Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter food safety

Easter is right around the corner. While Easter celebrations may vary, many of us will enjoy the day with food and possibly Easter egg hunts. Here are some things to remember about food safety for Easter.
  • Always wash your hands before handling eggs, serving food, or eating food.

  • Do not let food sit out for more than two hours at room temperature. Bacteria love growing rapidly at room temperature and can make food unsafe to eat after the two hour mark. Use smaller serving dishes and refill as needed or surround dishes with ice to keep below 40 degrees.

  • Be careful not to crack eggs when dying, hiding, or retrieving them. It is also best to keep them refrigerated until they are to be hidden. If the shells are cracked during hiding or retrieving, it is best to throw those eggs away because bacteria can contaminate through the cracks.

  • If you are planning to eat the eggs after the hunt, the total hiding and hunting time should not exceed 2 hours (or 1 hour if the outside temperature is above 90 degrees). The eggs should be washed, refrigerated, and eaten within 7 days of when they were cooked.

  • If the eggs or any food has been left out for more than 2 hours, it must be thrown away to prevent foodborne illness. If eggs were used as decoration and left at room temperature for 2 hours or more, they also need to be thrown out.

  • If you purchase a ham, pay attention to the label for storage information. It should have a best if used by date for best quality. Leftover cooked ham should be used within 3-4 days or frozen.

  • The American Egg board has easy instructions for hard-boiling eggs.  
Enjoy the Easter holiday with friends and family!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April Cook It Quick newsletter

The April edition of the Cook It Quick newsletter from the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension is now online. There are some GREAT recipes in this issues, so make sure you check it out.

You will find:
  • Jiffy oatmeal crunch (quick, delicious, easy ingredients)
  • Quick black bean soup (only 20 minutes to make)
  • BBQ chicken pizza (BBQ + pizza = tasty!)
  • Apple coffee cake (looks great for breakfast)
  • Stuffed bell pepper (veggies, protein, and grain all in one dish)
  • Bachelor food (good for those hungry men - and women!)
  • Baked lentils casserole (protein-rich and colorful)
  • 20 minute chicken creole (who doesn't love quick meals)
As well as other information on:
  • Measurement equivalents
  • How does your club stack up?
  • How to chill foods properly
  • Safe grocery shopping
This edition is not to be missed - it has something for everybody! Read the April Cook It Quick newsletter from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April 2 is National Walking Day

April 2, 2014 is National Walking Day.  The American Heart Association has designated this day to remind adults to take at least 30 minutes a day to get up and walk.

It is easier to be inactive than it is to be active. Regular activity helps keep bones strong, hearts healthy, muscles strong, improves balance and coordination, keeps cholesterol levels normal, prevents falls, increases energy, prevents weight gain, and makes it easier to do our normal activities of daily living (carrying groceries, going up and down stairs).

Physical activity is vital in enhancing quality of life and maintaining independence. Regular physical activity also helps reduce risk for many diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, some types of cancer, depression, and anxiety. If the benefits of physical activity could be bottled into a medication, adults would be jumping at the chance to take this “miracle” pill!

Add walking to your daily routine to increase your physical activity and enjoy the many benefits of being active.Walking is free, easy to do, and fun! All you need is a safe place to walk, comfortable shoes, and the motivation to get it done.

Warm up by walking slowly for five minutes at the beginning and cool down similarly. Add in some stretches at the end to help improve flexibility. Make sure to walk in safe places (parks, trails, sidewalks) and be careful if you walk near busy areas.

Walking can be done anytime of the day and can be a great way to catch up with a friend or family member. Walking with a partner can not only improve your health, but the health of your partner too. You can help keep each other motivated and accountable. Pets benefit from walking too!

The 2008 Physical Activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes of cardiovascular (aerobic) activity per week. Walking for 30 minutes, five days a week will meet this goal. If you are currently inactive or if that sounds like too much, you can just add in a few minutes of walking here and there. Even an extra trip to the mailbox or an extra trip around the grocery store will add up. Start with a few minutes and increase that amount toward the goal, as you feel comfortable.  

The American Heart Association website has resources available for National Walking Day on their website.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spinach Day

Today (March 26) is Spinach Day. Popeye loved his spinach for a reason. This versatile green can be eaten raw or cooked and used in many different recipes. Here is more about this powerhouse vegetable.

Spinach is much more than just the boring side dish that some of us may think of when we hear this vegetable. Spinach tastes different depending on if it is raw or cooked and how it is seasoned.

Spinach is in season in the spring and fall, from March to June and September to December.

Spinach is packed full of nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and folate. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting. Vitamin A and C are antioxidants, which reduce risk for certain diseases and cancer. Vitamin A also helps with healthy vision and vitamin C helps protect skin from bruises, helps heal cuts, and helps with healthy gums. Calcium and magnesium are needed for healthy bones. Potassium helps lower blood pressure and fiber controls cholesterol and keeps you regular. Folate reduces risk for heart disease and helps prevent birth defects during pregnancy.

Try using raw spinach instead of lettuce in salads or on sandwiches, or add spinach to pasta sauces, soups, stews, or casserole. You can also add spinach to quiche, omelets, or frittatas. If raw spinach is too bitter for your salad, try mixing it with romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce.

Instead of your normal lasagna recipe, try spinach lasagna for dinner. Add spinach to your homemade pizzas. Try sautéing spinach in a skillet with some olive oil and garlic for a side dish.

Monday, March 10, 2014

March Cook It Quick newsletter

The March issue of the Cook It Quick newsletter from the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension is now available!

In this month's issue, you will find:
  • Ideas to go for the green for St. Patrick's Day
  • Roasted sweet potatoes with onions
  • Chocolate chip yogurt cookies
  • Salmon with mustard sauce
  • Making a meal with what's on hand
  • Selecting and serving seafood safely
  • Old fashion bread pudding
  • Prolonging the life of bananas
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • And other helpful tips!
You don't want to miss this month's issue of the Cook It Quick newsletter from the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February Cook It Quick newsletter

The February Cook It Quick newsletter from the University of Nebraska Lincoln has just been sent out. They changed the format a little bit, but still have the same great information as usual.

In this issue:
  • Apple quinoa salad (if you have not tried quinoa, you can find it near the rice is most grocery stores - it has a nice nutty flavor and can be used a variety of different ways)
  • Quick granola bars
  • Corn and black bean salsa (try serving these with homemade whole wheat tortilla chips - cut whole wheat tortillas each into 6 triangles - spray with a little cooking oil and bake at 375 in the oven for 8-10 minutes)
  • No salt sloppy joe seasoning mix
  • Guacamole on the go
  • Roasted broccoli and red peppers
  • And more!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My favorite grocery store tips

Everyone has to shop at the grocery store here and there. Even if you eat at restaurants, you have to go to the store sometimes. So, here are some of my favorite grocery shopping tips to make your experience a little easier and to help save some money.

  • Plan ahead. I cannot stress how important this is! Use the store ads to plan your meals around the sales for the week. Check to see what items you have and what you need for the meals. For example, if large packages of chicken are a good special this week, plan a meal or few meals around chicken. You can even cook it once and refrigerate it until you will use it. Or you can freeze part of it for later.
  • Make a list. The more time you spend in the store wandering around, the more money you will likely spend. A list helps you stay organized, you are less likely to forget items (less trips to the store saves money), and gets you in and out quicker.
  • Use the unit price. Most people just look at the sticker price and completely ignore the unit price. The unit price gives you a price per amount (an ounce or pound for instance) and helps you compare different sizes and brands. There are many times I thought a sale item was a good price, until I used the unit price to compare the different sizes and brands. Focus your attention on the unit price, not the sticker price or sale price.
  • Spend less time in the middle aisles and more time on the perimeter of the store. Most of the healthiest items are on the perimeter - fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and protein (meats and eggs). Shop the middle aisles for frozen and canned fruits/vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Spend very little time in the junk food aisles.
  • Have a snack or meal before shopping. Shopping hungry is our worst energy - we end up with more food than we planned or unhealthy items.
  • Do not be fooled by the end-of-aisle displays. They are not always the best bargain. If you find an item you like, go to the section it would normally be at and compare the unit prices.
  • Be realistic about what you will eat. Food waste is a huge expense for many of us. Maybe you know you need to eat more fruits and vegetables, but also know that your family will not eat great amounts of them. You could buy smaller amounts and increase each week to help your family eat more healthy foods, but if you just end up throwing them away, it is not worth the extra expense.
  • While you are at it, park further away from the entrance. A little extra activity is good for all of us.
  •  What other tips do you use at the grocery store?