Your freezer was created to preserve food for long periods of time. But filling it with junk can sabotage any healthy eating plan. Here are five items worth purchasing, and five you’re better off passing up.
After nearly 300 people became sick from salmonella in 18 states, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert. The culprit is raw chicken produced at three Foster Farms facilities in California. Luckily, proper handling of poultry can help prevent illness. To do so, make sure to follow these five food safety rules.
#1: Defrost Properly
Those days of defrosting on your counter top overnight are long gone. One bacterium can multiply to 1 billion over 10 hours—something you don’t want to fool around with. To properly defrost chicken, place it in the refrigerator on a tray the night before. If you have smaller pieces of chicken, you can defrost in the microwave (look for the “defrost” button), as long as you cook them immediately after.
#2: Store Chicken Properly
When placing raw chicken in the refrigerator, make sure it is wrapped and stored on a lower shelf. Only proper cooking can destroy the bacteria, so foods that will not be further cooked (like cheese, veggies or fruit) should be placed above the raw chicken so the chicken juices won’t drip on them.
#3: Skip the Rinsing
Could it be that Julia Child’s habit of rinsing chicken has stuck with us after all these years? A recent study conducted at Drexel University found that 90% of folks still do it! For the first time, in 2005, the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans included food safety, and they advise against rinsing chicken before cooking. The reason is that those chicken juices get all over the place—other dishes, the inside of the sink and the counter tops–creating a bacterial playground.
- Cinnamon Bread Twists
- Rapid Rolls
- Marbled Banana Bread (above)
- Leftover Oatmeal Bread
- Slimmed Gingerbread
- Pumpkin Parmesan Biscuits
- Pumpkin Bread
These days, you can’t miss the yogurt aisle. Markets now have two, three or more cases designated to this creamy delight. But with so many choices, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and confused on which is healthiest.
Added vs. Natural Sugar
Before eyeballing any label, understand that you’ll find sugar in each any yogurt you pick up. Yogurt has natural sugar (called lactose) and unless it’s a plain variety it will also have sugar added for sweetness. The nutrition facts combine both the natural and added sugar under “sugars.” The only way to know if any sugar was added is to look at the ingredients list.
To keep in line with the recommendations from The American Heart Association, women should limit their sugar to no more than 6 teaspoons per day (or 100 calories’ worth) while men should eat a max of 9 teaspoons of sugar per day (or 150 calories). This means capping sugar to no more than 20 grams per serving, which would be about 2 teaspoons of added sugar.
Some brands use sugar substitutes instead of added sugar. This will help lower the total sugar amount–remember, you will still be getting natural sugar from the yogurt. I tend to shy away from those varieties and rather purchase a plain yogurt and flavor it myself with a touch of natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
These good bacteria are found in most yogurts help keep your digestive tract in working order. You can find the actual bacteria names under the ingredient list—look for words like L. acidophilus, L. casei, B. bifidum and B. Longum.
What, Where & When?
Chard (aka Swiss chard) is a member of the beet family, but doesn’t produce an edible bulb. This green leafy has crinkly green leaves and silver stalks resembling celery ribs. Both the leaves and stalks are edible and the flavor is a cross between spinach and beets. The stems have an earthier beet flavor but are still delicious (even if you’re not a huge beet fan).
Common varieties include Ruby Chard, Rhubarb Chard, and Rainbow Chard. Ruby Chard has bright red stalks and deep red veins while Rhubarb Chard has dark green leaves with a reddish stalk and a stronger flavor. Rainbow Chard are other colorful chard varieties bunched together. The stalk colors vary from pink, orange, red, purple, white with red stripes, and ivory with pink stripes. Chard is in season during late summer into fall.
You can make your own version and simply spoon it out of a bowl, but there’s much more you can do with applesauce. Enjoy it these five ways.
On You Dinner Plate
You may think of applesauce as strictly a snack or dessert, but mix it with light sour cream and nutmeg to serve alongside chicken or pork.
Lighter Baked Goodies
Replace half the butter in muffins, cakes or cookies with applesauce. This will save you calories and saturated fat while keeping your baked goodies moist and delicious.
Recipe: Apple Muffins
Pumpkins are fun to turn into Jack-o-lanterns, but you can use the flesh, seeds and empty pumpkin shell in your kitchen to make delicious and antioxidant-packed dishes. If cooking with fresh pumpkin is too labor intensive, use canned pumpkin puree (made from 100% pure pumpkin) to get the same nutritional goodness without the hassle.
Recipes to try:
- Slimmed Pumpkin Pie
- Pumpkin Oatmeal
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Pumpkin-Parmesan Biscuits
- Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds