Sunday, September 29, 2013

Some Healthy Kitchen Habits

Nonporous surfaces like plastic or glass are easier to clean than wood and thus better in terms of food safety. Wood is naturally porous, and those tiny fissures and grooves in wooden cutting boards can harbor bacteria which is why cutting boards made of wood aren't allowed in commercial kitchens.
Bottom line: Use plastic or acrylic cutting boards, not wood or glass.

Consider using separate cutting boards for fresh produce and bread, raw meats, poultry and seafoods, dairy products, and cooked foods. This will prevent bacteria on a cutting board that is used for raw meat from contaminating a food that requires no further cooking. You can even purchase color-coded cutting boards help you keep them separate (At our house we don’t eat beef or pork and I have a special red cutting board I ONLY use for poultry).

Cutting boards should be washed with hot, soapy water after each use, rinsed with clear water and air dried. You can also pat them dry with clean paper towels — but don't dry with a dishtowel. Why? Dishtowels hang around the kitchen and get wiped on everything, making them the ideal vehicle for spreading bacteria from one kitchen tool or surface (or even your hands) to another.

Acrylic or plastic boards should be run through a dishwasher, which is a great way to clean and sanitize them. It's another reason they're superior to wooden boards, because wooden boards may warp, crack or split if washed in the dishwasher.

Don't have a dishwasher? You can sanitize plastic cutting boards in a chlorine solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. (Use unscented bleach only — don't use bleach that has lemon or pine scent added!)

Ideally you'd fill a sink with this solution and then soak the cutting boards in it for half an hour or so, then rinse them with clear water and air dry. If your sink isn't big enough, you can fill a spray bottle with the sanitizing bleach solution and spritz the surface of the boards generously and let them stand for a few minutes, then rinse and dry as described.

Cutting boards wear out over time: they may develop hard-to-clean grooves from your knife, or they may just get dinged up from heavy use. Cutting boards are nothing to get sentimental over. When they wear out, toss them out and replace them.

Kitchen sponges are the No. 1 source of germs in the whole house. Why? The moist, micro-crevices that make a sponge such an effective cleaning device also make it a cozy home for germs and more difficult to disinfect. Wiping your counters or dishes with a dirty sponge will only transfer the bacteria from one item to another. "Wet your sponge and then pop it in the microwave for two minutes to eliminate the germs that lurk inside the crevices," says Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai in New York City, and the author of The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu.

Practice good dishrag etiquette. 
Your dish rags are really no better than your sponges. And like sponges, using a dirty dish rag to clean a kitchen countertop will only spread germs. Your best bet is to replace rags daily. "Allow them to dry out between uses because most bacteria thrive only in moistness," Schachter says. In fact, they can only survive a few hours on dry surfaces. "Rags should be washed in the washing machine and then dried on high heat," he says.

1. Inspect and if needed replace your cutting boards.
2. Sanitize your cutting boards and begin a daily habit of cleaning them properly between uses 
3. Begin to use good kitchen habits replacing your sponge or rag each morning and zapping it in the microwave or laying it out to dry between uses.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Our Next Challenge- Movie Night!

There is something wonderful about being inspired! It's so great when we find something that fills us with enthusiasm and excitement about working toward our goals and accomplishing great things.

We can find inspiration in many areas including the actions and example of others; blog posts, e-mails, magazine articles etc; and inspiring books and films.

I apologize in advance that this challenge will take you about an hour and a half to complete. The challenge is this TO EARN YOUR 35 CHALLENGE POINTS FOR THE WEEK YOU NEED TO WATCH ONE FILM ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING. 

While some of these films tout fairly extreme measures (30 day juice fast, a vegetarian no-meat diet etc.)   that you may not choose to follow I believe you will still be inspired by them. And you may decide to make some lesser but permanent changes that will affect your life long healthy in big ways. Let me know what you think and if you feel inspired to do anything after watching one of these films.

I realize you probably do not all have Netflix but many of these films are available as i-tune rentals, for free on you-tube or hulu, or on their own website. Choose the one you want to view and google to find out where it is available. You can watch any healthy living documentary but here are a few I recommend. (Note if you have already seen all of these feel free to find and pick another. Or you can re-watch one of these and still earn the points)
Super Size me Starring Morgan Spurlock is my all time favorite. Spurlock filmed his experience of eating nothing but McDonald's three times a day for an entire month. As you can probably predict, the results weren't great. He tracks his mood swing and physical health, and checks in with other Americans who subsist largely on soda and burgers. 

Food, Inc. is a 2008 American documentary film that examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, in a way that is environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees. The film is narrated by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser (Note: Michael Pollan is one of my favorite food writers)

Forks Over Knives is a 2011 American documentary film that advocates a low-fat whole-foodplant-based diet as a means of combating a number of diseases. 


Food Matters is a 2008 documentary film about nutrition, exploring malnutrition and cancer causes.[1] The film is presented in the style of a documentary, containing interviews, animations, and footage of various therapies and practices. The film presents the thesis that a selective diet can play a key role in treating a range of health conditions such as diabetescancerheart disease and depression,[2] often without the need of medical treatment. Furthermore, it tends to label the medical industry as a "sickness industry", which profits more from treating the symptoms of illness than curing the illness.


Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead follows the 60-day journey of Australian Joe Cross across the United States as he follows a juice fast to regain his health. Following his fast and the adoption of a plant-based diet, Cross lost 100 pounds, cured himself of an auto-immune disease and was able to discontinu all medications.
During his road-trip Cross meets Phil Staples, a morbidly obese truck driver from Sheldon, Iowa, in a truck stop in Arizona and inspires him to try juice fasting.[

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fresh, local, and delicious!

This summer I went out to California to help my daughter-in-law with my grandchildren after minor surgery. While I was visiting, one of her friends stopped by with a basket of fresh vegetables straight from her garden. She brought tomatoes, zucchini, basil, onions, lettuce, carrots, green beans and potatoes. What a kind gift and a blessing for healing. My grand daughter and I made a pretty salad and some yummy vegetable soup (She announced ahead of time that she was going to pick out and not eat the onions but she forgot and gobbled up all of her soup).

When we are able to eat produce that is either home grown or local and fresh we gift our bodies with the most nutrients possible. Do a google search for farmer's markets or You-Pick farms in your area. Watch the back roads for local produce stands. 

I can remember some time ago meeting a lady who owned a family run apple orchard. She was appalled that anyone would even eat an apple that had been picked many, many months before. And she was right! Not only do fruits and vegetables lose their flavor and texture but in many cases some of their nutrients as well, if they have undergone long storage or long distance shipping.

By now you are wondering what our challenge is for this week and it is to partake of some of the bounty of Fall. You earn your 5 daily challenge points if you:
1. If at all possible go to a local farmer’s market or neighborhood produce market that features some locally grown produce. Spend some time and make a purchase. It would be wonderful if you bought something you don’t normally eat! Give something new a try! I understand if work or family responsibilities make this impossible but if it is at all possible GO!
2. Each day partake of at least one fruit or vegetable that is in season in late Summer or fall. Here is a list to choose from. There may be additional fresh local produce available where you live.

Apples are one of those fruits people have forgotten have a season. But they do, and in the Northern Hemisphere they're harvested late summer through fall.
Artichokes produce a second, smaller crop in the fall (the first go-around is in the spring) that tends to produce small to medium artichokes.
Arugula is a cool weather peppery green harvested at different times in different places (winter in warm climates, summer in cool ones) but
Broccoli can be grown year-round in temperate climates so we've forgotten it even has a season. It is more sweet, less bitter and sharp when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.
Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk, and if you see them for sale that way snap them up - they'll last quite a bit longer than once they're cut.
Carrots are harvested year-round in temperate areas. Unusual varieties are harvested during the carrot's natural season, which is late summer and fall. Locally grown carrots are often available from storage through early winter even in colder climates.
Celery is at its best in the fall, with its harvest continuing through winter in warm and temperate climates.
Chard like all cooking greens, chard turns bitter when it gets too hot. Chard grows year-round in temperate areas, is best harvested in late summer or early fall in colder areas, and fall through spring in warmer regions.
Chiles are best at the end of summer and into fall. Dried chiles are, of course, available year-round.
Cranberries, native to North America, and are harvested in New England and the Upper Midwest in the fall.
Edamame are fresh soy beans - look for them in late summer and fall.
Eggplant (early fall) comes into season towards the end of summer, but bright shiny heavy-feeling specimens stay in season well into fall.
Figs have a short second season in late fall (the first harvest comes in summer) just in time for Thanksgiving.
Garlic is another produce item that we forget has a season; fresh garlic is at its plump, sweetest best in late summer and fall.
Grapes (early fall) ripen towards the end of summer where they grow best; the harvest continues into fall.
Green beans tend to be sweetest and most tender during their natural season, from mid-summer into fall in most regions.
Herbs of hearty sorts are available fresh in fall - look for bundles of rosemary, parsley, thyme, and sage.
Kale is like all hearty cooking greens - cooler weather keeps it sweet.
Kohlrabi (late fall) comes into season by the end of fall, but stays at
Lettuce (in warmer climates), like other greens bolt and turn bitter when the weather gets too warm, making it in-season somewhere in the U.S. year-round. It can also be grown in low-energy greenhouses in colder climates through the winter.
Limes are harvested in semi-tropical and tropical areas in summer and fall.
Mushrooms (wild) have different seasons throughout the U.S. Most wild mushrooms other than morels are in-season in summer through fall.
Okra (early fall) needs heat to grow, so a nice long, hot summer in warmer climates brings out its best. Look for firm, plump pods in late summer and early fall.
Onions come from storage all year round but most onions are harvested in late summer through the fall.
Parsnips look like white carrots and have a great nutty flavor. Look for thinner parsnips, since fatter ones tend to have a thick, woody core you need to cut out.
Pears have a season that runs from mid-summer well into winter, depending on the variety and region.
Peppers (early fall) - both sweet and spicy- are harvested in late summer and early fall.
Persimmons are available for a short window in the fall and early winter - look for bright, heavy-feeling fruits.
Pomegranates only ripen in warmer climates. They are in season starting in October and are usually available fresh through December.
Potatoes are excellent storage vegetables, but most varieties are harvested in the fall.
Pumpkins are the most common winter squash and come into season in September in most areas.
Quinces -are most under-appreciated fruit. Bright and tart, quince jellies and desserts are a fall and early winter favorite.
Radishes (all types) are so fast-growing that they can be sown several times during the growing season in most climates. Fall marks the end of the season for small red radishes and the beginning of the season for larger daikon-type radishes.
Shallots are harvested in late summer and into fall, and are at their sweetest when fresh.
Shelling beans are those beans that can become dried beans but are briefly available fresh, as shelling beans, in mid-summer to early fall depending on your climate.
Spinach, indeed, has a season. It varies with your climate - year-round in temperate areas, summer and fall in cooler areas, fall through spring in warmers regions.
Sweet potatoes are often sold as "yams." They store well and are available from local sources year-round in warmer areas; from late summer through winter other places.
Winter squash of all sorts comes into season in early fall and usually last well into winter.
Zucchini have a harvest season from summer into fall in most climates.