Blog Site Discontinued June 23, 2017

Welcome. This blog site, healthy eating and food safety, has been discontinued as of June 23, 2017. I look forward to your comments and feedback regarding use of this tool to disseminate educational information.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Discontinuing Blog

Dear Readers,

I’d like to take this time to say, l am discontinuing my Blog articles and no longer writing to this Blog site.  I’d like to say thank you to all my loyal readers for following my Blog site throughout the years of its existence.
Judy Knudsen
Family Living Educator

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


There are more than 60 types of basil, all members of the mint family. Most recipes calling for basil mean sweet basil. The three most common basils are 1) Purple Opal with Its large, dark purple leaves that offer mildly spicy hints of clove, licorice, mint, and cinnamon. Its complexity shines in salads, baked goods, and beverages. 2) Thai has small, pointed leaves with serrated edges have peppery anise flavor. A hint of spicy heat makes this basil at home in Asian dishes. 3)Sweet Italian-this selection is the most common variety of basil, known for its licorice-clove flavor. Its clean, bright flavor makes it an ideal match for fresh tomatoes, or use it in Italian or Thai dishes.

Store basil in the refrigerator. Wrap it in paper towels and then in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. For long term storage, I like to take a dinner plate and place a paper towel on top of it. Then lay basil in a single layer. Cover with a second paper towel and microwave 1 ½ to 2 minutes. If leaves are not crunchy, microwave a few more seconds. Remove basil from plate and place and new paper towels on the counter. I have had success hanging basil and air drying. 

When using fresh basil in food preparation, I remove the larger stems and snip leaves with a scissors into smaller pieces. Another option is to gather several leaves and chop with a knife.

Fresh basil can be added to tomato sauce, soups, salads or pizza. Another option is to use basil in pesto and freeze the pesto in ice cube trays for later use.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Explore Local Farmers Markets

Explore Local Farmers Markets
Spring is the perfect time to connect with local farmers markets. Use the USDA Farmers Market Directory to find market locations, directions, operating times, product offerings, accepted forms of payment, and more.  Local markets are a great place to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs,
bread, meat, and dairy that is grown or produced in your area. Encourage your friends, family, and clients to explore local farmers markets.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Interactive Beverage Guide to Sugars

Interactive Beverage Guide to Sugars
To view information please click,

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ancient Grains Cooking Chart

Ancient Grains Cooking Chart
I have been experimenting with ancient whole grains.  I like buying them from the bulk food section at the grocery store, so I can buy enough to try without having to buy the whole container.  I recently found this chart from the Whole Grains Council which has been most helpful when cooking whole grains. 

To 1 cup of this grain
Add this much water
Bring to a boil and simmer for:
Amount after cooking
2 cups
20-25 minutes
3 ½ cups
Barley, hulled
3 cups
45-60 minutes
3 ½ cups
2 cups
20 minutes
4 cups
2 cups
10-12 minutes
3 cups
Cornmeal (Polenta)
4 cups
25-30 minutes
2 ½ cups
Couscous, whole wheat
2 cups
10 minutes (heat off)
3 cups
Kamut® grain
4 cups
Soak overnight then cook 45-60 minutes 
3 cups
Millet, hulled
2 ½ cups
20-35 minutes
4 cups
Oats, steel cut
4 cups
20 minutes
4 cups
Pasta, whole wheat
6 cups
8-12 minutes (varies by size)
2 cups
12-15 minutes
3+ cups
Rice, brown
2 1/2cups
25-45 minutes (varies by variety)
3-4 cups
Rye berries
4 cups
Soak overnight then cook 45-60 minutes
3 cups
4 cups
25-40 minutes
3 cups
Spelt berries
4 cups
Soak overnight, then cook 45-60 minutes
3 cups
Wheat berries
4 cups
Soak overnight, then cook 45-60 minutes
3 cups
Wild rice
3 cups
45-55 minutes
3 ½ cups

Friday, June 9, 2017

Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer

Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer
These short but safe time limits for home-refrigerated foods will keep them from spoiling or becoming dangerous to eat.  Click Storage Times Chart to review the Storage Times for Refrigerator and Freezer Chart.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Making Your Kitchen Free From Germs

Making Your Kitchen Free from Germs
Even though you may keep your kitchen very clean, there is still an opportunity for germs. Here are some places where germs may be lurking.

Can opener. Hand held can openers should be washed in the dishwasher or at least washed after every use. Electric can openers should be wiped down after using. Make certain to look for food residue on the blade.

Sponges. If you use a sponge, follow these instructions to ensure harmful bacteria are killed. After using the sponge, while it is still wet, place it in the microwave for two minutes. Another option is to place it in the top rack of the dishwasher. Many people assume that rinsing the sponge with water is sufficient.

Water dispensers and coffee reservoirs. Most refrigerator water dispensers can be cleaned with a vinegar solution. Coffee machine reservoirs are dark and damp and a great place for mold and mildew to grow. Pour about four cups of white vinegar in the reservoir and run the vinegar through the unit, followed by two or three cycles of water. This should be done every 40 to 80 brew cycles. The instruction manual that came with the appliance may have information as well.

Meat and vegetable compartments. Meat and vegetable compartments are another place where bacteria can grow. Keep everything raw and cooked separated. Remove the containers and wash them with warm soapy water about every two to four weeks. Also it is a good idea to wipe down the inside walls of the refrigerator on an occasional basis.  

Gaskets. Blender gaskets along with removable gaskets found around the lids of some food storage containers are places where bacteria can lurk. Make sure to unscrew the blade assembly and wash all parts and dry thoroughly after every use. For food storage containers, any unattached gaskets should be removed, cleaned, and dried after every use. 


Monday, June 5, 2017

Make the Most of Springtime Gardening

Make the Most of Springtime Gardening

You might harvest more than flowers and vegetables by working outside in your garden. Research shows that other benefits come from nurturing plants in your backyard, or a school or community garden. For example, people’s attitudes towards health and nutrition improve when they have access to a garden, kids perform better in school, and communities may even grow closer. 

Gardens are popping up everywhere and deserve our support. Here are some family-friendly tips for you to get the most out of the gardening season. Gardening is a great way to be active.
Family gardens
Planting and caring for a family garden can be a great way to bring the family together.
—Start small. Window boxes or containers (recycled clean bleach or milk containers work well) can become planters.
—Get some child-sized tools from a local nursery or garden center. Plastic spoons and shovels work well, too.
—Make your own compost. Find a location in your yard behind a tree, or dig a hole in the ground. Add rinds and peels from fruit, coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggshells—never anything that swam, walked or flew. Wait several months for your compost to turn black and crumbly and then mix with soil and use for fertilizer.
School gardens
—School gardens offer educational opportunities that span many fields, including biology, chemistry, mathematics, culinary arts, business studies and design. Finding the connections between these topics provides an engaging learning experience students can continue outside of class.
—Students of all skill levels can participate in activities from designing the garden to gathering the harvest. Visual, verbal, interpersonal and a variety of other essential skills are needed for a school garden to flourish.
—School gardens create a means to enjoy healthy food, encourage environmental stewardship, and support active lifestyles among children of all ages.
Be a good steward
Spring offers an opportunity to be a good steward of the land. Below are ideas and activities to consider as you spend time outdoors this spring and summer.
—Plant a rain garden to help protect the natural water supply. Storm water may pick up materials that can pollute water. Rain gardens are designed to capture this rainwater before it becomes runoff, protecting the environment and groundwater. Many plants suitable for a rain garden also attract pollinating insects, butterflies and birds.
—Plant a pollinator garden. Food crops rely on honeybees, native bees, and other pollinators to survive. Attract and nurture these creatures by planting nectar-rich, flower-filled gardens. Planting a pollinator garden in a school area can lead to lessons in botany, entomology, food systems and native populations.
—Plant a tree. You’ve probably heard this one before, but the power of a tree cannot be underestimated. Trees purify the air we breathe, take up and store carbon, and help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They provide food and shelter to birds and other wildlife, help reduce energy needs by moderating winter winds and summer heat, and even provide us with fruit.

Source: Amber Canto, Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program (WNEP) state coordinator.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Healthy Aging

Healthy Aging
There are many aspects to consider when thinking about healthy aging including eating healthy, exercising on a regular basis, and keeping your mind active. Fortunately, making small changes in your diet can have an impact on aging.
What is on your plate? Next time you sit down to eat, take time to examine what is on your plate.
  • “Eat a rainbow” of fruits and vegetables by including many different colors.
  • Make sure half of the grains you eat are whole grains such as oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice or products that include whole wheat flour.
  • Eat only a small amount of foods with added sugar.
  • Consume foods that contain healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats, like those found in seeds, nuts, avocados and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
  • Try to include seafood in your meal planning twice a week.
Essential nutrients are also an important part of a healthy diet. These include:
  • Calcium and Vitamin D which aid in maintaining strong bones. Good sources include low-fat or fat-free milk and other calcium rich products, dark green leafy vegetables and foods fortified with calcium.
  • Vitamin B12 which helps aid in the proper formation of red blood cells, brain function and synthesis of DNA. Sources of this vitamin include fish, meat, poultry, and fortified cereals.
  • Fiber-rich foods can help your digestive system stay regular. It also helps reduce your risk for heart disease, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Health Benefits of Turmeric
“Curcuma long” also known as turmeric is native to Southern Asia and has been used for over 5,000 years. It is commonly used in food as a coloring and flavoring agent in many popular Asian cuisines. Turmeric is multi-functional, it can be used in food, as a dye, chemical indicator and as medicinal or Ayurveda remedies.
It contains an active compound known as curcumin or curcumenoids which are highly anti-inflammatory. They contain numerous benefits which helps relieve pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties and can ease arthritis. It can also help diabetic with regulating their blood sugar levels. Another benefit for turmeric includes antimicrobial properties, which helps fight off microbes, which can also lead to faster wound healing. Including turmeric in your foods will help support liver detoxification and helps boost two antioxidants in the body that aid in cellular function. Curcumin is beneficial for individuals with heart conditions by preventing clogging of arteries and reducing cholesterol levels.

The recommended dosage of turmeric for adults is 400-600mg three times a day. There are many ways to include it in your diet, by either adding it to food or drinks or taking supplements, which can be found at health food stores.

Source: Michigan State University Extension and Salon Jain GVSU Dietetic Intern

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Container Gardening for Growing Food

Container Gardening for Growing Food
Growing fresh food is not just for farmers and people living in rural areas with ample space for gardening. Gardening and growing your own food is for anyone interested in having the freshest food available, and it can be done through container gardens.

The container to brighten up your small space is not just a pot or two of geraniums, a tall spike or a trailing vine anymore. At one time, these containers were just a splash of living color and something to nurture. These pots were great for people who lived in smaller spaces; they added color, texture and really brightened up small, outdoor living spaces. Patios, front porches and back decks were homes for these traditional containers. These pots are still great, but they are not the container of 2017. The container of 2017 is growing food. It might be growing food with colorful annuals, or the color and texture could come from the leaves, fruits and flowers of the fruits and vegetables grown for eating.

People are experimenting with growing more fruits and vegetables in containers, on trellises and in limited space. Some examples include baskets or buckets of tomatoes hanging upside down, sweet corn on your deck and herbs in window boxes. With the growing interest in fresh, local food, eating locally cannot get more local than your own porch or patio. Growing produce and herbs are at an all-time high. Garden centers are stocking up on plants and seeds for the traditional gardener as well as those with limited space for gardening, and container gardens.

Anything goes when container gardening. I have used beet leaves as a colorful, tall center piece in my flowering annual pots; it is pretty all summer long and I harvest the beets at the end of the season. I always grow my herbs in a variety of pots just outside my kitchen door. It is a nice, sunny location and I can step out and snip what I need for cooking or grilling. Since my pots are in a location convenient to where I am cooking, I use more fresh herbs than I would have if I had to go out to the garden.

When looking through the latest seed catalogs and gardening magazines, there is a vast amount of information on growing vegetables in a container on a patio or deck that used to take quite a bit of space in the home garden. This is even catching on as a trend with people who have space to garden, but like the ease of growing vertically and reducing the amount of work a traditional garden takes.

Container gardening for food is a not just a fad; growing food in creative ways is here to stay. More and more people who live in apartments, condominiums and other places with limited space are experimenting with growing fresh food on their patios, decks and balconies. Seed companies have kept up with this trend as they keep developing varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs that will grow in containers.
Dixie Sandborn, Michigan State University Extension

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Would Your Kitchen Pass a Food Safety Inspection?

Would Your Kitchen Pass a Food Safety Inspection? 
Restaurants must pass regular food safety inspections to stay open. Would YOUR kitchen pass a food safety inspection?
In the United States, the “Food Code” — developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — serves as a model to help health jurisdictions nationwide develop food service food safety standards.
For consumers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) and FDA work together to provide food safety guidelines for use in the home. NOTE: Consumer guidelines sometimes differ slightly from restaurant guidelines due to such factors as differences in home and professional equipment.
DIRECTIONS: With these guidelines in mind, let’s see if your kitchen would measure up! Choose the answers that most closely apply to YOUR everyday practices in your kitchen. Then compare your answers with the desired practices according to government guidelines for consumers.
1. How long do you leave perishable foods at room temperature? (Examples include meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products and cooked leftovers.)
a) 2 or less hours
b) No more than 6 hours
c) I haven’t paid attention to how much time they are at room temperature
2. What is the temperature of your home refrigerator?
a) 50ºF
b) 40ºF or below
c) I don’t know
3. How many days do you usually store perishable leftovers in the refrigerator?
a) 3 to 4 days
b) A week or more
c) My leftovers usually spoil before I get around to eating them
4. How do you determine whether you have cooked meat, poultry and seafood to a safe temperature?
a) Cut into it to see if the juices run clear
b) Check if it is no longer pink in the middle
c) Use a food thermometer

Answers to Food Safety Inspection Questions  
1. a) Two or less hours: Illness-causing bacteria can grow in perishable foods within two hours unless refrigerated — and within one hour if the temperature is 90ºF or higher. Divide leftovers into clean, shallow containers so they chill faster and refrigerate within two hours. Refrigerate within one hour when the temperature is 90ºF or above.
2. b) 40ºF or below: Your refrigerator should be between 40ºF and 32ºF. Your freezer should be at 0ºF. Use an appliance thermometer to assure your refrigerator and freezer are cold enough. NOTE: Freezing doesn’t destroy bacteria but keeps them from growing in food products until you cook the food. Quality should remain high for most frozen foods for 3–6 months. For specific food items and to learn if they might stay fresh longer, see the FoodKeeper app developed by USDA, Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute: Access the app through your web browser; it is also available as a mobile application for Android and Apple devices.
3. a) 3 to 4 days: Use refrigerated, perishable leftovers within 3 to 4 days or freeze them in airtight freezer-quality packaging or storage containers. Frozen leftovers are at best quality for about 3 to 4 months; however, they will be safe indefinitely at 0ºF.
4. c) Use a food thermometer: You can’t tell whether meat, poultry or seafood is safely cooked by looking at it. They can be pink even when they have reached a safe internal temperature. You can’t count on a food being at a desirable end temperature when the juices run clear; for example, a turkey may be overcooked by the time the juices run clear. USDA recommends these temperatures:
Product Minimum Internal Temperature
  • Beef, pork, veal & lamb (steaks, chops, roasts) 145°F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
  • Ground meats 160°F (71.1 °C)
  • All poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry, and stuffing) 165°F
  • Fish & shellfish 145°F
Source: Alice Henneman, MS, RDN Extension Educator, Lancaster County, University of Nebraska Extension

Friday, May 19, 2017

Healthy Habits Make a Difference in Parenting

Healthy Habits Make a Difference in Parenting
Parenting is one of the most rewarding and difficult jobs we experience. Each child has different temperaments throwing another spin in the parenting job. Most parents strive to have their children grow up to be healthy, happy and productive citizens.
To reach these parenting goals, it is beneficial for children to have healthy role models as parents or caregivers. Children witnessing healthy behaviors and attitude, living in an environment conducive to offer lower stress, proper nutrition and having the opportunity to be physically active will help health become the norm. Parents and caregivers choosing a healthy lifestyle increase the likelihood of their children adopting these skills as well.
Children living in households offering a nutritionally sound diet, physically active, as well as having positive outlets for dealing with stress are more likely to:
  • Have a healthy weight for height
  • Mental well-being
  • Ability to learn and concentrate
  • Strong bones and muscles
  • Good energy level
  • Ability to fight off sickness and disease
  • Faster wound healing
  • Easier recovery from illness or injury
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancers, and bone disease in the future
Here are some ideas to be a positive role model for the children in your life:
  • Do not label food as “good” or “bad”
  • Eat a variety of nutritionally packed foods
  • Eat breakfast
  • Make physical activity fun and family inclusive
  • Please don’t make food or exercise punishment
  • Find positive ways of dealing with stress
  • Keep communication lines open
  • Try not to take things personally when children lash out
 Parents and caregivers do not have to be perfect to be positive role models. Small steps in positive directions go a long way to achieve healthy environments.
Michigan State University Extension offers programs to help parents and caregivers to move toward a healthy lifestyle.Erin Carter, Michigan State University Extension