Posted by: christiejensen1 | March 8, 2012

Washing Fruits and Vegetables

I have been wondering the best way to wash fresh fruits and vegetables.  I am always very cautious about preparing raw meats, but I was wondering if running fresh produce under clean water is enough?  I found these helpful tips for cleaning fruits and vegetables.  Millions of people become sick each year from contaminated food with harmful germs.  Fresh produce can be a cause of outbreaks of foodborne illness.  The food can become contaminated in may ways.  During the growing phase, fruits and veggies may be contaminated by animals, harmful substances in the soil or water, and poor hygiene among workers. After produce is harvested, it passes through many hands, increasing the contamination risk. Contamination can even occur after the produce has been purchased, during food preparation, or through inadequate storage.  The FDA suggests to choose produce that isn’t bruised or damaged, and make sure pre-cut items (such as a bag of lettuce) is properly refrigerated.

 

Here are 7 helpful tips to follow:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
  • Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
  • Wash produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.
  • Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
  • Throw away the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.

Also remember to keep perishable produce at 40 degrees or below in the fridge.

I hope this post is helpful to you. With clean hands and plain running water you can prevent the spread of harmful germs that may be present on your fresh foods.  Remember to wash all fruits and vegetables before you peel or cut them even watermelon, onions, pineapple and cantaloupe.  Always wash the outside, even if you will be cutting away the outer layers.

Posted by: christiejensen1 | June 16, 2011

Healthy Snack Tips

I just found some great snack tips for kids.  It is found on the Mayo Clinic’s website.  There are ten tips as follows.

No. 1: Keep junk food out of the house

Keep the sweets out of the house, then you won’t be tempted.  This would be helpful for myself.  Parents need to set good examples by choosing healthy snacks for yourself.

No. 2: Go for the grain

Snack time is a great time to get your whole grains in.  These can be in whole grain pretzels, tortillas or whole grain cereals.

No. 3: Mix and match

Dip baby carrots in fat free ranch or hummus.  Dip fresh fruit in fat free yogurt.  Spread the peanut butter on veggies and fruit.  I know my kids love to dip stuff, so why not make it healthy.

No. 4: Broaden the menu

Try pineapple, cranberries, tangelos or roasted soy nuts.

No. 5: Revisit breakfast

Serve breakfast foods — such as scrambled eggs and whole-grain toast — as healthy snacks for kids in the afternoon.

No. 6: Sweeten it up

Just because it is healthy doesn’t mean it has to taste bland.  Give a little sweet stuff, fat-free pudding, frozen yogurt of fruit bars.  One of our favorites is a fresh fruit smoothie with skim milk and fat-free yogurt.

No. 7: Have fun

Make fruit kabobs (recipe is on an earlier post).  Make towers out of graham crackers, make funny faces out of your fruit.  Use cookie cutters with your whole grain breads or cheese.

No. 8: Promote independence

Keep a selection of ready-to-eat veggies in the refrigerator. Leave fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter. Store low-sugar, whole-grain cereal and fruit canned or packaged in its own juice in an easily accessible cabinet.

No. 9: Don’t be fooled by labeling gimmicks

Foods marketed as low-fat or fat-free can still be high in calories and sodium. Likewise, foods touted as cholesterol-free can still be high in fat, saturated fat and sugar. Check nutrition labels to find out the whole story.

No. 10: Designate a snacking zone

Restrict snacking to certain areas, such as the kitchen. You’ll save your child countless calories from mindless munching in front of the TV. If your child needs to snack on the go, offer string cheese, yogurt sticks, cereal bars, a banana or other drip-free items.

I hope this list is helpful to you.  It is great to be reminded to have healthy snacks.  There is so much processed unhealthy foods that are easy to buy.  It does take more effort and planning to have healthy snacks around, but what a great way to get more fruits, veggies and whole grains into your child’s diet (and yours!).

Posted by: christiejensen1 | June 13, 2011

Breastfeeding

One of the best things that you can do to raise healthy kids is to breastfeed.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding until 12 months of age.  There are so many benefits for the mother and the baby, associated with breastfeeding.

There are so many benefits for the baby!  I want to list them all, but here are a few:

  • Research shows that breastfed infants have fewer and shorter episodes of illness.
  • Breastfeeding appears to reduce the risk of obesity and hypertension.
  • Breastfeeding delays the onset of hereditary allergic disease, and lowers the risk of developing allergic disease.
  • Breastfeeding helps the baby’s immune system mature, protecting the baby in the meantime from viral, bacteria, and parasitic infections.
  • Breastfeeding increases the effectiveness of immunizations, increasing the protection against polio, tetanus, and diptheria vaccines.
  • Breastfeeding protects against developing chronic diseases such as: celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and childhood cancers.
  • The benefits of breastfeeding appear to last even after the baby has been weaned.

Some of the benefits for the mother include:

  • Research shows that breastfeeding benefits the health of mothers.
  • Breastmilk is always fresh, perfectly clean, just the right temperature, and is the healthy choice at the least cost!
  • From 3 months to 12 months postpartum, breastfeeding increases the rate of weight loss in most nursing mothers.
  • Breastfeeding offers some protection against the early return of fertility.
  • Because breastfed babies are healthier, their mothers miss less work and spend less time and money on pediatric care.
  • Breastfeeding women report psychological benefits such as increased self-confidence and a stronger sense of connection with their babies.

I know it may seem like a sacrifice to breastfeed your baby, but it is worth it!  The benefits are long-term and it is an investment in your babies future.  If you need support there are many places to go.  You can visit your local La Leche League.  There are also many books that are available at your local library.  Discussion question: Do you have a favorite breast-feeding book you would recommend?  What are/were great resources for you?

Posted by: christiejensen1 | June 13, 2011

Hand Washing

The best way to avoid getting sick and spreading germs is to wash your hands.  Kids are constantly exploring with their hands.  They bring home dirt and many other surprises (bugs, worms).  Here is a quote from kidshealth.org  “Good hand washing is the first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses, from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, influenza, hepatitis A, and most types of infectious diarrhea.”

So how do we encourage our kids to wash their hands and do it properly?

Here are the steps:

  1. Wash your hands in warm water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot for little hands.
  2. Use soap and lather up for about 20 seconds (antibacterial soap isn’t necessary — any soap will do). Make sure you get in between the fingers and under the nails where uninvited germs like to hang out. And don’t forget the wrists!
  3. Rinse and dry well with a clean towel.

The easiest way to have happy hand washing is to start teaching your kids to do it when they are young.  Once they establish the habit it can be fun.  Have a stool handy at home to make it easier for them to reach.  This is the best way to keep your families healthy and free from germs and sicknesses.

Posted by: christiejensen1 | June 13, 2011

Let’s Move!

The First Lady, Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move initiative. It is about putting children on the path to a healthy future while they are young.  She gives five simple steps for success for kids.

1. Move Every Day!

  • Kids need 60 minutes of active play each day.

2. Try a New Fruit or Veggie

  • Mix it up and try a variety of fruits and vegetables.

3. Drink Lots of Water

  • Reach for soda instead of soda or sports drinks filled with sugar.

4. Do Jumping Jacks to Break Up TV Time

  • Limit time watching TV and playing video games.  Make commercial time active time.

5. Help Make Dinner

  • Plan meals together as a family and enjoy being together.

These are all great suggestions.  I look forward to implementing these with my family.  For more information visit Let’s Move!

 

 

Posted by: christiejensen1 | June 13, 2011

Say Yes to Immunizations

I have heard a lot of moms discussing immunizations and questioning if they are really safe or needed.  I have wondered this myself.  I am a Public Health major at BYU and have learned in my classes that it is important to immunize our children and it is safe.  There have been no proven studies that immunizations cause autism, a common question for many parents.  A great resource that may help answer many of your questions is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Another common question is “haven’t we gotten rid of most of these diseases in this country?”  Most diseases prevented by vaccines are no longer common in our country.  If we were to stop vaccinating, a few cases of a disease could quickly become hundreds of thousands of cases.  When there is a decline in vaccination rates there are outbreaks that happen.  There was recently a measles outbreak in Salt Lake County.  “Measles is such a contagious virus, once it finds a cluster of people not vaccinated, it can spread quite quickly,” said the CDC’s Dr. Greg Wallace.

Immunizations also help those who can’t be immunized due to a medical condition.  I have chosen to immunized all of my children.  I feel that is important to protect their health and those they come in contact with.  Because of the advances in science we are able to protect our children against more diseases than ever before.  By immunizing I feel that I am making the best choice for my kids.

Posted by: christiejensen1 | June 13, 2011

Car Seat Safety

I found some interesting statistics on car seats.  In Utah County 88% of car seats are installed incorrectly.  I was surprised that it is so high.  Car seats are difficult to install and you must read the instructions very carefully, and sometimes it can still be hard to do it right.  It is important that we make sure our children’s car seats fit correctly.  Car crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages 14 and under.  Utah County Health Department offers car seat classes.  They are offered twice a month.  I hope to attend one soon.

I was in a car crash when my son was a year and a half old.  I know that his car seat kept him safe, but I did not have it installed properly.  There was a strap in the back that I didn’t realize could hook into my car.  After this experience I have been more careful when installing car seats.  We may think that we are safe drivers, but accidents do happen.  We can do our job and make sure our car seats are safe and the right size and style to fit our kids and vehicles properly.  Visit HealthyChildren.org for more car seat info.

 

Posted by: christiejensen1 | June 13, 2011

Healthy Kids’ Recipes

I just found a great website that has a long list of healthy recipes for kids.  Check out the website kidshealth.org  for the entire list.  They have recipes such as banana bread, fruit smoothies, snack mixes and many more.  One that I would like to try is great for this time of year it is the Fun Fruit Kabobs.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 c. red seedless grapes
  • 1/3 c. green seedless grapes
  • 2/3 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup nonfat yogurt
  • ¼ c. dried coconut, shredded

Utensils:

  • knife (you’ll need help from your adult assistant)
  • 2 wooden skewer sticks
  • large plate

Directions:

  1. Prepare the fruit by washing the grapes, washing the apples and cutting them into small squares, peeling the bananas and cutting them into chunks, and cutting the pineapple into chunks, if it’s fresh. Put the fruit onto a large plate.
  2. Spread coconut onto another large plate.
  3. Slide pieces of fruit onto the skewer and design your own kabob by putting as much or as little of whatever fruit you want! Do this until the stick is almost covered from end to end.
  4. Hold your kabob at the ends and roll it in the yogurt, so the fruit gets covered. Then roll it in the coconut.
  5. Repeat these steps with another skewer.

Serves: 4

Serving size: 1 kabob

Nutritional analysis (per serving):
141 calories
3 g fat
28 g carbohydrate
3 g fat
1 mg cholesterol
2 g saturated fat
52 mg sodium
103 mg calcium
0.5 mg iron
3 g fiber

Each recipe contains the nutrition information, which is a good resource for parents.  This is a recipe that kids can help make too.  Try adding a different variety of fruits to this recipe and make it your own.  I always love finding new recipes that my kids will love.

Posted by: christiejensen1 | June 10, 2011

Summer Safety

Now that Summer is here, our kids are spending more time outdoors and riding their bikes. Each year many die and more are seriously injured in bike, scooter, roller blade, and skateboard accidents.  The most serious accidents involve head injuries.  The best way to prevent these serious injuries is to wear a helmet.  A correctly fitted helmet can reduce the risk of head and brain injury by as much as 88 percent.  

Bike helmets are available at the local health department for a low cost of $10.00.  It will be a protection for your children and will save a lot of money by avoiding serious injuries.  I just purchased new helmets this Summer for my boys and found them at Target for about 10-15 dollars.  My kids were excited to get their new helmets and helped pick them out.  They have some cool designs if you want to spend a little more.  I even have a helmet for my one year old to wear in the bike trailer.  We have made it a habit to wear them and I have been wearing mine too.

Posted by: christiejensen1 | June 10, 2011

Your Water’s Fluoride

Fluoride in water is a safe and effective way to prevent tooth decay for all ages.  It has been recognized by the Center for Disease Control as one of the ten public health achievements of the 20th century.  Check to see if your water has fluoride here.  The link allows you to search by state, county and city.

The U.S. Public Health Service and CDC recommends fluoride levels in drinking water to range from 0.7 parts per million for warmer climates and 1.2 ppm for cooler climates, this accounts for the tendency for people to drink more water in warmer climates.

How has fluoride helped you?  When I was young I lived in California where the water was adequately fluoridated and I never had a cavity until age 26.  Over the past few decades the reason there has been a decline in cavities is because of fluoride. Fluoride even helps to repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible.  It is safe and effective when used appropriately.

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