checking food temperature with food thermometer

Safe Temperatures for Food

Just like us, bacteria need food and water to grow and multiply. They also need a comfortable living environment, not too cold and not too hot. Bacteria that cause food borne illnesses are commonly found in foods we eat. So how do we keep this food safe to eat? By making it hard for bacteria to grow, multiply, or survive by how we handle food. Along with handwashing, keeping foods at the right temperature is an important part of proper food safety. Bacteria grow best between 40 °F and 140 °F. They can double in number in as little as 20 minutes. It only takes a few bacteria to make you very sick. To prevent bacteria from growing in your food, follow these steps when storing and cooking food. Continue reading

standing quad stretch

Stretching and Flexibility Training for Fitness

There are four types of physical activities that we should perform for overall fitness – aerobic (cardio) exercise, strength (resistance) training, balance exercises, and flexibility training. Cardio and strength training are emphasized a lot, but balance and flexibility are just as important. Flexibility exercises maintain or improve the range of motion in our joints, allowing us to squat all the way down, reach our arm behind our back, and twist our trunks from side to side. Flexibility training is functional training. This allows you to pick up heavy things from the floor without injury, zip your dress all the way up your back, and other common movements in your daily life. And it feels good to stretch your body and loosen up all your muscles. Continue reading

pack lunch for school

Packed lunches for busy families

Summer is coming to an end and students are heading back to school. Despite the improvements in the quality of school meals in recent years, some families prefer to pack their own lunches. Unfortunately, many packed lunches don’t match up to the nutrition standards of school lunches. Many common packed lunches provide too much sodium, fat, and sugar and lack enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains or dairy. To help your kids eat smart, here is a list of ideas for tasty, easy, low-cost, and healthy packed lunch ideas. Continue reading

shopping at the farmers market

Price of Food at Farmers Markets

Farmers markets offer a wide variety of fresh, local fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, baked goods and more. The quality of produce is generally unbeatable, as most fruits and veggies are picked at the peak of ripeness just days or even hours before you buy them. And many farmers selling at the market follow organic practices. Animal farmers tend to have smaller operations and use smaller processing facilities. All of these factors add up to higher prices, right? You might be surprised. Continue reading

shopping at farmers markets

Farmers Market Resources

National Farmers Market Week starts Sunday, August 6th. This week highlights the important role farmers markets play in the nation’s food system. Last year, $20.2 million of SNAP funds were used at farmers markets in the United States, helping families buy fresh, healthy food and support their local farmers. Right here in Virginia, we have 250 markets, more than twice the number from just 10 years ago. Ninety-seven Virginia farmers markets accept SNAP, and many offer SNAP matching as well. The best way to celebrate is to visit your local market. To make it easier for first-time shoppers and busy families, here’s a collection of great resources for shopping at a farmers market on a budget. Continue reading