A New Look at Water

Woman drinking glass of waterSoaking up the sun while fishing at the lake is one of my favorite things to do in the heat of the summer. Often times, however, I find myself with a headache at the end of the day because I never seem to remember to drink enough water. I know water is very important because it is contained in every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies, but sometimes plain water just gets so blah.

When plain water isn’t doing it for people, they often turn to pop, lemonade, or other assorted sliced and whole fruitsugary drinks. If you are not consuming enough plain water, but don’t want the extra sugar, try adding fresh fruit. If left to set, the fruit will add a subtle flavor to the water to give it a little more pizazz. If this isn’t sweet enough, you can add a teaspoon of sugar or other sweetener. This teaspoon of sugar with 16 calories is much better to consume than the 126 calories from sugar contained in the average soda. You can also use frozen fruit, letting it melt while you drink, or freeze fresh berries or citrus zest into ice cubes. Below is a recipe to try and links to other recipes.

Berry Water:

2 cups blueberries, raspberries and/or strawberries

A pitcher of water

A cup of ice

Directions:

1. Add berries to the pitcher.

2. Gently press fruit with a spoon to release some of the juices.

3. Add ice to the pitcher, then fill with water, stir fruit to mix.

4. Serve immediately or chill, covered, in the refrigerator.

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/pass_the_water_please

Cucumber Mint Water:

http://www.chopchopmag.org/content/cucumber-mint-water

More ideas:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/invigorate-water

More information on the importance of drinking water is available from the CDC and K-State Research & Extension.

Rachel Juenemann is a K-State Research and Extension intern in Thomas County and will be a junior at Kansas State University. She is majoring in Nutrition & Health and Dietetics and plans on becoming a Registered Dietitian. She will look for a position in a rural community. At K-State she is very involved with the College of Human Ecology Ambassadors, and is a member of the Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society.

Reviewed by Lisa J. Martin, MPH, RD, LD, Shawnee County Extension Agent

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Shopping Safe at Farmers Markets

I love shopping at Farmers Markets to be able to meet and support local farmers, buy healthy produce and other tasty foods, and to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere! It is also a great place to take my kids for a fun outing. As when buying foods anywhere, consumers at Farmers Markets should look for a few important clues to help give you some idea of the product’s safety. Here are some clues to look for at the market:

Fresh produce

-      Should be clean, look fresh, no cuts or nicks

-      Displayed off the ground/floor

Cut or peeled produce

-      Displayed on/ surrounded by ice

-      Look fresh and cold

Meats, eggs, cheeses

-      Package must feel cold; product in cooler/ on ice

-      Eggs- carton and eggs should be clean, not cracked, and cool

Milk

-      Must be pasteurized (Kansas regulation) – ask vendor to confirm

Juice, cider

-      Pasteurized is safest

Hot prepared foods

-      Would like to see vendor using thermometer

-      Should have a lid, see steam rising from pan

Handwashing

-      Seeing vendors washing their hands

-      See a handwashing station in booth (particularly prepared foods)

Booth, personal cleanliness

-      Surfaces of booth, knives, other utensils clean

-      Clean clothes, hands, no wiping nose, etc.

Certifications

-      Look for any posted food safety certifications/ trainings attended

All products

-      Ask vendors about their food safety practices

It is also important when buying foods at a Farmers Market or anywhere to be sure to handle it safely on the way home and once at home.  

More information on this and other food safety topics is available from the Kansas State Research and Extension and USDA.  Information on regulations and best practices for Farmers Market vendors is available in this KSU/KDA publication.

Londa Nwadike serves as State Extension Consumer Food Safety Specialist for both Kansas State University and the University of Missouri. Before moving to the Kansas City area for this position with her husband and 2 young children in July 2013, she served as Extension Food Safety Specialist for the University of Vermont, where she worked extensively with farmers market vendors and small scale food processors.   Londa grew up on a diversified family farm in eastern South Dakota. She worked in food safety for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), based in Rome, Italy for 5 years, and also has extensive experience living and working in Africa.

 

Reviewed by:

Karen Blakeslee, M.S; Extension Associate, Rapid Response Center Coordinator
K-State Research and Extension

 

Lori Wuellner, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Kansas State University Research and Extension, Wyandotte County.

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Food Label Makeover

You can spend a lot of time at the grocery store trying to make sense out of the Nutrition Facts label. It’s hard to figure out what is a serving and because of that, it’s easy to eat several servings. Other ingredients like added sugar are also not spelled out so you may be eating more sugar than you realize. But there is good news–the Nutrition Facts label, first introduced in 1993, is getting a makeover.

Why? Because Americans are eating differently–mostly larger portions. Because our eating habits are linked to chronic health conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the proposed new label is being redesigned to help consumers make more informed choices.

 

 

 

Here is a list of the proposed changes:

•    Calories per serving will be in larger and bolder type.
•    Fat calories will be deleted but types of fat in the food will remain.
•    Added sugars will be listed. (Foods with natural sugars included fruit and milk.)
•    The number of servings in each package will be more prominent.
•    Serving sizes will be updated to reflect how much people truly eat.
•    Daily values for various nutrients will be updated and more prominent.
•    Vitamin D and potassium will be added and Vitamins A and C will be deleted. (We tend to be low in D and potassium, and consume enough of A and C.)

The proposed changes are currently in a 90-day comment period. After the changes are made, food companies will have two years to comply.

For more information, visit http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm387114.htm

 

Written by:

Lisa J. Martin, MPH, RD, LD
County Extension Agent-Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
K-State Research and Extension-Shawnee County

For more than 15 years, Lisa has enjoyed teaching Shawnee County adults and youth healthful eating on a budget. Her areas of expertise include: nutrition, infant feeding, maternal and child health, menu planning, food budgeting, food safety, healthful meals in minutes, weight management, and hunger and food security.

 

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The War on Wheat

 Hand holding wheat.Last summer, I vacationed at a retreat in Colorado where just about everyone was on a wheat and gluten-free diet. In fact, the retreat staff where I was staying had just read one of the latest diet books that proclaimed gluten as the new dietary villain, and they were all enthusiastically sharing their new eating plan with everyone. When the retreat director found out that I was a dietitian, she made sure that I knew there were a number of gluten-free foods on the menu. I was also lectured by the masseuse on how gluten and wheat were bad for us as I was trapped in the massage chair. 

So why are people jumping on the gluten-free, wheat-free bandwagon? A number of books and television programs have popularized this diet fad by claiming that wheat is responsible for belly fat, gastrointestinal issues and mental health conditions like Alzheimer’s, depression and ADHD. However, there isn’t enough science to back up the authors’ claims. So, if you are thinking about eating gluten or wheat-free, here are the facts:

Celiac Disease, Wheat Allergy and Wheat Sensitivity/Gluten Intolerance

Wheat isn’t good for everyone. Just less than one percent of people in the United States suffer from an autoimmune condition called celiac disease. Certain protein fragments, (produced during digestion of wheat’s gluten proteins), severely damage the walls of the intestines. In addition, an estimated one-half of one percent of people in the U.S. are allergic to wheat, and unknown number of Americans have a less well-defined condition often characterized as wheat sensitivity or gluten intolerance. The key here is that you should be diagnosed with one of these conditions by your health care provider before eliminating these foods from your diet. People who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, wheat allergy, or gluten intolerance should avoid eating foods that contain any type of wheat, and may have to avoid barley and rye which also contain gluten.

True celiac disease is wicked, and the diet is not fun to follow. People with it wish they could occasionally eat just one slice of bread but that one slice of bread will ravage their gut.  People without the disease may feel better eating gluten free but most likely they are experiencing the “halo” or placebo effect.

Belly Fat

Eating too many calories and not exercising contributes to belly fat, and it’s easy to eat too many refined grains found in pastries, snacks and other processed foods. So instead of eliminating all wheat, choose more whole grains. A recent study found that people who ate at least three servings of whole grains each day including wheat had 10 percent lower belly fat compared to people eating no whole grains.

Your Brain on Wheat

The claims about what effect wheat may have on the brain don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny either. The brain needs carbohydrates for energy, and grain foods are an excellent source. When you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, you will feel tired, unable to focus, irritable and may have headaches, and memory and learning problems.

Gut Health

Followers of these popular diets may say that they feel better when they give up wheat and as mentioned they may be experiencing a “halo” or placebo effect. However, when you eliminate grains from your diet, it’s difficult to get the fiber you need to maintain a healthy gut, immune system and overall health. Fiber helps with maintaining good blood sugar control and good blood cholesterol, and avoiding constipation. Fiber also serves as food for the friendly bacteria that keep your gut healthy.

Bottom Line

If you still want to try a gluten-free or wheat-free diet, look for other whole grains that you can include instead such as brown rice, quinoa, or popcorn. Visit the Whole Grains Council for more ideas and recipes. Keep watching – the research on gluten and related topics continues to examine some fascinating questions.  This topic is nowhere near run its course!

Many fads diets are hard to sustain in the long run because they are boring. Avoiding favorite foods may also be difficult when temptations arise as I witnessed at my retreat during an evening banquet. A luscious white flour pound cake with glazed peaches was served for dessert. I chuckled to myself as all the gluten-free dieters could not resist and eating wheat became okay.

For further reading:

The Great Gluten Panic: Risk assessments and facts: https://webapp.agron.ksu.edu/agr_social/eu_article.throck?article_id=173

The Gluten-Free Choice: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/FCS3/FCS3564/FCS3564.pdf

Healthful Whole Grains: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/mf2560.pdf

In Focus: Gluten-Free: http://www.wheatfoods.org/channels/in-focus

Written by:

Lisa J. Martin, MPH, RD, LD
County Extension Agent-Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
K-State Research and Extension-Shawnee County

For more than 15 years, Lisa has enjoyed teaching Shawnee County adults and youth healthful eating on a budget. Her areas of expertise include: nutrition, infant feeding, maternal and child health, menu planning, food budgeting, food safety, healthful meals in minutes, weight management, and hunger and food security.

Reviewed by:

Dr. Sandy Procter, PhD, RD, LD
Extension Specialist, Kansas EFNEP  and FNP Coordinator
Department of Human Nutrition

Karen Blakeslee, MS
Coordinator-Rapid Response Center
Kansas State University

 

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Tomatoes: Don’t Forget the Acid!

 One of the most popular foods gardeners grow is tomatoes. They just scream summer! There are more than 400 varieties including specialty and heirloom types.  After a bountiful harvest, many tomatoes are home preserved by canning. But tomatoes are deceiving in that they are not as acidic as you think.

In home canning, botulism bacteria can grow and produce toxin in sealed jars stored at room temperature when the pH (acid content) is above 4.6. Vegetables, meat, fish, etc. have a natural acid level above 4.6 and require pressure canning to make them safe.

Tomatoes can have a natural pH above 4.6 (at least up to 4.9).  But rather than develop a pressure-only process as if they were all low-acid, since they are so close to 4.6, USDA decided instead to recommend a small amount of acid be added so they can be treated as a food with a pH less than 4.6 for home canning.  Therefore they are suitable for boiling water canning when the acid is added.

When you see the tomato product recommendations in USDA canning directions that offer both boiling water and pressure canning options, those pressure canning processes are still only the same amount of total heat treatment as the boiling water option.  (Higher temperature due to higher pressure = shorter process time.)  Those pressure processes are not the amount of heat and time that would be required for canning a low-acid food to control for botulism.  There has not been a properly researched process for pressure canning of tomatoes without added acid, so the available process times still require the addition of acid as if they are being processed in boiling water.

Here are the USDA recommendations for adding acid to home canned tomatoes.

Bottled lemon juice

·         1 tablespoon per pint

·         2 tablespoons per quart

Vinegar (5% acidity, may cause undesirable flavor)

·         2 tablespoons per pint

·         4 tablespoons per quart

Citric Acid (available where you buy canning supplies)

·         ¼ teaspoon per pint

·         ½ teaspoon per quart

There are some tomato products in the USDA canning procedures that only have a pressure process listed (for example, tomatoes with okra or zucchini, spaghetti sauces, Mexican tomato sauce, etc.).  If a pressure process is the only listed option, then it is the required processing method and we do not have a boiling water process option available. These products made according to the stated recipes and procedures are low-acid food mixtures.

Sources:

Burning Issue: Acidifying Tomatoes When Canning
http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/acidifying.html

Preserving Tomatoes
http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/MF1185.PDF

Add Acid to Tomatoes When Canning: Here’s Why!
http://www.foodsafety.wisc.edu/assets/preservation/uwex_addacidtomatoes.pdf

Written by: Karen Blakeslee, M.S.
Extension Associate,Rapid Response Center Coordinator
K-State Research and Extension

The Rapid Response Center was formed in 1995 as a resource for Kansas State University Research & Extension Agents.  Resource topics included Food Science, Human Nutrition, Food Service, Textiles, Home Care and other consumer topics.  Since that time, the Center has grown to be of valuable assistance to Kansas State University Extension Specialists in those areas.

Reviewed by:

M. Gayle Price, M.S., R.D., L.D.
Southeast Area Family and Consumer Science Specialist
K-State Research and Extension

Londa Nwadike, Ph.D
State Extension Specialist, Food Safety
K-State Research and Extension
University of Missouri Extension

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Decorating and Hunting Easter Eggs Safely

 

Decorating and hunting Easter eggs are a fun tradition for many families. I am also looking forward to starting this tradition with my two year-old.  However, we should all follow the food safety practices listed below to safely be able to eat those eggs afterwards.  Otherwise, the eggs should be discarded. 

-        Dyeing eggs: After hard-boiling and dyeing eggs, they should be returned to the refrigerator within 2 hours to keep them cold.  Be sure to use food-safe coloring if you are planning to eat the eggs.    Also make sure that everyone handling the eggs washes their hands first, as with any food product.

-       Hunting eggs: One of my earliest memories of witnessing a questionable food safety practice was seeing my cousin eat an Easter egg that we found outside on the ground about a week after the eggs were hidden. That was definitely not a safe practice! In fact, the total time that hard-boiled eggs should be out of the refrigerator while they are hid, hunted, and found is 2 hours. It is also not recommended to eat hard-boiled eggs that have been lying on the ground, because they can pick up bacteria, especially if the shells are cracked. Eggs should be hidden in places that are protected from dirt, moisture, and other sources of bacteria.  These “found” eggs must be washed, re-refrigerated and eaten within 7 days of cooking.

Hiding plastic eggs to hunt is the safest option for numerous reasons, particularly if a two-year old will be looking for them! If you want to hide the eggs on the ground or don’t want to have to worry about getting hard-boiled eggs back in the refrigerator within two hours to be able to eat them, using plastic eggs is definitely the best option.  

Enjoy your Easter eggs safely!  No one wants to have foodborne illness anytime, particular after a holiday, so following some simple food safety practices can help ensure that.  The information sources for this article, as well as more information on Easter egg safety and other food safety topics is available from: USDA, FoodSafety.gov, and Kansas State University Extension.

Londa Nwadike serves as State Extension Consumer Food Safety Specialist for both Kansas State University and the University of Missouri. Before moving to the Kansas City area for this position with her husband and 2 young children in July 2013, she served as Extension Food Safety Specialist for the University of Vermont, where she worked extensively with farmers market vendors and small scale food processors.   Londa grew up on a diversified family farm in eastern South Dakota. She worked in food safety for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), based in Rome, Italy for 5 years, and also has extensive experience living and working in Africa.

Reviewed by:

M. Gayle Price, M.S., R.D., L.D. Southeast Area Family and Consumer Science Specialist K-State Research and Extension

Lisa Martin, MPH, RD, LD.  County Extension Agent, K-State Research and Extension, Shawnee County

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Spring into Grilling Safely

 

Spring has sprung, including warmer temperatures, more day-light hours, and trees and plants are beginning to bloom. The warmer temperature and longer days allows me to do more outdoor cooking and grilling which I enjoy. If you like grilling and hosting family and friends for a back-yard barbecue or if you are like me, planning for an outdoor graduation celebration, here are some tips for keeping foods safe and having your cookout or celebration be a big hit.

When it comes to grilling, a food thermometer is a must. Checking internal temperatures of all grilled meat is necessary to help keep you, your family and friends from eating foods that are unsafe to eat. If you don’t have a food thermometer, I would suggest putting that on your next week’s shopping list. I consider a thermometer an essential tool for grilling and preparing food.  Using a food thermometer takes the guess work out of determining when grilled meats are cooked properly and safe to eat. Here is what is important to know when grilling:

  • Hamburgers and other ground beef, pork, veal and lamb should reach an internal temperature of 160°F
  • Hamburgers and other ground beef, pork, veal and lamb should reach an internal temperature of 160°F
  • Whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb and veal should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F
  • Cook all poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F
  • Pre-cooked and processed meats like hot dogs to 165°F
  • Fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F

Color is not a reliable measure of doneness. When checking the internal temperature of grilled meat always check in the thickest part of the product. Check for proper internal temperatures in at least two locations on the food to ensure even cooking occurred. When removing cooked meat from the grill, make sure to place it on a clean plate, not the same one used for the raw food prior to cooking. The juices from the raw meat can spread bacteria to safely cooked food. 

Always using a food thermometer when preparing or grilling food and practicing safe food handling helps ensure that you are doing what you can to keep yourself and others healthy while reducing the risks of food related illnesses. You can find lots of reliable information and food safety tips on our website at: www.ksre.ksu.edu/foodsafety

Need more food and fitness focused tips and information follow us on Facebook.

References:

Is it Done Yet? – USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services.                                     

Grill Master. Fight Bac! -Partnership for Food Safety Education.          

Author: M. Gayle Price, M.S., RDN, LD, Extension Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences, Nutrition Food Safety and Health, Kansas State University Research and Extension.  gprice@ksu.edu   On Twitter at @rdcoach

Reviewers: 

Dr. Londa Nwadike, Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor, Food Safety. Kansas State University Research and Extension, March 2014.

Lori Wuellner, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Kansas State University Research and Extension, Wyandotte County, March 2014.

      Gayle Price, Extension Specialist and Professor, M.S., R.D.N., L.D., Kansas State University Research and Extension, Southeast Area.  As a “change agent’ her passion and interests is in nutrition, food safety and wellness especially working with schools and communities to make healthy choices the easy choice.  She is married and has two adult children.

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Food and Fitness Confusion

 

The Best Fat Burning Foods!

Five Foods You Should Avoid!  

Only 10 Minutes a Day to a Trimmer Body!

Do the latest news headlines leave you confused about what to do to be healthy?

Welcome to Food and Fitness Focus, health and wellness information you can trust. Join us each week as Kansas County Extension Agents and Specialists share up-to-date and credible information on food, fitness, nutrition and wellness.

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