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

 

Food-Themed Calendar For Summer

Getting ready for summer can mean plenty of things such as buying sunscreen, bathing suits, and shorts. But getting ready for summer can also mean looking at a monthly food calendar as well. There are national food days along with national food weeks and months.

Egg day is June 3 and there are many ways to celebrate and create your own recipes. There are deviled eggs recipes, egg salad sandwich recipes that enhance flavor, ham and egg frittatas, microwave omelets and scrambled eggs, and even tips on preparing eggs. These recipes and tips are useful in helping people avoid making a green ring around a hard-boiled egg, how to make homemade ice cream without raw eggs in it, and how to crack the date code on egg cartons. These tips and techniques are very helpful, especially on Egg Day, June 3.

Cheese Day is June 4th and is celebrated by making easy black beans and cheese quesadillas, vegetable cheese quesadillas, and spaghetti pie. There are multiple ways to use cheese in various recipes and there are also tips on how to freeze different types of cheeses, what the best types of cheeses are to freeze, how cheese is made, and even how it can be used for healthy eating.

A day kids and parents can enjoy together will be June 7 which is Chocolate Ice Cream Day. Kids will have fun helping parents make old-fashioned chocolate ice cream and can even learn how to make homemade ice cream without using raw eggs. This is very useful, especially if a family is vegan or does not eat eggs. This could also be useful if they wanted to cut down on egg consumption as well.

A fun way to spice things up on June 10 is by adding herbs and spices for flavor in foods without the added calories! There are many healthy cooking recipes that involve fresh herbs and since herbs are in season in the springtime, it is a great way to enjoy the flavor of foods. Not only do herbs and spices add flavor, but they can also be combined with different types of foods. There are herb and food combination charts and seasoning mixes to make for Herb & Spices Day as well.

For those who are new to cooking and who have been making attempts, there is even a day for you! Kitchen Klutzes of America day is June 13 and this day is dedicated to anyone who has made a mess in the kitchen. There are multiple lessons to make recipes successful and to make sure it is not a recipe for disaster. There are even newsletters including easy to-do recipes for kids as well.

Newsletters about physical activity are also available to these kitchen klutzes and how to get involved in some family fun on the run.

For veggie lovers, June 17 is national Eat Your Vegetables Day. There are tips and tricks on how to add more vegetables to your day and for help eating vegetables along with quick, easy recipes that make vegetables taste great. Making baked kale chips, black bean & corn salsa, foil-baked veggies, roasted baby carrots with garlic, vegetable pasta salad, and roasted broccoli and red peppers are all great ways to make the flavor of your vegetables pop! These are great recipes and easy ways to incorporate higher vegetable consumption, which will benefit health-wise. For those who love the outdoors, International Picnic Day is June 18. This is a great way to get outside and celebrate the beautiful weather. There are grilling tips on how to grill meats and vegetables properly and since Herbs & Spices Day has taught you ways on how to season, this would be a great opportunity to put that to use while grilling meats or veggies. There are also resources to use for practicing good food safety while having a delicious picnic as well. Keeping foods fresh and in the right temperature is highly important.

The First Day of Summer is June 20th and a great way to celebrate is by hosting a family and friends barbecue. Knowing barbecue safety practices will help things go smoothly. Cleaning, separating, cooking and chilling the meats properly will make the barbecue twice as delicious and fun. If you and the kids decide to go camping, there are even ways to eat healthy in the wilderness. Making foil packet potatoes on a camping trip could really bring the family together. There are also ways to handle food safely on the road and practice good food safety that way as well, such as planning ahead by bringing a cooler

Men’s Health Week is June 13th-June 19th Men’s Health Week is established for the purpose of raising the awareness of preventable health issues and the diagnoses and treatment of disease in boys and men. This week leads up to Father’s Day and educational newsletters are available online. There is also a Men’s Health Month as well.

There are many months and times to be celebrated such as Beef Steak Month, Dairy Month, Ice Tea Month, Vegetable and Fresh Fruit Month, Papaya Month, and Turkey Lover’s Month. There are recipes for each month available online and tips and tricks for these as well. For more information on how to celebrate the national food days, weeks, and months, visit the site listed in the references.

Taylor Davis

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

Source: For more information on daily, weekly, or monthly food calendars and recipes, check out this site :http://food.unl.edu/june-food-calendar#summer

 

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

Tips to Increase your Children’s Physical Activity over the Summer

Are your kids inside playing on their electronic devices and not outside playing in the sun and fresh air? As difficult as it might seem, you can change that! Use the Internet yourself to find sites that offer creative ideas to get your kids outside and moving.

The National Wildlife Federation’s Website is loaded with ideas for children of any age. Activities listed even include an educational component that will allow your kids to become more cognizant of their natural surroundings. The site’s home page is loaded with options. Choose those that best suit your family’s interests. Click here to get started: http://www.nwf.org/Kids/Family-Fun/Family-Fun-Search.aspx . The links below were some that interested me the most!

children-802332_640These are some examples of simple activities that can be done with your children right in your own yard or neighborhood.

For those families that have children interested in technology, try teaming that indoor interest with outdoor activity ideas. From 6 to 16 (and older!), your kids will find these activities to be both challenging and fun. You might even want to get involved!

  • Geocashing. Learn more about this activity at: http://www.nwf.org/kids/family-fun/outdoor-activities/geocaching.aspx and https://www.geocaching.com/play . Stash the items being hunted in places that require some active movement to reach. Climbing, running, jumping and stretching are all physically active movements that can help your kids stay in shape over the summer.
  • Camera scavenger hunt. An old flip phone, smartphone or digital camera can be used in this activity. Although the description is written as a party idea it can be scaled it down significantly to create a fun family activity. Let the kids choose the items to hunt or the types of photos to shoot. Hint: Encourage “physically active” shots of them and/or their friends participating in any kind of sport or activity – baseball, soccer, roller skating or riding a bike. This is a great summer “staycation” activity. http://www.nwf.org/kids/family-fun/outdoor-activities/camera-scavenger-hunt.aspx .

There are many, many more activities that can be found on the National Wildlife Federation’s Website. But, don’t stop there! The Internet is full of creative and inexpensive ideas that can get your children moving this summer. It just takes a few minutes to make sure your kids enjoy outdoor memories this summer like you had when you were young.

-Virginia

Enjoy the weather and play outside with your children

Feb 6 post

When I was a child, we played outside all the time. We just knew we had to be home by the time the streetlamps came on or we were in big trouble!  We rode our bikes all over the neighborhood, playing cops and robbers, watching the train flatten our pennies on the railroad tracks and simply having fun with minimal supervision.

Today, it’s a different world, but our children still need to play outside. Playing outside enables children to use their imagination and use those little gray cells in their brain and exercise the muscles in their body rather than being passively entertained by video games.   Spend time outdoors with your children teaching them some of the fun low-tech games you played as a child.  Remember Red Rover, Mother May I, Dodge Ball, Freeze Tag,  jump rope, hopscotch, Hide and Seek, Simon Says?  Other great outdoor activities that you can do with your children include roller skating, horseback riding, fishing, flying a kite, swimming, and hiking.

If you still want to incorporate some technology in your outdoor fun check out geocaching.  Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.  Check it out at www.geocaching.com.  Whatever you choose, choose to play outdoors with your whole family.

Share with us some of your favorite things to do with your family outdoors.

Suzanne