Kids in the kitchen – age appropriate kitchen skills

kids in the kitchen age appropriate tipsCooking with your child can be a fun, enlightening, and a valuable bonding experience for you and your impressionable child. If your child feels involved in the cooking process and has a positive experience you have an opportunity to teach them control and proper food safety in the kitchen.

An added bonus of cooking with your child is that it may help reduce the risk of them becoming picky eaters, since exposure to foods early in life teaches them to be more open to new and healthy foods.

If all this wasn’t enough reason to cook with your child there is research showing that children who learn to cook healthy foods at an early age, are more likely to continue a healthy lifestyle throughout their life.(1)

But is your child ready? The kitchen can be a minefield of safety concerns; scalding surfaces, sharp knives, breakable items etc. When considering your child’s safety in the kitchen, we want to share some suggestions. You, of course, are the best judge of what your child is ready to do, please use the below merely as guidelines.

How to include your child in the kitchen

  • Establish a child-free safety zone to protect your kids from hot surfaces, hot foods, and dangerous kitchen tools; keep them clear of stove tops, ovens and blenders.
  • Help your child feel stable by giving them a stepping stool if they can’t reach.
  • Always wash your hands before you begin cooking and between handling each food item.
  • Let them be messy. Yes, it’s a pain to clean, but isn’t that what makes it fun?

What not to do:

  • Don’t be overly critical. It can be discouraging.
  • Don’t get mad; let them learn from their mistakes.
  • Don’t rush. They are in the process of learning this new skill. You can’t expect them to be experts.

Suggested Age Appropriate Cooking Skills

Toddlers

When your child reaches around 18 months old you may find yourself with an enthusiastic want-to-be helper. This is a great opportunity to find something that makes them feel involved and at the same time keeps them out of your way.

Set your child up at a station where they are not within reach of any hazards like knives, hot liquids, etc.  They can wash vegetables and fruit; stir room temperature or cool ingredients; mash potatoes (make sure they’re cool enough); play with measuring cups and spoons.

Preschoolers

In addition to the above you can now include the cutting of soft ingredients with a solid plastic knife; mixing ingredients; picking grapes and tomatoes off the vine; kneading, rolling, shaping and cutting dough.

Kinder and First grade

Set the table, greasing and lining pans; actually measuring ingredients; rubbing in flour and butter with finger tips; snipping herbs; using a small knife (talk about basic knife safety first)

Second –  Fifth grade

Help plan the family meal. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss proportions of grain, vegetable, protein etc in a meal. With proper instruction your child may be ready to use a peeler, a handheld mixer, and even the stove. They can follow a simple recipe often at this point and can often be tasked with preparing salad.

Remember children should be supervised in the kitchen, even in middle school. Cooking together provides lots of opportunities to talk about food hygiene, math, following instructions, and motor skills.

  1. Yen Li Chu, Anna Farmer, Christina Fung, Stefan Kuhle, Kate E Storey, Paul J Veugelers. Involvement in home meal preparation is associated with food preference and self-efficacy among Canadian childrenPublic Health Nutrition, 2012; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S1368980012001218

Dear Dietitian, what can I count on?

Dear DietitianEggs are out. Eggs are in. Carbs are out. No fat is out. Just get rid of the sugar!

It’s hard to keep track of the latest food craze and know what’s best for your health. We asked our Wellness Department dietitians, Laurie Ledford and Mary Atkinson, for insight on what we can count on:

Studying nutrition in terms of prevention and treatment of disease is pretty new. Everyone has individualized needs and we will likely never have one single diet, food or supplement that works for everyone, but new research is continually revealing fascinating links and discoveries around how different nutrients and food compounds work in and with our bodies. It is hard for anyone to give a clear-cut and final answer about what constitutes the perfect and most healthful diet.

What do we do know?

  • Carbohydrates
    We know that carbs are not the enemy if you choose the correct kinds and amounts. Whole grains (such as farro, quinoa or black rice), low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables are all good choices of nutrient-rich carbohydrates.
  • Protein
    Newer research is indicating that higher levels of protein may be beneficial to specific populations and for weight management. However, there isn’t enough specific data yet to revise the current recommendation of 0.36 grams per pound of body weight for the general population. Protein requirements and recommendations are very individualized, so for more specific protein goals talk with your physician or a registered dietitian.
  • Fats
    Despite what you may have seen or read, there still is no fully supported research to indicate that saturated fats, such as milk fat or coconut oil, are healthy for our heart. We do need some fat in our diet, but the best forms are unsaturated, meaning that they are liquid at room temperature, such as olive or canola oil, nuts and avocado.


What if I really need something to count or track?

Notice how often you are eating out or having convenience/prepared meals. Home prepared anything is always a healthier choice. Try to reduce the times you eat out or have convenience meals each week. Save eating out for special occasions and truly enjoy the experience.Here is the BIGGIE: Track your Sleep!!! More and more research is linking sleep and a disruption to our circadian rhythm to weight management and health risks. When we don’t get adequate sleep several things can happen:

  • Pay attention to how many hours you spend in front of a screen, beyond what is required for work. We know screen time can cause mindless eating and can cause disruption to our sleep. Both of these impact our food choices and our health. Creating cutoff times for television or other devise usage can help.
  • Track your servings of vegetables and fruit you eat each day for a week. Then try to improve that by just one serving a day for the next week, and one more serving the following week … and so on. The ultimate goal being that half of your plate at each meal is made up of vegetables and some fruit.
  • Despite what you may have seen or read, there still is no fully supported research to indicate that saturated fats, such as milk fat or coconut oil, are healthy for our heart. We do need some fat in our diet, but the best forms are unsaturated, meaning that they are liquid at room temperature, such as olive or canola oil, nuts and avocado.
    • Impacts our cognitive (thinking) processes; can increase our risk for dementia
    • Impacts our emotional responses; can lead to an increase in depression, anxiety and irritability
    • Increases our risk for heart disease
    • Affects our immune response, making us more susceptible to getting sick
    • Increases production of cortisol, our stress hormone

The takeaway

Having a healthy diet is about looking at the overall quality of the foods you eat, when you eat them and the environment in which you eat. All foods can fit into a healthy diet in moderation, if the majority of your diet is a balance of all the food groups and macronutrients, offers variety, and is focused on enjoyment and success vs. restriction and regret.

Have more questions? Want to hear more? Join Mary and Laurie at The Core on October 23rd for Crunching Calories? Don’t Count On It! 

Eat Well – 7 ways to increase your fruit and veg intake

Most health-conscious people agree that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is a good habit. Plants provide a cornucopia of nutrients your body needs to function properly. Plus they are colorful, delicious and provide endless opportunities for cooking creativity. For a variety of reasons though, few of us get enough of them in our daily diets.

How many servings do you need each day? That number depends on the number of calories you need per day, along with other factors. An easier guideline to follow is this: whenever you have a meal or snack, make at least half of it vegetables, fruit or a combination. That likely means increasing the amount you currently eat, and you should do that at your own pace. Start by adding just one more fruit or vegetable per day or one more per week. Here are some tips to help you get going.

7 ways to increase your fruit and veg

1. “A goal without a plan is just a wish”*

Create a weekly menu, or at least a menu outline, that includes a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack. Using this menu, make your grocery list and go shopping.

  • Choose a variety of fruit and veggies, across the whole spectrum of colors.
  • Please eat real fruit and veggies. Chips and other products containing vegetable powders or concentrates don’t count.
  • Frozen produce can be more convenient than fresh. It’s easy to keep some on hand all the time, so you can add a boost of nutrition to any meal or snack. Also, you can use as much as you need and leave the rest in the bag, creating less waste.
  • Canned foods tend to be a less nutritious choice than fresh or frozen, and most people are not fond of their soggy texture. With beans and tomato products, however, the canned version is far more convenient and still relatively healthy. If you do buy canned vegetables, choose low-sodium or no-salt-added options.

2. Be prepared

It’s a motto not just for scouts! On a day when you have extra time, do some preparation for the coming days.

  • Cut up fresh produce, so it is ready for snacking or for use in recipes later.
  • Cook a batch of something that can be refrigerated or frozen, then reheat and eat later.

3. Double, sneak and boost

Add vegetables to things you already regularly eat. For example:

  • Boost that breakfast by adding spinach, mushrooms, onions or tomato to your scrambled eggs.
  • Add sliced veggies or leafy greens to sandwiches or wraps.
  • Sneak some broccoli, cauliflower, peppers or squash into soup or chili or pasta dishes.
  • If you ever need to rely on a pre-packaged frozen meal, throw some chopped, frozen veggies into it before you put it in the microwave. This will significantly improve the meal’s nutritional content.

4. Add a little sweetness and texture

Add fruit to cereal or yogurt.

  • Instead of eating sugary, fruit-flavored yogurt, stir berries into Greek yogurt. If you do this with frozen berries and store it in the fridge overnight, the berries will thaw a little, giving you a nice sauce that flavors the whole concoction.

5. Make it a power pack snack!

  • …on raw veggies, such as carrot or celery sticks, dipped in hummus.
  • …on plain, fresh fruit. Or combine fruit slices with peanut or almond butter. For a less messy combo, mix unsweetened dried fruit with nuts.

6. Explore the stars, star fruit that is

Don’t hesitate to try a vegetable or fruit you’ve never had before. You might discover a new favorite.

  • Buy something that looks interesting, and then search online for preparation instructions.
  • If you shop at a farmers’ market, you can ask the farmers themselves for recommendations.

7. Try that beet again

Consider revisiting a vegetable you thought you didn’t like. Maybe your tastes have changed, or you can try a new way of preparing it, and you’ll find you now love it.

Have fun on your new adventures in the plant world!

Laurie Ledford

Laurie Ledford RDLaurie Ledford is our very own Georgia peach, a registered dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She now works as a registered dietitian  in the Tucson Medical Center Wellness Department. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) as well as hiking and cycling.

 

 

 

 

*Quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Green Eggs and ham, anyone? Are those eggs safe to eat?

Whether you celebrate Easter, Passover, another spring holiday, eggs are the hot ticket right now. And unless your name is Sam, you probably don’t want to be eating many green eggs!

When I was little, we would hunt for eggs in the yard…the real thing AND we would eat them afterwards! I also used to eat mud pies and share ice cream cones with my dog. Obviously, food safety wasn’t of much concern to me back then!

Today, because of the rise in food borne illnesses, we have to be much more cautious and concerned about how we handle our food. Here are a few tips to keep your holidays eggcellent:

Egg Safety Tips:

Is it safe to eat the hard-boiled eggs we decorated?

Yes if you:
-Store them in the refrigerator
-When hiding them only place them away from bacterial sources such as pets and dirt
-Toss eggs that are cracked, dirty or have been out of the fridge for more than two hours
-Use all leftover cooked eggs within one week

Or you could cook two sets of eggs! One set for an egg hunt or centerpiece display, and the other for eating. That way, the eggs you eat can stay properly refrigerated.

Consider using plastic eggs for hiding. You can use them year after year!

Can I use eggs after the “sell by” date?

Yes! Make sure you use the eggs within three weeks of the “sell-by” date and:
-Store eggs in the refrigerator at less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
-When you buy eggs, make sure they are sold in a refrigerator case and that none of the eggs are cracked
-When you get home put the eggs in the refrigerator and keep them in their original carton displaying the expiration date.

While many refrigerators have a specialized egg rack in the door, don’t use it. Place your eggs in the main portion of the refrigerator. The egg rack on the door is not the best place to store eggs because the temperature is warmer there than on the interior shelves.

How do I hard-boil an egg?

Hard-boiled eggs should be cooked until the white and yolk are completely set.
-Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with water.
-Bring water to a boil, cover the saucepan, then turn off the heat.
-Let eggs stand in water for 15 minutes.
-Remove eggs and place in a bowl of ice cold water to cool.

Do hard-boiled eggs spoil?

Fresh eggs direct from the chicken have a protective coating that makes it difficult for bacteria to permeate the shell and contaminate the egg. The eggs you purchase from the store are often subjected to a high pressure water stream to wash the dirt off. This washing also takes off the protective covering and finally when eggs are hard boiled any remaining protective coating is washed away. Make sure hard-boiled eggs are refrigerated within two hours of cooking and used within a week.

Eek! Why is the inside of my hard-boiled egg green?

Oops! You’ve overcooked your egg. The sulfur and iron compounds in the egg have reacted on the yolk’s surface, but don’t worry the green-colored yolk is safe to eat.

Have more questions? The Eat Right website which is a fabulous resource for all things nutrition including food safety questions.

Mary Atkinson is the Director of Wellness at TMC and a register dietitian.

Keep the Yummy, Healthy this Holiday Season

healthy holiday recipe modificationsWelcome to the season of festive gatherings and indulgent eating. Nutritionally speaking, this is a tough time of year. We don’t want to give up delicious holiday dishes; however, we would rather not wreck our health through weeks of unhealthy eating. Fortunately, with a few modifications and a little moderation, we don’t have to do either.

There are three magic ingredients most cooks rely on to make their dishes taste better: salt, fat and sugar. Unfortunately, these ingredients can damage our health when used too heavily and consumed too often. Here’s the good news: you can still get that delicious taste by using salt, fat and sugar in moderation. Let’s look at ways we can reduce them.

Cutting the salt

  • Before adding salt to a recipe, think about why – or even if – it is necessary. Maybe you don’t really need it, or perhaps you could use half the amount called for.
  • Instead of salt, try herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of your food. Other seasonings to try: pepper, citrus juice or zest, onion or garlic, vinegar, salt-free seasoning blends, nutritional yeast. Beware of spice mixes that may contain salt.
  • If using canned tomatoes, beans or broth in a recipe, choose a no-salt-added or low-sodium version of the product.
  • When baking, be careful about how much salt you remove from the recipe, as that can change the texture of the final product.

Lightening up with less saturated (bad) fat

  • In cooking, replace butter and coconut oil with olive oil or canola oil. This won’t work in baking, however, because you would get a completely different texture.
  • Pie crusts are full of butter or other highly saturated fat. Try a crust-less version of your dessert instead.
  • Buy lean cuts of meat: chicken and turkey breasts, beef “loin” or “round,” pork tenderloin. Consider serving fish in place of meat.
  • Try replacing some full-fat dairy products with low-fat or fat-free versions. For example, do you need both butter and cream in mashed potatoes, or could you do with butter and low-fat milk?
  • Roast, grill, broil or stew food instead of frying.

Scaling back on sugar

  • Bring out the natural sweetness in food by adding spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, mace, vanilla or almond extract.
  • When baking, try reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe by a quarter, or 25 percent. (For example, use 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup of sugar.) You may be able to reduce it further, but this may affect the browning and texture of your baked goods.

A few more things to remember

  • Choose good quality ingredients, so that their natural flavors make the dish delish!
  • To boost the nutritional value of your meals, add more fruits and vegetables. Try adding dried fruits or extra vegetables to traditional recipes such as stuffing, quick breads and salads. An simple, tasty addition to any meal is to cut up a variety of your favorite veggies into similar-sized pieces (about 1 ½-inch), coat them in olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite herbs. Spread them on a sheet pan and roast at 400 degrees until golden on the outside and slightly tender on the inside.
  • Indulge mindfully. If you have a generally healthy diet most of the time, you can allow yourself room for some holiday indulgences. The key is to enjoy them, with all your senses and without a shred of regret.

We wish you happy, healthy and tasty holidays!

Laurie Ledford is a registered dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She now works as a registered dietitian  in the Tucson Medical Center Wellness Department. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) as well as hiking and cycling.

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Bust that sugar habit in four easy steps

Tucson Medical Center is part of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

Is hidden sugar adding inches to your waistline? Laurie Ledford, Registered Dietitian, follows this video from the Mayo Clinic with four easy steps for reducing the sugar in your diet:

Step 1 – Know Where the Sugar Is

Major Sources:

  • sugar-sweetened soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweet iced tea
  • fruit drinks
  • grain-based desserts (e.g., cakes, cookies, doughnuts, pies and granola bars)
  • dairy desserts (e.g., ice cream custard)
  • candy
  • ready-to-eat cereals
  • breads

Sugar can also be found lurking in salsas and sauces, such as ketchup. You have to read the ingredients label to find it. You may see sugar called by many different names on food labels. Some of its aliases are dextrose, confectioner’s powdered sugar, corn syrup solids, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar), syrups (corn, maple) or sucrose. If you add brown sugar, raw sugar, honey or agave syrup to your food or drink, you are still adding sugar.

But what about the sugar in fruit?

Yes, there are naturally occurring sugars in fruit (also in other minimally processed foods, such as milk), but these are accompanied by essential nutrients. Processed foods with added sugars are usually nutrient-poor. Said another way, they are just empty calories… until you see them sitting on the back of your thighs.

Step 2 – Know Your Limit

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the calories you consume from added sugars. For most women, the limit is 100 calories or 25 grams per day. For most men, the limit is 150 calories or 37 grams. You know your limit, now how to figure out how much you’re eating.

Step 3 – Know How Much You Are Eating

Read the Nutrition Facts panels on packaged foods, and remember to pay attention to the number of servings you are actually eating. If you have a smartphone try an online nutrition app like MyFitnessPal for tracking.

If you are adding sweeteners yourself be familiar with what the caloric intake is

  • 1 tsp sugar = 16 calories
  • 1 tsp maple syrup = 17 calories
  • 1 tsp molasses = 19 calories
  • 1 tsp honey = 21 calories
  • 1 tsp agave syrup = 21 calories

And if you add more than 1 teaspoon multiply the calories accordingly.

Step 4 – Cut Back Where You Can

Here are some suggestions from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, publisher of the Nutrition Action Health letter:

  • Cut back on soft drinks (which they call “liquid candy”) and sweet tea. Instead, try club soda, seltzer, unsweetened tea, low-fat or non-fat milk. Better yet, drink water.
  • Avoid fruit drinks, -ades and cocktails. These are essentially non-carbonated soda pop. Sunny Delight, Fruitopia, and others are only 5-10 percent juice. If you want juice, choose 100 percent juice and watch your portion size.
  • Limit candy, cookies, cakes, pies, doughnuts, granola bars, pastries and other sweet baked goods. Eat fruit, veggies or nuts instead.
  • Fat-free cakes, cookies and ice cream may have as much added sugar as their fatty counterparts, and they’re often high in calories. “Fat-free” on the package doesn’t mean fat-free on your waist or thighs.
  • Look for breakfast cereals that have no more than 8 grams of sugar per serving.

We all have some special sweets we don’t want to give up forever. You don’t have to. Instead, treat them as indulgences and eat them less often or in smaller portions. You can also prepare them yourself, so that you can control the amount of added sugar that goes into them. As a challenge, try gradually reducing the amount of sugar in your recipes to see how little you can get away with.

Another option you might want to try is using artificially sweetened beverages and desserts. Not everyone likes artificial sweeteners, but they can help some people satisfy their sweet tooth without the extra calories or rise in blood sugar.

Start today! Break your sugar addiction.

Challenge yourself to try one or more of these easy strategies for cutting back on wasted calories:

  • I will replace one sugar-sweetened beverage with an equivalent amount of water on at least three days during the next week.
  • I will try a breakfast cereal that contains less than 8 grams (2 teaspoons) of sugar per serving.
  • The next time I eat yogurt, I will replace half of the sweetened yogurt with plain yogurt. (Then I can save the other half of that sweetened yogurt for the next day.)
  • The next time I bake, I will reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe by 25 percent. (For example, use 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup of sugar.)
  • The next time I order dessert in a restaurant, I will share half (or more) of it with someone else.

Need support in making healthy changes to your diet?

Tucson Medical Center offers personalized nutritional assessments by registered dietitians to help you reach your goals.

Laurie Ledford MS RD aka The Nutritionista
Laurie is a Registered Dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She works as a Registered Dietitian at Tucson Medical Center. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) and discovering delicious food and beverage pairings. She is still trying to find the perfect wine to serve with Brussel sprouts.

 

 

Optimize your fruit and vegetable choices with tips from our wellness experts

eating well doesn't have to break the bankIt should come as no surprise that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet. The more vegetables and fruit you eat, the less likely you are to develop cardiovascular disease, age-related eye diseases, osteoporosis and some types of cancer. What does seem to be surprising to many is how easy it is to incorporate vegetables and fruit into our diets. We often hear one of these comments as the reason someone is not eating enough vegetables and fruit:

     “Fresh produce is so expensive.”

     “Fresh produce goes bad before I use it.”

     “I don’t know what I should buy, and I don’t know what to do with the stuff I do buy.”

These are legitimate questions and concerns. Here are some things to consider that will hopefully help to address how to incorporate produce more easily into your diet.

Add More Variety

We eat with our eyes. Lots of color and variety is key. We eat with our eyes – color and variety make a plate of food look more enticing. Keep this in mind when you are trying to persuade yourself or your family to eat more vegetables and fruit. Not only does variety prevent boredom, it also ensures that your body gets a full spectrum of nutrients. Different types and colors of foods provide different vitamins, minerals and other plant compounds that enable your body to perform its everyday functions and prevent disease. Add produce that is in season or locally grown is likely to be fresher and more flavorful, and generally it is more cost effective.

TIP: Purchase produce in season, cut it up into smaller pieces and freeze for use throughout the year.

Fresh vs. Frozen vs. Canned

While fresh is always best, it may not always be possible to have fresh produce. Frozen fruits and vegetables are convenient, nutritious, and often less expensive, so they are your next best option. Avoid items with added sugar, butter or sauces, as this adds extra calories and fat. In the case of beans and tomato products, canned versions are far more convenient and can still be relatively healthy. When buying canned vegetables, choose low-sodium or no-salt-added options; otherwise, drain and rinse thoroughly to reduce the sodium.

TIP: Keep some frozen vegetables on hand for a quick and easy addition to soups, pastas or rice dishes.

Think About Organic

Should you buy organic produce? That’s something you have to decide for yourself.

If you would like to eat organic foods to reduce the amount of synthetic chemicals you ingest, but you can’t buy organic every time, here are a few suggestions for prioritizing your purchases:

  • If you frequently eat a lot of certain types of fruits or vegetables, buy organic versions of them to reduce your intake of the particular pesticides commonly used on those crops.
  • Check out “The Dirty Dozen.” It is a list of conventional produce that, according the Environmental Working Group, carries a high pesticide load. Buying organic versions of these foods can reduce your consumption of toxic chemicals.
  • Most pesticide residue exists on the outer surface of produce, so you may want to buy organic if you are planning to eat the skin.

Organic foods are not necessarily more nutritious, and there is no good evidence to show that eating organic produce reduces your risk of cancer. The important thing is that you eat more fruits and veggies, however you manage to do it.

For more tips on making the most of your produce see this TMC for Women post.

Design your personalized nutrition plan or tour the grocery store with help from our registered dietitians

Make summer snacks fun, tasty and healthy

Summer snack 3Summertime brings vacations, warm weather and great food. The TMC and TMCOne Clinical Dietician Kallie Siderewicz offers some tips to make summer food fun, tasty and healthy.

Healthy doesn’t mean boring

Try a peanut butter and low-fat Greek yogurt dip for fruit. Ranch seasoning also gives Greek yogurt the yum factor for dipping veggies.

Other fun dishes include fruit kabobs, apples slices topped with peanut butter, coconut, and chocolate chips. A summertime favorite is fruit coated with frozen yogurt.

Cool off by infusing water or tea with lemon, lime, berries, oranges, mint, or rosemary.

Summer snackFor an adult beverage, try light beer, a glass of red wine or liquor mixed with water or diet soda.

High-calorie pitfalls

Before hot summer days have you reaching for a frozen coffee drink – remember that a small serving can have over 500 calories. Sodas and most sports drinks offer hard-to-burn calories with no nutrition.

For adults, mixed drinks usually combine alcohol and sugar, piling calories on top of calories.

Fruit salads made with fruit canned in heavy syrup can have as many calories as pie and cake, especially if you add marshmallows and whipped cream.

Don’t forget water

Water is the absolute best thing you can give your body. It hydrates, helps cleanse and cool. Another good reason to drink water – it can aid in weight loss.

Kallie Siderewicz.jpg

 

 

Kallie Siderewicz is a clinical dietician at the TMCOne Rincon location. She also provides nutrition services at Tucson Medical Center.

Food-safe grilling and picnicking

Food grilling safety tipsFor heat-tolerant Arizonans, and for those visiting slightly cooler destinations, summer is a time for picnics and cookouts. Unfortunately, it can also be a prime time for foodborne illness (“food poisoning”) to hit. Although warm summer temperatures may make humans feel sluggish, bacteria are undeterred. In fact, most harmful bacteria reproduce faster at temperatures of 90° to 100° F. That’s a good reason to be cautious, but there’s no need to give up al fresco dining. You can still have an enjoyable outing by following a few simple food safety guidelines:

Food Safety Basics: Clean,  Separate, Cook, Chill

  1. Clean your hands and anything that is going to touch the food – cutting boards, utensils, cookware and other surfaces. The best cleanser is soap and warm water. However, if they are not available, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer on your hands. Wipe or rinse off any dirt or grease before applying the hand sanitizer, so it can work better. If you are heading outdoors, bring clean utensils and other items with you. Be sure to pack everything into clean coolers, baskets and bags.
  2. Separate raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs from ready-to-eat foods. Raw meat, etc., should be wrapped in its own container and carried in a separate cooler filled with ice. Once a raw item is cooked, do not put it back into the same container, which may still be contaminated with germs.
  3. Cook that raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs to a safe internal temperature. You cannot rely on color to tell you whether or not the food is safe. Use a food thermometer, and go to www.fightbac.org/cook-1 to find a chart of safe temperatures for various foods.
  4. Chill perishable food at 40° F or below until you are ready to cook or eat it. When transporting food, carry it in the air-conditioned section of the car, not in the trunk. If you are working with frozen foods, do not defrost them at room temperature. At the end of the meal, chill leftovers as soon as possible. It is normally recommended to put leftovers in the refrigerator within 2 hours. However, if the ambient temperature is above 90° F, you only have 1 hour to get them chilled. If you are picnicking or camping, it would be wise to discard the perishable leftovers rather than risk a foodborne illness.

Healthier Grilling

Cooking meat, poultry or fish at a high temperature – as in pan frying or direct grilling – can create carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds. There are steps you can take to minimize the amount of dangerous compounds in your food.

  1. Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry, and cut off visible fat before cooking. Another option is to choose fish or vegetables instead. Less fat produces fewer toxins.
  2. Marinate food before cooking it.
  3. Cook at a lower temperature. If using a gas grill, don’t set it on high. With conventional grills, use hardwood charcoal, which burns at a lower temperature than softer woods like mesquite. Flipping the food frequently will also keep the surface temperature cooler.
  4. Cook indirectly rather than setting food directly over the flame or coals.
  5. Do not eat charred food. Cajun food blackened with spices is not a problem. Food blackened by overcooking or burning is.

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Mediterranean diet has much to offer

 

We know that healthy diets can definitely be beneficial in lowering LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, which is a major risk factor in causing heart attacks and strokes. In general, the main principle is to avoid saturated fats.

Cholesterol itself is only found in animal fats, so you would think that avoiding animal products would be sufficient to prevent elevated cholesterol. Certainly, it is important to avoid high-fat meats and cheeses. Lunch meats, bacon and similar products should be totally avoided. At the same time, avoiding animal products is insufficient because vegetable products with saturated fats will stimulate the liver to produce cholesterol. So, the amount of cholesterol that is eaten is only one factor in determining blood levels of cholesterol.

A Mediterranean diet appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. These diets are typically high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and include olive oil as an important source of fat. There are typically low to moderate amounts of fish, poultry, dairy products, and red meat is limited to no more than a few times a month. Herbs and spices are used instead of salt to flavor foods.

 

There is often red wine in addition to the diet*. Resveratrol is an anti-oxidant especially found in the skin of red grapes. It has not been proven to lower LDL cholesterol but does help prevent cardiovascular disease, probably by other mechanisms (the same is true for dark chocolate). However, even without the wine the Mediterranean diet, particularly including virgin olive oil, seems to be very effective in decreasing heart attacks and strokes.

William Abraham, M.D.

abraham

Dr. William Abraham is board-certified in internal medicine and has more than 30 years of experience. He is a TMC One provider who specializes in same-day/next-day appointments at the Wilmot location.

TMC One Med Group your health your team OL

*Please consult your doctor before changing your diet. Red wine should be enjoyed in moderation.

Keeping your food safe while outing…

picnic food safetyThe summer has fully kicked in and trips to the beach, a picnic at your favorite park, and an overnight stay in a campsite sound so exhilarating!

It is certain that food will be involved in any of these trips since we all need to eat. Perhaps your favorite grilled entree paired with vegetable skewers and fresh-squeezed lemonade over ice sound like a perfect culinary experience during an outing.  Wouldn’t you want to finish up this experience without gastrointestinal problems?

To protect you and your trip crew against food borne illnesses and keep a pleasantly healthy gastrointestinal system (mostly made up of your stomach, intestines, and trips to the WC…) when eating outdoors, follow these eight simple guidelines for preparing, transporting and serving your food safely – you can even print this page, take it with you and share it with your trip crew. This can be a teachable moment for your children, family members and friends. We all eat and handle food, so this info is worthwhile to everyone. Happy outing!

Eight Simple Food Safety Steps

  1. Keep everything clean. Always wash and dry your hands before handling food or cooking, and after using the restroom, touching your body, and handling raw animal foods. Make sure all utensils and dishes are cleaned with running water and soap when preparing foods and reusing them.
  2. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Unless they are packaged and labeled “ready-to-eat” or “washed,” rinse and dry them with running water before eating or packaging them. Brush fruits and vegetables with skin.
  3. Don’t cross-contaminate. Don’t let cooked food touch raw foods and keep raw meat, poultry and seafood away from foods that do not require cooking them to a specific internal temperature.
  4. Keep cold food cold (at or below 40°F) and hot food hot (at or above 140°F) during preparation and storing to prevent bacterial growth. A food thermometer comes in handy; make sure to sanitize it with alcohol before each use. Tip: carry coolers inside the cabin of the car as the trunk can get too warm, becoming the perfect environment for bacteria.
  5. Cook food thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to be sure food is cooked to a safe internal temperature – the table below from the FoodSafety.gov website shows food-specific cooking temperatures.
  6. Check for foreign objects in food. For example, body hair or bristles from a brush to clean the grill. Tip: tie your hair back or wear a cap when cooking.
  7. Store leftovers ASAP. Place them in a refrigerator or ice chest to keep them at or below 40°F. Discard food if it has been left out for over 2 hours or over 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F, and if they have been stored for 2 days or more. Specific food storage times are found here.
  8. Reheating. When reheating cooked food, reheat to 165°F.
Category Food

Temperature (°F) 

Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb

160

Turkey, Chicken

165

Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops

145

Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole, breasts, roasts, thighs, legs, wingsDuck & GooseStuffing (cooked alone or in bird)

165

Pork and Ham Fresh pork and ham (raw)

145

Precooked ham (to reheat)

140

Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs

Cook until yolk & white are firm

Egg dishes

160

Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers & casseroles

165

Seafood Fin Fish

145 or cook until flesh is opaque & separates easily with a fork.

Shrimp, lobster, and crabs

Cook until flesh is pearly & opaque.

Clams, oysters, and mussels

Cook until shells open during cooking.

Scallops

Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque & firm.

 

Blog Courtesy of Martha Mosqueda

 


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