Summer is here and beach season is upon us! Cookouts and picnics are longtime summer traditions, generally a time for family and friends to socialize and have fun while enjoying food and sunshine. Since these gatherings most often occur outside, food safety is very important. Hot summer temperatures can easily cause food bacteria to multiply quickly and can quickly ruin summer afternoon plans. Remembering to prepare and store food safely this summer can keep your picnics safe and fun. Below are the four important food safety steps to follow this summer:
Clean: Bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including utensils, your hands and cutting boards. Make sure to always wash your hands for 20 seconds using warm and soapy water. Always use clean utensils to prevent the possibility of cross contamination and the spread of bacteria. Also, when you are preparing fresh fruits and vegetables, make sure to wash them even if you plan to peel them. It is important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside of the produce to the inside once you peel or cut them open.
Separate: Always keep raw poultry, eggs and meat separate from your fresh read-to-eat foods. This prevents the possibility for cross-contamination at any potential time of contact. When storing these items in the fridge they should always be stored in containers or plastic bags and placed on the bottom shelf to prevent the possibility of their juices dripping onto fresh produce items.
Cook: Cooking food to the proper temperature is very important. Bacteria grows the quickest in the “Danger Zone” between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit. Always make sure to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. You can learn more about BBQ food safety here: Barbecue and Food Safety. Also, it is important to know what temperatures are considered safe when cooking, please refer to this list: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures.
Chill: Once your picnic is over it is important to cool foods properly to prevent food borne illness. It is important to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours; however, in the summer months, it is best to get food into the fridge within an hour. Also, never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Since bacteria can multiply quickly at room temperature, this common practice is very risky. Instead of thawing foods on the counter you have a few food safe options:
1. Thaw in the Fridge: This is the safest way to thaw meat. Place the item on a plate or in a pan, and place it in the fridge to thaw.
2. Thaw in Cold Water: If you need to thaw something a bit quicker, place the frozen item in an airtight plastic bag and submerge it under COLD water. Make sure to change the water every 30 minutes so the water stays cold.
3. Thaw in the Microwave: Each microwave has individualized instructions for thawing so check your owner’s manual. If thawing by cold water or microwave make sure to cook the item immediately after thawing.
4. Cook without Thawing: If you don’t have enough time to thaw, you can cook your food from a frozen state but make sure to check the final temperature before eating since it does take longer to cook fully.
By following the four food safety steps listed above, you can ensure that you have a safe picnic and cookout this summer. Feel free to find additional information related to food safety as well as the ability to have a few food safety myths debunked by clicking here.
The Imperial Beach United Methodist Church supplies emergency food to the Imperial Beach community. This site has provided 76,700 pounds of USDA commodities, equivalent to 63,916 meals, in the past year. There is limited access to food resources in this area and this agency helps to ensure access to food for more than 200 households each month.
Pastor John Griffin has taken a unique and innovative approach to fighting hunger in this community. He has initiated a movement of cross-sector supporters to help. From local businesses to government entities, he wants to ensure everyone in the community pulls together to create a safety net for those people facing hunger. Meeting on a regular basis, this group coordinates food drives, fundraising efforts, and raises general awareness to the needs of the community. Pastor Griffin’s leadership is inspiring!
Janice Sartoria-Bollas leads this group’s distribution with confidence. She is incredibly dedicated to fighting hunger in the Imperial Beach community. We honor Imperial Beach United Methodist, because of her organizational skills, open communication and dedication.
Thank you to Imperial Beach United Methodist Church for your hunger-relief partnership. We are proud to honor you as EFAP’s May Nonprofit Partner of the Month.
We all need protein, but how much is enough? Most people (ages 9 and older) should eat 5 to 7 ounces of protein-rich foods each day. What does 5 to 7 ounces look like? Well to keep things simple here are some common portion size equivalents:
- 3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry is equivalent in size to a deck of cards or iPod
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or hummus is equal to 1 ping-pong ball (2 ounces)
- ½ cup cooked beans is equal to the size of 1 baseball (1 ounce)
- ¼ cup of nuts is equal to the size of 1 golf ball (1 ounce)
Protein comes in many forms whether it is from meat, poultry, and beans or dairy, so why is protein an important component of a healthy diet? Proteins are made up of amino acids and play many critical roles in the body. Protein is the building blocks of all of the body’s cells. They are important for the structure, function and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. So without enough protein in our daily diets, it could lead to detrimental effects on the entire body. Some examples of not obtaining enough protein include:
- Being tired or experiencing less energy
- When injured it can take much longer to recover
- You may get sick more often
We all need protein, and it is also recommended to vary our protein sources, which would include both animal (meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs) and plant (beans, peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds). Frozen proteins are also beneficial as well because they last longer and can generally be used for multiple meals (i.e. a whole frozen chicken can be eaten for a meal, leftovers stored and the bones can be used to create a soup stock). Looking for additional protein tips and ideas on how to switch up your protein routine? Check out 10 Tips for Choosing Protein.
Wednesday, April 22, marks the 45th annual Earth Day! With summer poking its head out and the weather warming up, it’s time to get back outside and move! According to a study published in Medicine Science Sports Exercise, being physically inactive is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke and is linked to cardiovascular mortality. Being active helps control weight, diabetes, and blood lipid abnormalities. It also strengthens bones and muscles which in turn prevents injuries. Physical activity is also known to improve your mood and mental health.
Being physically active is different for each person. Some people love to run; others may enjoy biking, kayaking, skating, walking, playing basketball, hiking, and so on. If you have kids don’t just watch them play, play with them! I encourage you to get moving! For those that already are active and for those that aren’t, challenge yourself daily to improve your overall health. Feel better, look better, and be healthier by incorporating moderate to vigorous activity daily. Live longer, move easier, and be happier! Looking for a few ideas to give back to Mother Earth, below you will find a few Earth friendly activity ideas.
- Start your own compost
- Plant a tree, new flower or vegetable plant
- Start Meatless Monday in your household
- Shop your local farmers market
In honor of Earth Day, check out the Earth Day Network where you can learn more about the history of the Earth Day environmental movement.
National Volunteer Week is here, and it serves as the perfect opportunity for nonprofit organizations like the San Diego Food Bank to give thanks to the people who play an important part in our mission to end hunger in San Diego County.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of any nonprofit – but with the SD Food Bank, they are an integral part of everything we do. Without their dedicated support, there is no way that we could spend 94% of every dollar on providing food to the 370,000 people we serve every month. We love our volunteers,” said Food Bank President and CEO, Jim Floros.
Last year, the Food Bank’s warehouse was visited 25,155 times by folks looking to help out their community, and together they spent a grand total of 53,727 hours assisting where needed.
Our awe-inspiring volunteers do everything from inspecting and sorting food donations to bagging fresh fruits and vegetables to packing nutritious meals for our senior client population. Sometimes, they can even be found lending a helping hand at one of our many food distribution sites giving fresh produce and nutritious food to those who face hunger in various neighborhoods.
“You come face to face with those in need and see how what we do in the warehouse directly affects the community we serve,” said longtime Food Bank volunteer, Paul Amberg.
The Food Bank will be honoring dozens of its volunteers like Amberg at its first-ever Volunteer Recognition Ceremony on Wednesday, April 15.
Are you interested in making an impact? Click here to register to be a volunteer for the San Diego Food Bank , and remember to check in on Facebook to share your experience with friends.
In the past year, the equivalent of more than 82,000 meals (98,963 pounds of food) have been distributed by this dedicated group of staff and volunteers of Nestor Methodist Church’s food program. Each month they provide nearly 300 households with emergency food, reaching more than 1,300 people facing hunger.
This site provides monthly EFAP packages in the South Bay area. Congratulations to the Nestor Methodist Church team for the amazing work you do!
April is National Gardening Month! As the warmer temperatures are upon us, it marks the perfect time to start your very own garden. So what are the benefits of having your own garden?
Nutritious and Tasty Food: Research has shown that home grown foods are usually more nutrient dense and sometimes freshly gardened produce can be tastier than store-bought produce.
Exercise: Gardening is a great rouce of exercise for the body and the mind. It serves as a great stress reliever, and it is a great way to get outside and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air. It also serves as a chance to use your creative side and design how you’d like your garden to look.
Save Money: Growing your own food can make stretching your food budget much easier when you can find your essential fruits and vegetables right in your own backyard!
Teaching Tool: Help educate the little ones in your life by teaching them how fruits and vegetables are grown and and what they look like before they arrive at the local supermarket. A garden serves as a great teaching tool for children to learn where their food comes from.
Balanced Diet: When you have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables, it makes it that much easier to consume more fruits and vegetables each and every day. You gain more appreciation for the growing process when it occurs in your own backyard.
Never grown your own food before? No problem! Planning My Garden is a great interactive tool that has growing guides on 15 different vegetables. Each growing guide includes where to plant, spacing and depth, special care instructions and most importantly, when to harvest!
If you are interested in trying out your green thumb skills but don’t have the space, you can look into container gardening. Here is a great easy 4-step guide to get your small garden started. Celebrate National Gardening Month this month by starting your own small garden this spring! Happy digging!
While having a picky child may be stressful, it is (in most cases) a normal part of development. Disliking a new fruit or vegetable the first time they try it is a very normal reaction. As long as their refusal doesn’t involve all foods, it’s generally not a problem.
In this case, persistence counts. In order to feel comfortable eating something, the child often has to become familiar with it. So make sure the food is visible by having it on the table and available to them. If many attempts have been made to introduce a food to the child and they continually reject it, consider taking it off the table and reintroducing it in about a month’s time.
Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters. Getting your child to try new foods can often feel like a chore, but you can make this challenge easier by using the following strategies:
1. Don’t become a short order cook. If your child is refusing to eat certain foods, you may be tempted to provide a separate meal. However, giving your child too many options for meals might only complicate things. If they know you’ll make them something else they already like, they won’t take the opportunity to try new foods.
2. Make mealtime a sit-down event. When kids are constantly eating on the go, they get used to fast-food items and other foods that can be easily taken on the road. These typically do not include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Plus, getting kids used to eating meals at the table gives them the opportunity to try new foods.
3. Plan your snacks. Allowing kids to graze all day long might cause them to not be hungry when it comes time for dinner and not be willing to try new foods. Separate snacks from meals and make snack time a planned, sit-down event. And there should be at least an hour or two between a snack and a meal to allow time for the child to become hungry again.
4. Don’t make a big issue of it. Besides raising your own stress level, making a big fuss over a picky eater can be pointless. If a child realizes that refusing food gets them a lot of attention, they might keep doing it, especially at a younger age.
5. Make it fun. Consider making it ‘Yellow Day,’ when you and the kids have to wear something yellow and also pick out a yellow fruit or vegetable to eat. Involving the kids in choosing the foods, and maybe even helping to cook them, can also spark their interest and is another way to build familiarity with a new food.
6. Hide the ingredients. You can easily get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables by hiding them in foods they already enjoy. While it’s a great way to get kids to fulfill their daily servings, it’s important to recognize that this should not be your only approach to encouraging healthy eating. Kids need to acquire a taste for fruits and vegetables alone, so that they don’t grow up avoiding them.
In the past year, 381,407 pounds of food (the equivalent of 317,839 meals) were distributed by this dedicated group of staff and volunteers at the Fallbrook Food Pantry. They operate a comprehensive program, utilizing a variety of resources available to them. About 1/3 of the product they distribute is EFAP commodities, 1/3 is fresh produce and another 1/3 is non-perishable food from the San Diego Food Bank’s Food Center. Fallbrook truly has a pulse on the needs of their community and accesses a variety of food sources to meet those needs.
Operations Manager Jennifer Vetch and her team ensure that monthly reports are submitted on time and communicate frequently with Food Bank staff to ensure their community’s needs are met. Because of their impeccable communication, commitment to serve their community and incredible resourcefulness, Fallbrook Food Pantry has been selected a March’s Agency of the Month.
In addition to providing EFAP packages monthly and operating an ongoing food pantry, Fallbrook operates a Neighborhood Distribution on the last Wednesday of each month. Last year, they distributed more than 160,000 pounds of fresh produce to their community. A key focus on nutrition is at the forefront of this program’s services.
Congratulations to the Fallbrook Food Pantry team for the amazing work you do!
With springtime and planting season right around the corner, it is time to start thinking about how we can create a healthy growing environment. Composting does just that! It provides much more nutrient-rich growing soil (ensuring bigger and better plants) while providing a sustainable recycling option for consumers and reducing overall waste.
There are quite a few things that we throw away that could be composted and used to benefit the environment. Just about anything that is not man-made can be composted such as egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit rinds/peels, unused pieces of fruit/vegetables, tea bags, lawn trimmings, nut shells, pits of fruits, stale cereal or grain items, most paper products and much more! These items decompose and break down into a nutrient-rich soil, which is used to help plants grow. Wondering where to start? Follow the steps below and you will have plenty of nutrient-rich soil in no time!
Here’s what you need!
- Carbon-rich “brown” materials such as leaves, straw, dead flowers from your garden and shredded newspaper.
- Nitrogen-rich “green” materials such as grass clippings, plant-based kitchen waste (vegetable peelings and fruit rinds, but no meat scraps), or barnyard animal manure (even though its color is usually brown, manure is full of nitrogen like the other “green” stuff). However, do not use manure from carnivores, such as cats or dogs.
- A shovelful or two of garden soil.
- A site that’s at least 3 feet long by 3 feet wide. Ideally, choose a spot that gets sunlight and shade at different times of the day near a reliable water source.
Here’s what to do!
1. Start by spreading a layer that is several inches thick of dry brown stuff like straw, cornstalks or leaves, where you want to build the pile.
2. Top that with several inches of green stuff.
3. Add a thin layer of soil.
4. Add a layer of brown stuff.
5. Moisten the three layers with water.
Continue layering green stuff and brown stuff with a little soil mixed in until the pile is 3 feet high. Try to add stuff in a ration of three parts brown to one part green. (If it takes a while before you have enough material to build the pile that high, don’t worry. Just keep adding to the pile until it gets to at least3 feet high.) As time goes on, continue adding scraps from the yard/kitchen working to the top of the pile and mist it with water.
You don’t need a compost bin to make compost. You simply need a pile that is at least 3 x 3 x 3 feet. A pile this size will have enough mass to decompose without a bin. Many gardeners buy or build compost bins, because they want to keep the pile neat. Some bins are even designed to make turning the compost easier or protect it from soaking rains. If you choose to not use a bin and have your pile outdoors, consider using a tarp to loosely cover the pile, especially if you live in a very rainy area. This also helps seal in moisture, speeding up the decomposition process.
Starting your own compost pile can be a great activity to get the entire family involved in the growing process. Starting a compost pile is the perfect first step to take in order to create your own backyard garden. Happy growing!
Steps to creating your own compost pile adapted from: Organic Gardening
Other Gardening Resources: