October is one of my most favorite times of year. Fall is in the air and the temperatures are starting to “fall.” School is back in session for our kids. The holiday season is beginning. Did you know that October is also National Seafood Month? There is no better time than National Seafood Month to start trying new recipes with your family and digging into heart-healthy meals!
“For a healthy heart, the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating two, 3.5 oz servings of fish per week” (Picklo, 2020). According to the USDA, there are several studies that show that eating fish reduces risk of heart disease. Fish is an excellent source of protein, which is great for losing weight or building muscle. Fish is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help reduce blood clots, triglycerides, and irregular heartbeats.
Try to incorporate more seafood into your diet by adding it in twice a week. Fried shrimp or fish is so delicious but can contain more fat than we need to consume. For heart-healthy-conscious meals, consider baking or grilling the fish instead. You may be surprised at the delicious results. If you are unsure of where to start, take a look at the Med Instead of Meds curriculum. Many counties throughout the state of Florida are offering classes, in person and virtually.
Med Instead of Meds focuses on a Mediterranean diet and provides a variety of simple and delicious recipes! Recipes range from salmon and tuna burgers to fish tacos and much more! You can easily tweak the recipes to get creative with the herbs to make it your own dish. The possibilities are endless! Click here to visit the Med Instead of Meds website, created by a group of nutrition and health professionals from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Division of Public Health.
One of my personal favorite recipes from their website is the “Honey Balsamic Glazed Salmon.” This recipe is simple to make, but the results are oh so sweet. The balsamic and honey glaze complements the salmon in ways I could not imagine, so much so that my mouth is watering just thinking about it! My family does not like the rosemary taste as much, so we tend to use oregano or thyme instead. Again, a simple change that my family loves. Little do they know they are eating heart-healthy seafood!
When you look at your children, do you see a picture of a healthy, active child? The United States Pentagon just released a report stating “77% of young Americans would not qualify for military service without a waiver due to being overweight, using drugs, or having mental and physical health problems.” Even worse, this is a 6% increase from the previous study. No matter the wish of a parent or youth as to their desire for military service, this study paints a disturbing picture of the health of our youth in the United States. Where have things gone wrong and what could be some simple corrective actions?
Exercise is a word many people dislike. But reframing the chosen exercise activity as a family outing, such as a daily debriefing walk to discuss the day’s events or an indoor activity such as a basic yoga class at a local gym or via video at home, can be a fun, purposeful way to incorporate physical activity without it seeming like “exercise.” The point is to increase the activity level of not just the youth but also the parent or guardian.
Replacing sugar sweetened beverages with water or fruit-infused water is an easy way to decrease excessive caloric intake and provide better hydration. Water is a basic need of the body and performs many roles from joint health and nutrient delivery to cells to regulating body temperature and proper organ functions.
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future research indicates that persons who frequently prepare meals at home eat healthier. Eating more fruits and vegetable with attention to healthier preparation methods can lead to better health outcomes over time.
It’s time to paint a new picture with you as the role model. Slowly adjusting to the adoption of a healthier lifestyle can take time. Speak openly with the youth in your life and let them help to decide the changes they feel they can make. Place this in writing using SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. Revisit these goals and adjust them as needed. The reward over time could be a picture of health.
July is National Grilling Month, and there is nothing quite like the aroma of delicious food sizzling on the grill. However, it is important to prioritize safety when it comes to outdoor cooking to avoid any accidents or mishaps. Whether you are a seasoned grill master or a novice, here are six essential grilling safety tips to keep in mind for a worry-free barbecue experience.
Choose the right location. Selecting the appropriate location for grill setup is crucial to ensuring the safety of people and property. Place the grill on a stable, non-flammable surface, such as concrete or bricks, and ensure it is a safe distance away from any flammable objects like trees, fences, or wooden structures, or heat-sensitive objects like vinyl siding. Avoid grilling in enclosed spaces, such as garages or covered patios, as it can lead to carbon monoxide buildup. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause death if inhaled in a large enough quantity. Grilling in open spaces will allow this gas to dissipate to safe levels.
Keep a safe zone. Establish a designated “safety zone” around the grill to prevent accidents and injuries. Create a clear area of at least three feet in all directions, free from children, pets, and any foot traffic. This zone will provide a buffer between the hot grill and any potential hazards, reducing the risk of burns or accidental contact.
Practice proper handling of propane. When using a gas propane grill, it is essential to handle the propane cylinder with care. Always inspect the cylinder for any signs of damage, rust, or leaks before connecting it to the grill. When transporting or storing propane cylinders, ensure they are in an upright position and never place them in hot or enclosed spaces. When connecting or disconnecting the cylinder, make sure all burners are turned off, and never smoke or place any other open flames (such as citronella candles) near the grill.
Follow proper food safety practices. Safe food preparation practices are just as important as the grilling process itself. Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards, utensils, and plates for raw and cooked foods. Keep perishable items refrigerated until they are ready to be cooked, and don’t let them sit out in the heat for too long. In hot summer temperatures, food should not sit out longer than two hours. If the temperature is 90 degrees F or higher, the time limit is one hour. Use a food thermometer to ensure that meats such as poultry are cooked thoroughly and reach the appropriate internal temperature to prevent foodborne illnesses. Contact the Extension office for a list of proper internal cooking temperatures for different food types.
Monitor the grill. Never leave the grill unattended while it is in use. Grilling requires constant attention to avoid accidents and flare-ups. Stay vigilant and keep a close eye on the grill at all times. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, ideally a Class B or multipurpose one, and know how to use it effectively. In case of a grease fire, never use water to extinguish it, as it can cause the flames to spread. Instead, use baking soda or a fire extinguisher specifically designed for grease fires.
Clean the grill. Maintaining a clean grill is not only essential for food safety but also for preventing flare-ups and extending the life of the grill. After each use, scrub the grates with a grill brush to remove any residue. Additionally, periodically inspect and clean the burner tubes and ports to prevent clogs and ensure proper gas flow.
By following these six grilling safety tips, outdoor cooking can be safe and fun.
How many of you feel like your days are go, go, go and feel tired and uninspired by the time you get home to make dinner? I am in the same boat and have decided my fast, go to dinners are now sheet pan meals. Add protein(s) (of your choice) and vegetables (of your choice) tossed in oil and spices (of your choice) and place it in the oven to cook, and you have dinner ready in less than an hour. My favorite part of these meals is that you and your family choose the foods you like and make them your own. This makes it easy to please everyone – even picky eaters – and you can mix it up with different proteins and vegetables to keep it from getting boring.
These meals are great for introducing new vegetables and proteins to children and adults. Why is it important to eat vegetables? Eating a diet rich in vegetables provides your body with important nutrients for proper health and maintenance, protects against certain types of cancers, and helps reduce your risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and stroke.
Be sure to check out the MyPlate Vegetable Group table for more information. The Vegetable Group is divided into five subgroups: Dark-Green Vegetables, Red and Orange Vegetables, Starchy Vegetables, Beans, Peas, and Lentils, and Other Vegetables. When you click on each subgroup it gives you a list of vegetables. Be sure to eat a variety of different vegetables for the most health benefit. It is recommended for us to eat many types of vegetables in a variety of colors to get the proper amount of nutrients we need.
These balanced sheet pan meals are also very easy for cleanup. You use one sheet pan for the entire meal. I highly recommend putting parchment paper down on your sheet pan before adding any ingredients. It will make the cleanup so much easier. There may still be some oil that needs to be washed off the pan, but nothing will get stuck or will need to soak before cleaning it.
As a busy, working adult I highly recommend the sheet pan meals to make your evenings easier and to diversify your meals and types of foods you enjoy at dinner. Happy Easy Meal Prep/Cleanup! Enjoy your delicious, nutritious sheet pan meal.
Since I can recall, I’ve liked to read cookbooks. Old cookbooks, famous cookbooks, church cookbooks, regional and seasonal cookbooks, and cookbooks hot off the press! I read the forward and the preface (… if there is one). I don’t just look at the pictures, but I read the recipe for yield (number of servings), ingredients and amounts, and the way the ingredients are combined. I read about the equipment required to prepare the recipe and the amount of time it takes to complete the task.
A narrative format is common with many older or handwritten recipes. Photo credit: Heidi Copeland
Generally, I have found that old cookbook recipes often seem different and that handwritten, handed-down recipes tend to be vague. I also have found that the product does not always turn out like the picture. Yields – the amount a recipe feeds – has certainly changed over time and recipe ingredients have become more and more varied, as has their use. Who knew toasting spices completely changes their flavor profile and that umami is important?
It used to be that people learned to cook by watching someone else. However, that seriously changed as more and more folks became literate. In fact, the first cookbook published in the United States, American Cookery (Hartford Connecticut 1796), has been designated by The Library of Congress as one of the 88 books that shaped America. This first cookbook used uniquely American ingredients of the time and provided American cooks with quite a litany of receipts, the old-world way of documenting what we now call a recipe.
Recently, I listened to a radio interview with Adrien Miller, a cookbook author who has been on a quest to document uniquely African American cooking histories.
I chuckled to hear Adrien Miller describe a handwritten recipe from a friend or a relative as a lesserpe… his terminology for the unexacting nature of a recipe given from someone who really doesn’t need an exact rendition because they know what they are doing and assume you do, too.
Recipes are a great way to hand down our own historical traditions. However, having been charged with giving out a lesserpe…, I find it is critically important to be as exacting as possible when sharing recipes with friends or family.
A good, standard format for a recipe includes:
Name of product
Yield of product (how many it serves)
Ingredients in exact amounts (in order of use is helpful)
Step-by-step instructions, in detail
Time and temperature specifics
Important information about pan size, etc.
Remember, too, that a recipe is a history. History evolves. Aunt Margaret might have written a narrative format (paragraph) recipe but today that form might be seen as hard to follow.
Here is an example from Aunt Margaret:
Apple Pie (2 crust)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie pan with your favorite crust. Combine and sift together 1/2 – 2/3 cup white sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Combine and sift over apples (about 3#, cut up). Stir apples gently until well coated. Place in pie shell and dot with butter. Cover pie, slit or prick crust. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake until done.
The typically formatted recipe:
Apple Pie (Aunt Margaret)
Serves 8 to 10
2 pie crusts, purchased or homemade
3 pounds Granny Smith apples, approximately 8 large apples
1/2 cup white sugar, more if you like it sweeter
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, firm, sliced thin
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cream
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Wash, peel, core, and slice the apples thinly.
In a large bowl, toss sliced apples with sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Line 9” pie pan with 1 piecrust
Mound the apple mixture in the center of the pie crust.
Dot the apple mixture with sliced butter.
Cover apples with 2nd pie crust.
Crimp edges of the pie crust. (Press the top and bottom dough rounds together as you flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with a fork.)
Mix egg yolk and cream, brush all over the pie crust top.
Stick with fork tines in a dozen places or vent with small knife-made slits.
Bake 15 minutes in the preheated 425°oven.
Reduce the temperature to 375°. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft and the crust is golden brown.
Transfer the apple pie to a rack to cool for at least 1 hour.
Serve warm or cold.
Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips before you bake it.
At any point during the baking, if the top of the pie begins to brown too much, just tent it with aluminum foil.
Your dad does not like nutmeg. I add a splash of vanilla, a bit more cinnamon, and omit the nutmeg.
Don’t forget the vanilla bean ice-cream. It adds a nice touch!
This holiday season, don’t be blamed for sharing less than the whole recipe. Recipes can be a valuable tool for passing on important family food traditions, now and into the distant future. Learn to write a good recipe with details. You might just be the talk of the table for eons.
Stock up on canned fruits, vegetables, meats, and heat-and-eat soups for your hurricane food supply kit. Photo source: UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.
Now that we are officially in Hurricane Season (June1-November 30) and named storms are paying a call to the Sunshine State, it’s time to make sure we are prepared.
At the top of the list is planning meals for you and your family. Many people grab snack-type foods, such as crackers, cookies, and chips, or whatever is available on store shelves when the storm is approaching without having a meal plan in mind. Use MyPlate as a guide to plan meals to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and dairy products. Foods from each food group provide important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to properly fuel your body so you are better equipped to deal with the challenges and stresses that accompany hurricanes and other disasters.
Plan a two-week supply of nonperishable or canned food and juices that require little or no cooking and no refrigeration. Include healthy snacks and any special foods for infants, senior adults, or persons with specific dietary needs. Select foods your family likes and will eat. Plan meals and shop early before a storm is on the horizon so you have a greater food selection and can take advantage of sales to stock up at a reduced cost. Keep planned written menus that have worked well for you and your family inside your hurricane food supply kit in a re-sealable plastic bag.
Brenda Marty-Jimenez, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with UF/IFAS Extension Broward County, offers the following menu suggestions:
Apple juice • ready-to-eat cereal • small boxes of raisins • breakfast bars with fruit • shelf-stable skim milk • tea or instant coffee • water
Orange juice • hot cereal/instant oatmeal • banana • muffin • shelf-stable skim milk • tea or instant coffee • water
Grape juice •ready-to-eat cereal • canned peaches • yogurt • bread with jam or jelly • shelf-stable skim milk • tea or instant coffee • water
Chunky beef soup (ready-to-eat style that only needs heating) • crackers • carrot and celery sticks • nuts • fruit cups packed in water • vanilla wafers • shelf-stable skim milk • tea or instant coffee • water
Canned cream soup (ready-to-eat style that only needs heating) • tuna sandwich on whole-wheat bread • tomato slices • unsweetened applesauce • cookies • shelf-stable skim milk • tea or instant coffee • water
Canned chili with beans (ready-to-eat style that only needs heating) • dinner rolls with margarine or butter • broccoli florets • canned fruit • animal crackers • shelf-stable skim milk • tea or instant coffee • water
Canned meat or cheese ravioli • three-bean salad (canned) • fresh yellow apples • bread with margarine or butter • fat-free pudding cup • shelf-stable skim milk • tea or instant coffee • water
Egg-salad sandwich on whole-wheat bread • canned green beans • canned fruit • fat-free pudding cup • shelf-stable skim milk • tea or instant coffee • water
Mac and cheese • canned vegetable • fresh pears • dinner rolls with margarine or butter • cookies • shelf-stable skim milk • tea or instant coffee • water
Remember the four key food safety principles: Cook, Clean, Chill, and Separate.
Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of cooked foods.
Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. Sanitize food preparation and cooking surfaces regularly.
Put leftovers in sealed bags or shallow containers and pack on ice or store in the refrigerator if it is running on a generator. Dispose of food that has been at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour if the temperature is 90oF or above) or has an off-odor, color, or texture.
Toss out food that has come in contact with contaminated flood water. Do not eat foods from dented, swollen, or corroded cans, even though the food may appear safe to eat.