Category Archives: Healthy Living

Keeping Food Safe During a Winter Power Outage

Tips for keeping your food safe if you lose power in the middle of a severe weather event.

Depending on where you live power outages can be a common problem. It’s likely if you live in such an area you know what to do but maybe you don’t experience a power outage very often, especially in the middle of winter, and you aren’t quite sure how to keep your food safe and minimize the risk of spoilage. Below are some tips to help you keep food safe during a winter power outage.

Power outages can occur at any time, none of which are convenient, and can last from several hours to a few days. If food isn’t kept cold it can become unsafe for consumption. According to the USDA, bacteria in food grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 °F, and if these foods are consumed, people can become very sick.

Preparing for a Weather Emergency

  • Keep a thermometer in the freezer and refrigerator. It will help you determine the temperature in case of a power outage. Ideally, your freezer should be at 0 °F or below and the refrigerator should be below 40 °F.
  • Freeze containers of water, ice packs, gel packs, etc that you can later use to help keep foods cold.
  • Food that can be frozen (left overs, etc) should be. It will help keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Have a couple coolers handy to help keep food cold if the power is going to be out longer than 4 hours.

Keeping Your Food Safe When Power is Out

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep the cold air in. An unopened refrigerator will keep food safe for approximately 4 hours. A full freezer will keep food safe for about 48 hours; less if it isn’t full.
  • According to the USDA, you don’t want to place food outside during a power outage in winter. The temperatures can vary, animals can get to it and other unsanitary conditions could contaminate it. Instead, fill buckets and empty containers with water and leave them outside to freeze. You can then use them to cool coolers, refrigerator and freezer.
  • Before consuming any food that may be questionable you should check it with a thermometer to determine if it is under 40 °F.
  • Bunch food together, it will help it stay cold longer. The less area you need to cool the better, use a cooler when necessary.
  • Sometimes you only need to buy a little time before the power comes back on but unfortunately we never know exactly when that will happen. These tips can help keep your food safe longer. Remember, never taste food to determine if it is safe to eat AND if in doubt, throw it out.

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    Grilling Safety 101

    There are few things that are more pleasing than the smell of food grilling on the barbeque. Grilling often includes family, friends and neighbors and provides an opportunity to have a great time while enjoying the outdoors.

    Grilling and meat safety begins at the store. It is important to choose packages that feel cold to the touch and aren’t torn when deciding which cut of beef or package of chicken to purchase. Place the meat in plastic bags, such as those found in the produce area, to keep the juices from dripping on other food products.

    Unfortunately, many stores place meat sections at the back of the store to get people further in to purchase other products. If possible, make fresh meats the last items to go into your cart and keep them separate from other ready-cooked items.

    At the check stand, have the cashier bag the raw meats separately from other items and go directly home. Remember that the hotter it is outside, the less time you have to get your food home safely. In some instances you may want to pack a cooler with ice for these items.

    Once you get home you should put your meat directly into the refrigerator or freezer unless you plan on grilling it in the next 24 to 48 hours. In this case, the refrigerator should be sufficient. Never leave raw meat, poultry or any other perishable food out at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour at 90°F and above).

    But wait, aren’t we supposed to be talking about grilling safety? Grilling safely is simple; the most critical steps are to keep your raw meat cold, your cooked meat hot and protect your other food or eating utensils from touching the raw meat or juices. Firing up the grill, cleaning it and getting the right temperature is key to any grilling experience but one thing many people miss is how they get their meat to and from the grill. To prevent food borne illness you should never use the same plate or utensils for raw and cooked meat. Either clean the plate before putting the cooked meat back on it or get a different plate altogether.

    Meat and poultry should be cooked to a safe temperature in order to remove any harmful bacteria that may be lurking. Never partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later! If you are grilling a steak you should shoot for a minimum cooking temperature of 145 °F, hamburgers 160 °F or 165 °F for poultry.

    After cooking your meat on the grill you are going to want to eat it when it is hot. If you aren’t going to be able to eat the meat right away, keep it warm by taking it off the direct heat but keeping it on the grill or place it in an oven set at 200 °F.

    And there you have it-grilling safety 101! Grill safely, protect your food and enjoy those tasty treats.

    Facts on Sugar

    60 Minutes Segment: Is Sugar Toxic?

    Sugar Association Response to Inaccurate and Misleading Assertions

    What is sugar?

    Sugar/sucrose occurs naturally in almost every fruit and vegetable and most abundantly in sugar cane and sugar beets from which it is extracted. The sugar/sucrose in a peach or watermelon is exactly the same as the sugar in your sugar bowl. Sugar is all natural, only 15 calories per teaspoon and is an important ingredient that has been safely used for over 2000 years.

    The media should use caution when reporting on preliminary science, hypothesis and opinion. It seems like every week a new study grabs the headlines. Many of these studies are preliminary studies and are by definition, just that: preliminary hypotheses, not conclusions, and need further investigation. The methodology used in many studies leaves room for interpretation by the scientist conducting the study and therefore room for personal bias that is less likely to withstand scrutiny when compared with the body of science on the same subject. The media should use caution when reporting on preliminary studies and hypothesis because the average person does not know how to assess the information in the larger context of the totality of scientific evidence.

    What does the science say about sugar?

    The most reliable scientific conclusions are those that result from major scientific reviews of the full body of scientific literature by panels of qualified experts. When the full body of science is evaluated during a major review of the scientific literature, experts continue to conclude sugars intake is not a causative factor in any disease, including obesity and diabetes.

    Conclusion of two recent major reviews on sugar Following its extensive review of the scientific literature, the U.S. Institute of Medicine “Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids” (IOM report) panel concluded in 2002:

    Based on the data available on dental caries, behavior, cancer, risk of obesity, and risk of hyperlipidemia, there is insufficient evidence to set a UL (upper level) for total or added sugars.

    The NAS report also stated unequivocally: “There is no clear and consistent association between increased intakes of added sugars and BMI.”

    A conclusion consistent with the 2002 IOM report was reaffirmed in 2011 by the European Food Safety Authority after review of the scientific literature by its expert panel:
    “Available data do not allow the setting of an UL (upper level) for total or added sugars, neither an AI (Adequate Intake) nor a recommended intake range.”

    Is sugar addictive?

    Addiction is compulsive behavior with medically identifiable physiological symptoms. Eating sugar or any other carbohydrate (or protein or fats) does not generate withdrawal, the medically distinct symptom characteristic of authentic addiction. The premise that sugar uniquely causes changes in brain chemistry is not the consensus of the scientific community. It is well known that other pleasurable experiences (one good example is exercise) generate comparable chemical responses in brain dopamine. Thus, all changes in neurochemistry do not equate to addiction.

    Sugar’s impact on cells or cellular growth (cancer)

    Sugar is 100 percent pure carbohydrate. The body converts all digestible carbohydrates into glucose. There is nothing unique about the glucose generated from sugar than the glucose resulting from any other carbohydrates that would impact the cells or cellular growth.

    According to the Mayo Clinic’s Cancer causes: Popular myths about the causes of cancer.

    “Myth: People with cancer shouldn’t eat sugar, since it can cause cancer to grow faster.

    Fact: Sugar doesn’t make cancer grow faster. All cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But giving more sugar to cancer cells doesn’t speed their growth. Likewise, depriving cancer cells of sugar doesn’t slow their growth.

    This misconception may be based in part on a misunderstanding of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which use a small amount of radioactive tracer — typically a form of glucose. All tissues in your body absorb some of this tracer, but tissues that are using more energy — including cancer cells — absorb greater amounts. For this reason, some people have concluded that cancer cells grow faster on sugar. But this isn’t true.”

    Sugar: diabetes and insulin response

    Sugar does not uniquely raise blood glucose levels and create an unusual insulin response. The premise that sugar causes a rapid rise in blood glucose or glycemic response which then triggers an abnormal production of insulin is not a physiological or scientific reality. In a scale of 0 to 100, sugar has a moderate glycemic index (GI 58), similar to that of wheat bread (GI 53).

    The 2007 American Diabetes Position Statement:

    “Substantial evidence from clinical studies demonstrates that dietary sucrose does not increase glycemia more than isocaloric amounts of starch. Thus, intake of sucrose and sucrose containing foods by people with diabetes does not need to be restricted because of concern about aggravating hyperglycemia (increased blood glucose response).”

    Sugar: heart disease – There is a lack of rigorous science to support a link between sugars intake and heart disease

    This line of investigation is preliminary and far from conclusive. In fact, an October 28, 2009 Journal of American Medical Association “Medical News & Perspectives” critique of the American Heart Association statement referenced in the 60 Minute segment states, “…some researchers emphasize the lack of scientific rigor behind the claims that sugar causes obesity and it associated adverse outcomes. The American Heart Association statement provided no new scientific evidence that linked sugars to heart disease. Further, the lead author went on to admit that its scientific evidence linking sugars intake to obesity was observational, which is the lowest level of scientific evidence. “We felt that the strongest evidence was in the area of obesity and added sugar… granted, it is observational, but we have an obesity epidemic…”

    60 Minutes Segment: Is Sugar Toxic?

    When 60 Minutes broadcasted a piece relating to sugar the industry thought they were going to represent multiple sides of the issue. Instead they took a journalistic approach that was one-sided and blamed sugar for many of American’s health problems when there are many facts that suggest otherwise. You can’t blame one thing for everyone’s health issues. People need to be educated about balanced diets and healthy lifestyles. All natural sugar is part of our daily diets and is found in many of the foods we eat, either naturally or added. If the producers of 60 Minutes are suggesting that people switch from all natural sugar to man-made sweeteners then they haven’t done their homework on that issue either.

    Finally, after spending the entire segment misleading consumers, 60 Minutes failed to provide a single action step that consumers could take to moderate consumption of all foods to reduce their total caloric intake-something that the Sugar Association has been urging for years.

    What 60 Minutes achieved, instead, was scaring the public with the use of words like heart disease, toxic and addictive while broadening the chilling effect on any other member of the food industry’s willingness to participate in further episodes.” – Andrew Briscoe III

    We all have health concerns for ourselves, family and children. It is important to educate yourself and not take what you hear and see on the news blindly. We all know that the media is misleading (a lot of the time) and serve their own agenda or someone else’s.

    The key with living a healthy life and raising healthy children is maintaining a well-rounded diet, getting physically active and providing a loving environment.

    Read the Sugar Association’s Response and get the Facts on Sugar.

    Vitamin B12

    What is Vitamin B12?

    Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is available as a dietary supplement, naturally present in some foods, added to others and as a prescription medication.

    What Does Vitamin B12 Do?

    In the simplest terms vitamin B12 is required for good red blood cell development, neurological function and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is bound to certain proteins in food and is broken down in the stomach into a “free” form that is absorbed into the body.

    What is the Recommended Dietary Allowances for Vitamin B12?

    According to the Institute of Medicine the recommended daily allowance (RDA) varies by age and gender. The table below lists the current (as of 2012) RDAs for vitamin B12 in micrograms (mcg).

    Recommended Dietary Allowances for Vitamin B12

    Age Male/Female
    0-6 Months 0.4 mcg
    7-12 Months 0.5 mcg
    1-3 Years 0.9 mcg
    4-8 Years 1.2 mcg
    9-13 Years 1.8 mcg
    14+ Years 2.4 mcg

    Common Food Sources of Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat poultry, eggs, milk and milk products. Many breakfast cereals and other foods are fortified with B12.

    • Clams
    • Liver
    • Beef
    • Breakfast Cereals
    • Trout
    • Sockeye Salmon
    • Tuna Fish
    • Milk
    • Yogurt
    • Swiss Cheese
    • Ham
    • Eggs
    B12 Patch

    What Are Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

    Vitamin B12 deficiency is characterized by megaloblastic anemia, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue and weakness. Neurological changes, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can occur. Additional symptoms include dementia, depression, confusion, difficulty maintaining balance, poor memory, confusion and soreness of the mouth or tongue.

    Who’s at Risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

    • Pregnant and lactating women who follow strict vegetarian diets and their infants
    • Vegetarians
    • Older adults
    • People with pernicious anemia
    • People with gastrointestinal disorders
    • Individuals who have had gastrointestinal surgery

    Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient for healthy Americans as is maintaining a healthy diet. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat milk (milk products). Include lean meats such as chicken, fish and certain cuts of red beef. Fish and red meat are a great source of vitamin B12

    The Vitamin B12 Patch is a revolutionary product developed to supply the body with vitamin B12

    For additional information visit http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb12

    Disclaimer:
    This information should not replace medical advice and for informational purposes only. You should talk to your health care if you have concerns or questions about your health.

    Dr Oz – Chia Seeds

    Dr. Oz Recommends Chia Seeds

    Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala.

    Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, since the seeds yield 25-30% extractable oil, including α-linolenic acid (ALA). Chia seeds are typically small ovals with a diameter of about 1 mm (0.039 in). They are mottle-colored with brown, gray, black and white.

    How to Prepare chia Seeds

    Chia seed may be eaten raw as a whole seed, providing protein, fats and fiber. Ground chia seed is sometimes added to pinole, a coarse flour made from toasted maize kernels. Chia seeds placed in water or fruit juice are consumed in Mexico and known as chia fresca. The soaked seeds are gelatinous in texture and are used in gruels, porridges and puddings. Ground chia seed is used in baked goods including breads, cakes and biscuits.

    Chia sprouts are used in a similar manner as alfalfa sprouts in salads, sandwiches and other dishes.

    Chia Seeds Health Benefits

    In a one ounce (28 g) sample, dried chia seeds contain 9% of the Daily Value for protein (4g), 13% fat (9g) (57% of which is ALA) and 42% dietary fiber (11g), based on a daily intake of 2000 calories. The seeds also contain the essential minerals phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium and sodium in amounts comparable to other edible seeds, such as flax or sesame.

    Where to Buy Chia Seeds

    You can find a large selection of Chia Seeds at Amazon.com.

    Dr Oz Says

    Chia Pets may have no apparent purpose, but chia seed? Now, that’s something to get excited about. Chia—a harvested, unprocessed, nutty-tasting, nutrient-dense whole grain with omega-3 fatty acids—has among the highest antioxidant activity of any whole food, outdistancing even fresh blueberries. One study showed that 30 grams of chia seed taken with bread decreased the sharp blood sugar spike seen an hour after eating. Another study showed that chia lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart problems. My recommendation: two daily doses of about 20 grams of seeds each.

    Source: http://www.sharecare.com/question/chia-seed-health-benefits

    Kids Can Cook

    Often times, as parents we get home and just want to get dinner on the table so we can relax or move on to the next thing on our list to get done. But did you know that kids enjoy cooking with their parents? In fact, when they help make the evening meal they will be more inclined to eat what’s set before them.

    Cooking as a family is also a great way to spend quality time together. No matter how old a person is we all like to spend quality time with someone and that goes for our kids too.

    Cooking involves talking, reading and following directions. It is a great opportunity to teach simple skills such as reading a recipe and math skills by counting and measuring. Following step-by-step instructions help your children understand the process especially when they witness the results firsthand.

    Older children will be able to learn about other cultures when cooking. They will understand relationships in food preparation; for example if you use too much flour in your cookie recipe they may come out dry and hard.

    You will be amazed at how fast your children learn new things when cooking in the kitchen. They are more than happy to get their hands dirty and help out but remember they can be a bit messy so be prepared for some extra cleanup.

    Cooking with your kids will give them a sense of pride and it shows them we need their help and they are big enough to provide help. Our children are the most important things to us, so let’s let them feel important too.

    Most Common Illnesses in Children

    Children aren’t the cleanest of people and are still learning the basics. At school there are hundreds of kids running around, getting into stuff and it becomes breeding grounds for organisms that cause illnesses. Luckily with time, school-age children gradually become less prone to the most common illnesses and recover more quickly from the diseases they catch.

    Top 5 Illnesses Why Children Miss School

    • The common cold – There are times you think that your children are always sick or that they seem to be getting sick more than normal but that doesn’t mean things aren’t as they should be. Children typically have anywhere from six to ten colds each year with more severe and long lasting symptoms than adults. Symptoms typically improve for your child within a week.
    • Ear infection – An inner ear infection is most common for children between the ages of 4 months and 5 years old. An ear infection is caused by bacteria or viruses. When these germs make their way to the inner ear it fills with fluid causing pressure which can hurt. They often clear up without antibiotics but it is still a good idea to check with your doctor, especially if they keep coming back.
    • Stomach flu – None of us like to get the stomach flu and it is the second most common childhood illness. It is always important to watch your children when they have the stomach flu for signs of dehydration.
    • Sore throat – Sore throats are often a sign of another illness and they usually go a way on their own. Some sore throats are a sign of strep throat, which are common in children between the ages of 5 and 15.
    • Pink eye – Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis and is caused by viruses and bacteria. It is an inflammation of the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelids; it is considered highly contagious. Applying warm or cool compresses to they eyes may alleviate the symptoms such as itchiness.

    Help Prevent Common Childhood Illness

    When it comes to preventing the most common illnesses in children one of the best things they can do is to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently. Imagine how much they use their little hands and the things they touch; sometimes they just don’t know better. Preventing your children from getting sick completely most likely won’t happen but there are some common sense things you can teach them to lower their risk.

    Healthy Sleep for Children

    Children’s health is affected by the amount and quality of sleep they get each night. Not only does getting enough sleep help their immune system it also helps them learn and reduce behavioral problems.

    Help your children get a good night sleep by setting a regular bed time and sticking to it. Don’t feed your children big meals before bedtime and of course avoid giving them caffeine. Each child is different when it comes to approaching sleep but all benefit from a calming bedtime routine; ie. bath and story time. You know your child’s habits best so with a little trial and error, you should succeed in finding a routine that suits them and the family best.

    Jump Start Your Family on a Healthy Lifestyle

    Maybe you have been considering making a lifestyle change for you and your family. You have realized that you don’t look and feel as good as you used too or your children seem to have turned into junk food junkies. As parents you can take action but you need to do it as a family and you must be a positive role model for your children.

    For some families getting healthy is a major lifestyle change. But that should not deter you from proceeding. You have much more control than you may think but it will take some discipline. You can turn off the TV and take the kids to the park or go for a walk. Limit the amount of video games your children play and encourage them to go out and kick the ball around.

    When it comes to cooking serve more vegetables and get back to the basics. Eat foods in the right proportions and don’t over do it.

    When you and your family start eating healthier and getting physically active, think about the benefits such as; when you go hiking with your teenager it might lead to a wonderful talk about life that was unexpected. So many things can happen when you start to pull away from the daily grind of life and enjoy it more. You connect with the people you love and give and receive attention. There are many positive things that can happen when you and your family make a major lifestyle change such as this one.

    All this may sound pretty good but it may take a little convincing with the other family members. Suggesting that everyone take a run everyday may get you booted out of the family. Unless everyone is on board with the idea you should make small, easy changes over time. Take a walk after dinner a couple nights a week instead of turning on the TV. Eat strawberries over angel food cake instead of cake and ice cream for dessert.

    You can even make changes without your family knowing that will benefit their health. For example you could use low fat milk in recipes instead of whole milk… Eating healthy meals doesn’t mean that things won’t be good, in fact they will be. Tie that into an active lifestyle and you will greatly increase the overall health of your family.

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    Take Action for a Healthy Weight

    It is easy to get caught up in the seemingly endless things that need to be done. To save time we start cutting corners; eating fast food and pre-packaged foods that tend to be high in additives, sodium, and calories. The majority of Americans have no idea of how many calories they are consuming each day let alone their families.

    Obesity is a national epidemic and needs to be addressed. As a parent you can take action for you and your children. Obtaining a healthy weight and maintaining it require two things: smart food choices and being physically active.

    Parenting by Example is something we all have told ourselves we were going to do as parents. Many have found that sometimes this can be quite challenging but it isn’t too late to make changes. You make a huge difference in what your children do and think – You are their role models. Would it be safe to say that if you were to take the first step to eating right and getting physically active then they would follow? Odds are on your side that they will follow suit and the sooner you get started the better; for everyone.

    When families come together on a decision they are more likely to be successful; doing it on your own can come with challenges so it is important to get everyone involved. Creating healthy family habits that revolve around eating right and getting active can make is easier for everyone to maintain a healthy weight.

    Do You Care About Your Weight

    Over the years, talk about weight and obesity in this country has become a popular topic. There are countless fad diet programs coming and going yet they don’t seem to be helping matters much. It is estimated that over 65 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese and more than 61 million obese adults.

    However, adults aren’t the only ones affected. Children have been getting heavier too. Since the 1970’s the number of overweight children and teens has doubled. About 16 percent of children and teens are overweight (according to the US Department of Health and Human Services).

    Being overweight has long-term consequences for both children and adults. It is linked to type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other conditions. Type 2 diabetes used to be rare in children yet now it is responsible for up to 45 percent of newly diagnosed cases. Children that are overweight then they are in danger of being overweight or obese as adults.

    This is a growing concern among health professionals and Americans in the United States and measures need to be taken. Steps are already being made with new government initiatives such as, “We Can!” Hopefully the more people know the better decisions they will make. As a society we need to slow down, stop cutting the basics out, and learn to enjoy life by being healthy.

    Reading food labels, eating the right amount and kinds of food, and getting physically active are key in obtaining a healthy weight and maintaining it.