Stephanie

Sources: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyCooking/Fresh-Frozen-or-Canned-Fruits-and-Vegetables-All-Can-Be-Healthy-Choices_UCM_459350_Article.jsp#.Vp0xBVMrJmA
http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/canned-fruits-and-vegetables-are-good-for-you

 

 

Happy Bean Day!

Today is National Bean Day. Beans (or legumes) are packed with vitamins, minerals, are an excellent source of protein, and low in fat. Additionally, beans are high in fiber. Research has shown that beans may lower blood sugar which helps in the management of type 2 diabetes. It also can lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides. For some, eating beans can cause uncomfortable gas. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce the gaseous after effects.

beans legumes

-Soak your beans for 12 to 24 hours. This reduces a good amount of the indigestible part of the bean.

-Know your beans. Some beans, like adzuki, mung beans, lentils, split peas, and black-eyed peas produce less gas than others. High gas producing beans include lima, pinto, whole soy beans, and navy beans.

-Add beans to your diet slowly so your body can get used to the fiber. Start off with small portions once or twice a week and slowly increase your intake.

-Chew your beans thoroughly to help break them down for digestion.

And finally, you can always take Beano or other gas busting tablets to reduce gas production.

So in honor of National Bean Day, prepare a bean dish today! You can find delicious recipes at the US Dry Bean Council website or the Bean Institute website.

One of my favorites (because it’s super easy) is the Breakfast Bean Burrito. See the recipe below.

Breakfast-Bean-Burrito-with-Eggs

Breakfast Bean Burrito

Ingredients
1 -10” flour tortilla, plain or whole wheat
3/4 cup canned, drained, and rinsed reduced sodium black or pinto beans
1 scrambled egg
¼ cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons of your favorite salsa

Directions
1. Lay the tortilla on a dinner plate.
2. Place the beans in the center, top with the scrambled egg, cheese and salsa.
3. Fold in the ends, and then roll up to form a burrito.
4. Microwave for 45-60 seconds.

Suggested Serving: Add additional salsa and/or plain, low-fat Greek yogurt for extra flavor and protein!

-Lisa

Source: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/recipe-for-health-cheap-nutritious-beans-201211305612

Canned Fruits and Vegetables

The majority of the fruits and vegetables I purchase are canned. There are always good sales on these items and I have more dry storage space than refrigerated storage. I always read the label to be sure I’m buying vegetables that are low to no sodium and that canned fruit are packed in juice. If I can’t find these, I simply pour the canned item into a colander and rinse off the extra sugar or salt.

canned fruits and veg

(Image courtesy of xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Some of my favorite ways to use canned fruits and vegetables are to microwave canned apples (drained and rinsed) and sprinkle it with cinnamon. I also love to add mandarin orange slices to salads, canned beans to sloppy Joes, and canned mixed vegetables to many of my casserole recipes. Adding canned fruits and vegetables to recipes are a quick and inexpensive way to make meals more nutritious!

Read here for 10 ways to enjoy canned vegetables.

-Judy