Blog post written by Elizabeth Kuras, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
Warm weather offers the perfect setting for a get-together with friends and family. While enjoying the fresh air and tasty summer cuisine, it is important to keep basic food safety in mind. Every year, health officials see a summer spike in foodborne illnesses, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Foodborne illnesses are caused by eating spoiled foods or beverages. Many different disease-causing bacteria can infect foods, so there are many different types of foodborne illnesses that cause symptoms similar to the stomach flu. By following these five food safety tips, we can enjoy outdoor picnics and barbecues with our loved ones while keeping everyone safe.
Image from www.ecowatch.com/healthy-summer-cookout-2587570276.html
1. Proper Handwashing
Handwashing should always be the first step in cooking food, and should be done often, especially after coming in contact with raw meat, fish, or eggs. Simply wiping your hands on a towel isn’t enough. To kill harmful germs, you must wash your hands with warm, soapy water, rub for at least 20 seconds, then dry your hands with a single-use paper towel.
2. Be Cautious of Cross-Contamination
Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods. For example, do not slice your watermelon on the same cutting board that just held raw hamburger patties. It is a good idea to use color-coded cutting boards to prevent this – use a red cutting board for raw meat, and a green one for fresh fruits and vegetables that are ready-to-eat. Wash the cutting boards in hot, soapy water after use.
Also, make sure you are not cross-contaminating food with your utensils or plates. As soon as you put raw items on the grill, get a clean plate or serving dish ready for when the items are done. You should also pay attention to the utensils used while grilling – those tongs you used to place the raw burgers on the grill could contain harmful germs, which could spread to the fully cooked burgers being pulled off the grill. It is not safe to use the same plate or utensils you originally used to place raw items on the grill, unless they have been fully washed and sanitized.
Image from www.insider.com./best-way-to-grill-mistakes-2018-6
3. Cook Food to the Proper Temperature
When grilling meat, you can’t tell if it’s done by simply looking at color and texture alone. Cooking food safely requires it to reach a safe internal temperature, which is the temperature hot enough to kill harmful germs that can cause foodborne illness. Food thermometers are fairly cheap and are useful if you plan on throwing an outdoor party or two this summer!
The target temperatures to remember are 165 °F for poultry, casseroles and leftovers. Ground meats and egg dishes need to be cooked to at least 160 °F. Fresh beef, pork, veal, lamb and ham should reach 145 °F and then rest for at least three minutes. Fish and seafood (all types) should be cooked to 145°F. Hot foods should be held at or above 145°F.
Image from www.southernliving.com/kitchen-assistant/best-grill-thermometers
4. Keep Cold Foods Cold, and Hot Foods Hot
When cold/hot food is left out at room temperature, the general rule is place it into the fridge within 2-4 hours. In the hot summer months when the temperature outside is over 90°F, food should only be left out for 1 hour or less. This prevents the temperature of the food reaching the “danger zone,” which ranges from 40°F to 140°F. When food is in this temperature range, it causes germs to grow at a fast pace, which may cause foodborne illness. During cookouts or other outdoor events, it is common practice to place food on a table and have guests graze the food when they want. However, this can put people at risk for eating unsafe foods.
To avoid this, keep cold food in the refrigerator and place it on the table (in the shade) right before the meal begins. You can also serve cold foods inside to keep them out of the summer heat. Another great idea is to use a cooler or shallow pan filled with ice to keep your cold food less than 40°F. For hot foods, keep your grilled items on the grill (away from direct heat) to keep them warm or store them in an container.
5. Consume Leftovers in 3-4 Days
At the end of your party, chances are you’ll have some leftover food. Place it in the refrigerator ASAP in a sealed container. Consume all leftovers in 3-4 days tops, and remember to cook leftovers to 165°F, or until steaming hot.
Image from canva.com
Grilling out with loved ones is a classic summer activity enjoyed by many. Use these five tips, and you’ll have delicious and safely prepared food all season long, with peace of mind knowing your friends and family will be protected from foodborne illness. For additional information, visit FoodSafety.gov or download our "4 Bases of Food Safety" Handout.
Blog post written by Kelsey Black, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
March is National Nutrition Month®!
To celebrate this time of focusing on good nutrition, let’s take a closer look at the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines provide advice on what to eat and drink to meet nutrient needs, promote health, and help prevent chronic disease. The newest addition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (released in 2020) is the first to provide information on healthy dietary patterns by life stage. This includes birth through older adulthood, as well as women who are pregnant or lactating. If you would like more information, visit DietaryGuidelines.gov or MyPlate.gov.
Making Every Bite Count
Adults who regularly exercise and eat a balanced diet tend to feel better, have better bone health, and reduce their risk of many diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, dementia, and certain types of cancer).
So, what does a balanced plate look like? Use MyPlate as a guide! This tool can help you "make every bite count" by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy or soy alternatives at each meal. Eating a well-rounded mix of foods from each food group is important for promoting health at each life stage.
Key Messages for Every Life Stage
Mental health has been a growing topic of discussion in recent years. New research is revealing more about the factors that affect psychological and emotional health. We are also learning more about the important role that mental well-being plays in many different factors of our society: academic achievement, economic success, family stability, medication management, and much more.
What does this have to do with nutrition? Recent research has shown a connection between a healthy, balanced diet and improved mental health.
Photo from nutrition.org
There are many possible reasons for this connection:
1. Nutritious foods - such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins - are full of nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy. This includes supporting proper brain growth and development in kids, reducing inflammation, regulating mood, boosting energy levels, and fighting off disease.
2. Eating a balanced diet can support healthy weight management. Being at a weight that is healthy for YOU (this is different for each individual and each stage of life) can keep your body feeling its best and promote a positive body image.
3. When you feel better, you tend to eat better...and when you eat better, you tend to feel better! Mental health problems, such as depression, can sometimes lead to poor nutrition choices as a coping mechanism. On the other hand, good mental health can empower individuals to make nutritious choices throughout their day.
4. Food affects the chemicals in your brain. In fact, healthy foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can boost levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, and higher levels of this chemical in your brain make you feel happy and energized. Empty calorie foods, like sweets or fried foods, can make you feel slow or sleepy.
Photo from www.premierintegrativehealthkc.com
Note: Food alone is not meant to be a treatment for mental illness. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about what is best for managing your personal health!
Interested in learning more? Visit these great resources, which were used to develop the content of this blog:
Food pantries serve populations with high rates of chronic disease. Providing and promoting a variety of healthy foods to clients can help prevent and manage chronic diseases to reduce this added burden on our communities.
Image from https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/
What are nutrition nudges?
Nutrition nudges are subtle environmental cues that change consumer behaviors. The purpose of nudges is to encourage consumers to choose healthy, nutritious items by making the healthy choice the easiest choice. They are effective, low-cost ways to promote nutrition in pantries by providing nutrition education and increasing the distribution of healthy foods.
Key nudge strategies include:
For example, highlighting “Heart Healthy” and “Diabetes Friendly” foods with shelf tags, adding color to walls and shelves, and providing recipe cards and educational handouts are all great ways to nudge clients.
2019 IUPUI Dietetic Intern Angel Gomez stands near a display of bags of dried lentils. The shelf tag above the product reads:
"Lentils are a delicious way to boost protein and fiber in your meals."
Which foods should be nudged in pantries?
Foods low in added sugar, sodium, and saturated fat should be encouraged for optimal health. These include:
Eating a variety of foods from all the food groups of MyPlate supports a healthy, well-balanced diet and can decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases.
How do I get started with nudges?
Consider starting with a simple change to the layout of your pantry. Place healthy foods first in the shopping line or in easy-to-access areas at eye level. Place foods to limit at the end of the shopping line or in harder-to-reach places on shelves.
Interested in learning more?
Click here for recipes, nutrition education handouts and more.
Click here for more information on nudges, training resources, and sample nudge materials.
This blog post was written by Morgan Belt, IUPUI Dietetic Intern, as part of her internship capstone project. Other activities that Morgan assisted with during her month-long capstone project included:
We are so grateful for all of Morgan’s hard work and contributions, and we wish her the very best in her future as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)!
IUPUI Dietetic Interns Taylor Wilson (left) and Morgan Belt (right) presented a recipe demo for
chickpea tacos at the Gleaners Community Cupboard food pantry in January 2020
In the midst of this COVID-19 outbreak, everyone is doing their best to stay safe and healthy. It is important to follow CDC guidance to wash your hands often, reduce contact with anyone who is sick, and stay home if you don’t feel well. It is just as important to build healthy habits into your daily routine:
Image from rawpixel.com
There are no specific foods that will keep you from getting sick. However, there are groups of foods that can help your immune system (and body overall) stay healthy.
These food groups include:
Image from www.medicalnewstoday.com
Gleaners is committed to providing good nutrition to our neighbors during these uncertain times. Many of the foods listed above are being given to families through our drive-thru pantry, our mobile pantries, and other community food distributions.
March is National Nutrition Month®, a designated time to focus on building healthy habits “Bite by Bite” for improved nutrition and wellness. One simple way to start eating healthier at home is to make a weekly meal plan. This does not have to be complicated or expensive – a simple list of dinner ideas for most nights of the week is a great starting point!
Last week, Cooking Matters participants at Gleaners learned about tips for meal planning and shopping on a budget. The Cooking Matters program is offered quarterly at Gleaners’ on-site food pantry in partnership with Indy Hunger Network.
Cooking Matters participants proudly hold up their graduation gifts for completing the free 6-week course.
This particular lesson was taught by a Registered Dietitian and IUPUI dietetic intern. Here are some of the points they covered with the group:
Gleaners strives to promote the health of those we serve by providing a variety of nutritious, meal-making foods, offering healthy recipe ideas and nutrition education opportunities, and partnering with community organizations that offer other services our clients may need.
Sarah Wilson, RDN, Nutrition Manager at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, along with guest blog posts by dietetic interns