Photo credit: UF/IFAS NW District
Rice and pasta are a staple of most family meals. But did you know these simple grains can lead to a foodborne illness? Uncooked rice and pasta can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that can cause foodborne illness. These spores can survive even when rice or pasta is cooked. If the rice or pasta is left standing at room temperature, like in a pot on the stove, these spores can grow into bacteria. These bacteria will then multiply and produce toxins (poisons) that can cause foodborne illness. Bacillus cereus, sometimes called B. cereus, can cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.
Preventing Contamination by B. Cereus
Because B. cereus endospores are heat resistant, they are likely to survive cooking at temperatures that would destroy other foodborne pathogens. Bacillus cereus spores can grow when exposed to heat or improper handling.
Recommendations for Proper Handling of Rice and Pasta:
- Cook rice and pasta at 135ºF or above and maintain at that temperature outside of the refrigerator.
Serve rice or pasta as soon as it is cooked.
- Cool in the refrigerator at 41ºF or below within 2 hours of cooking.
- Store rice or pasta in the fridge using a shallow container or resealable bags.
- Cooked rice or pasta can be stored in airtight containers in the fridge for 3 – 5 days.
- Do not reheat rice or pasta more than once.
During the holidays, celebrations usually center around family and good food, and, therefore, our refrigerators easily can become full. We tend to leave rice or pasta out on the stove when there isn’t any room in the fridge. This is where the problem occurs. By following proper food handling techniques, you can ensure that everyone enjoys the holidays and the fabulous foods that are part of the festivities.
To learn more about Bacillus cereus or other foodborne illnesses, contact your UF/IFAS County Extension Office.
UF/IFAS Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS), Preventing Foodborne Illness: Bacillus cereus
The Number of Food Poisoning Cases Caused by Bacillus cereus is on the Rise. (2015, April 1). Infection Control Today. Retrieved from https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/food-safety/number-food-poisoning-cases-caused-bacillus-cereus-rise
Meatless Burger Alternatives
If you have been watching television lately, you may have seen commercials for meatless burgers that are making a splash. Many restaurants including Burger King and Red Robin are now offering this alternative meat source on their menus. https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper, https://www.redrobin.com/burgers/impossible-burger.html,
Beyond Beef™ and Impossible Burgers™ are two of the meat alternatives created by The Beyond Meat ™ https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/ and The Impossible Foods https://impossiblefoods.com/ companies. The Beyond Burger™ and Impossible Burger™ are similar in ingredients, color and texture, and they actually taste like…meat!
According to Emily Gelsomin, in the August 19th edition of Harvard Health Publishing, “Plant-based burgers are not a novel concept. But new products designed to taste like meat are now being marketed to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike”. Gelsomin suggests that meatless burgers are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
But What Are They?
Keep in mind that meatless burgers are created in a lab, not in a pasture. Meatless burgers look, sizzle, and even “bleed” like a regular hamburger. But they contain no animal protein and are a completely plant-based patty. This plant-based protein is a blend of potato and soy proteins. Meatless burger alternatives get their red color and “bleeding” effect from beet juice. Meatless burgers sizzle while being cooked because of sunflower and coconut oils, the meatless burger’s fat sources. To hold everything together, meatless burgers contain methylcellulose, a bulk-forming fiber source.
Are Meatless Burgers Safe?
Yes, meatless burgers are safe to eat, unless you are allergic to soy, coconut or sunflower.
The Good News:
Meatless burgers contain less sodium, cholesterol and fat than traditional beef or ground turkey patties do. Meatless burgers contain 2-3 grams of fiber per serving, whereas traditional hamburger patties contain no fiber.
The Bad News:
Just because they are a plant-based alternative to meat, doesn’t mean that they are healthier for you. The calories found in a meatless burger are similar to a traditional beef patty and meatless burgers are heavily processed and high in saturated fat.
How Do These Meatless Burger Alternatives Compare Nutritionally to Ground Beef and Ground Turkey Patties?
Source: Harvard Health Blog. Impossible and Beyond: How healthy are these meatless burgers? August 15, 2019.
The Bottom Line:
Meatless burgers such as The Impossible Burger™ and Beyond Burger™ are unique alternatives, although nutritionally not that different from a traditional hamburger patty. However, due to its popularity, companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have struggled to keep up with the demand.
Contact your local Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent to learn more about meatless alternatives.
Shopping for Health, Vegetarian Diets https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FS/FS16700.pdf
What is Stress Anyway?
The traffic is awful, a report is due, the laundry is piling up, and the kids are fighting. Life is full of stress! According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is how the brain and body respond to any physical, mental, and/or emotional demand. Not all stress is bad. For example, stress can help motivate us to get things done. When faced with a threat or stressful event, our bodies produce hormones such as epinephrine, which can cause a temporary rise in our heart rate and blood pressure. Chronic, un-managed stress can cause long-term symptoms including headaches, high blood pressure and even problems sleeping.
Identify the Sources of Stress in Your Life
Feeling stressed is normal, but some people cope with stress better than others. Our thoughts, lifestyle and emotions can affect how much stress we endure. We must identify the causes of our stress before we can begin to manage them. Although the causes of stress are similar for both men and women, it is how we recognize and manage our stress that makes us different.
Common Causes of Stress:
• Work or unemployment
• Money, finances
• Drug or alcohol abuse
• Family breakdown
• Health issues
• Major life changes
What are the Symptoms of Stress?
Our bodies automatically respond to stressors in our lives. However, constant and uncontrolled stress can lead to serious physical and mental consequences. No matter how stressful your life seems, we must recognize the warning signs of stress and take action.
Watch out for the following warning signs:
• Feeling tired, not sleeping properly
• Loss of concentration and an inability to complete projects
• Irritability, low self-esteem or mood swings
• Feeling tense or anxious
• Feeling unmotivated
• Withdrawing from family and friends
• Excessive drinking and/or drug use
• Physical signs such as headaches, chest pains, high blood pressure, digestive problems or aches and pains
Men and Woman Handle Stress Differently
How stress affects you may depend upon your gender. Men and women recognize and react to stress in different ways, both mentally and physically.
When feeling stressed, women reach out to friends and family. They seek support to lower their stress and find a solution to their challenges. By talking about their emotions, women are able to process their feelings and share the pressure of their situation.
When men experience stressful situations, they are likely to hide their feelings or change the subject to escape a stressful situation. Men find it hard to talk about their feelings or ask for help when faced with pressures from their job, family issues or money worries. Men prefer to play sports or listen to music to manage stress.
Stress Reduction Strategies for Men and Women
Stress is a normal part of life, but chronic stress can be bad for our health. Stress management means taking control of your thoughts, emotions, and lifestyle. Making simple changes in your life such as maintaining a network of close friends, exercising, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep can help reduce your overall stress.
The American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2010/gender-stress
The National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml
The Electronic Data Information Source of UF/IFAS Extension. EDIS: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY51700.pdf
To learn more about how to cope with stress, contact Laurie Osgood, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Gadsden County (850) 875-7255 or Osgoodlb@ufl.edu
Regular vehicle maintenance can help you avoid expensive repairs. Photo credit: UF/IFAS Northwest District
A car is one of the biggest investments we will make. With proper car maintenance, you can increase safety, improve performance, and save money in the long run. According to AAA, big improvements in powertrain technology, lubricant, and rust prevention have led to improvements in automobile reliability, longevity, and durability. With proper care, almost any car can make it well past the 100,000-mile mark.
TIPS FOR PROLONGING THE LIFE OF YOUR CAR
• Do some research and purchase a safe, reliable vehicle
• Stick to the recommended car maintenance schedule
• Buy high quality parts: engine oil, battery, tires, etc.
• Keep your car clean, inside and out
• Know what to look for if your car is beginning to show signs of trouble
WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR CAR MAY BE HEADED FOR TROUBLE
You know your car, and, therefore, you are the best judge of when it’s acting differently. There are signs your car may exhibit that will warn you of a potential problem. It could be a light, a sound, or an unusual smell. Consumer Reports recommends at the first sign of trouble, you should take your car to a reliable mechanic.
Lights that appear on your dashboard are connected to sensors that monitor everything your car does. If your car senses that something isn’t quite right, the computer will use these lights to tell you what it is. If any of these lights appear, your mechanic will be able to hook up your vehicle to a diagnostic scan tool to identify the trouble and find out exactly what’s prompting the light to turn on.
Pay attention to these warning lights, as they could indicate a problem with your vehicle:
• Check Engine
• Check Oil/Oil Level Low
• Oil Pressure Low
You know your car and the sounds it normally makes, but new or different sounds can be a sign of trouble. These sounds can be a clue to what’s going on under the hood. GEICO Insurance offers a list of these sounds and their possible causes.
Sounds and Possible Causes
- A sound like a coin rattling inside a tin can: Could be a loose lug nut inside the hub cap.
- Brakes squealing or grinding: Your brake pads or shoes might need to be replaced. Pads may be worn, and the sound is metal on metal.
- A snapping, popping, or clicking sound when you turn a corner: One or both of the constant velocity (CV) joints on your front axle could need to be replaced.
- A rhythmic squeak that speeds up as you accelerate: This could indicate a problem with the universal joints (U-joints) in the driveshaft.
- A howling, whining, or even “singing” sound: Bearings, which are small metal balls that help parts rotate smoothly, may not be properly working.
- A rhythmic clunking, tapping, or banging from under the hood: This could indicate a problem with valves, pistons, or connecting rods. Rough, bumpy motions could be caused by faulty spark plugs, clogged fuel lines, or a bad fuel filter.
- A squealing sound from under the hood at start-up or when accelerating: This sound could be caused by worn or loose accessory belts for the power steering pump, air conditioner compressor, alternator, or the serpentine belt.
Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide are contained in a car’s exhaust system. If you smell a foul or strong smell while inside your car, this may be a sign of a serious problem. You should have it checked by a mechanic as soon as possible. If oil or coolant is leaking, this may mean hazardous exhaust gases are entering the interior of your car.
The smell of rubber burning could be a signal that your car’s drive belts or accessory belts underneath the hood are damaged, worn, or loose. These belts will need to be replaced as soon as possible to prevent more problems.
Smoke can come from the front or back of your car. Smoke coming from beneath the car’s hood most likely means your engine is overheating, and you should bring it to a mechanic right away. The color of the smoke coming out of your exhaust pipe can give you a clue about what may be going on inside your engine.
Blue Smoke: This could mean oil is escaping from somewhere within the engine and is being burned along with the gasoline. If you see blue smoke, your mechanic should look for damaged or worn seals in the engine.
White Smoke: May mean antifreeze or water condensation may have mixed in with the gasoline. You should have it checked out as soon as possible.
Mechanics agree that preventive maintenance, including regular oil changes and belt replacement, can help to extend the life of your car. Car maintenance can be an inconvenience that requires time, planning, and effort. But, in the long run, the benefits of driving a safe car outweigh the cost and aggravation.
For more information on how to save money by properly maintaining your car, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.
Consumer Reports: https://www.consumerreports.org/car-repair-maintenance/make-your-car-last-200-000-miles/
January 24th is Global Belly Laugh Day!
Make health and wellness a part of your calendar and daily routine.
Photo source: UF/IFAS Northwest District
Each year, we celebrate many holidays, but there are also many observances and commemorations scheduled throughout the calendar year. Some are odd, like National Science Fiction Day, Word Nerd Day, and even National Dinosaur Day. Others serve as a good opportunity to raise awareness about important health topics and remind us to take control of our health.
Celebrating the new year means leaving the past behind, making positive changes, and the continuation of success and happiness. National observances such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Family Health History Day, and World AIDS Day help us come together to spread awareness and show support for each other.
Organizations such as the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and American Lung Association have created nationwide awareness month campaigns to draw attention to some of the leading causes of death in America. Other observances, such as Take a Loved One to the Doctor Month from the Florida Department of Health, encourage people to take charge of their own health and to urge their loved ones to do the same.
So, as you are looking forward to the new year, make health and wellness a part of your calendar and daily routine.
UF/IFAS Extension wishes you and your family a year fully loaded with happiness, prosperity, and health.
To learn more about health observances and how to encourage your loved ones to take control of their health, contact Laurie Osgood, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Gadsden County, (850) 875-7255, or firstname.lastname@example.org