Sunday, January 31, 2016

Learn to Choose Foods to Manage Your Blood Sugar

Due to grant restrictions and low enrollment our annual kitchen creations cooking school has been cancelled, so we are offering this workshop in the morning as well as the evening.  

The Quay County Extension Service is offering a workshop; Meal Planning Tips for People With Diabetes. “This workshop is designed for people who could not attend our annual cooking school and will include some of the information that has been proven successful by our cooking school attendees”, says Brenda Bishop, Extension Home Economist.   Topics covered will include the importance of managing carbohydrates, identifying carbohydrates and making our favorite foods work in a healthy meal plan.

This workshop will be offered twice on February 9, 2016 beginning at 10:00 a.m. and again 5:30 pm.  The workshop will last about 1 ½ hours and snacks will be served.  People who have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or who care for those with diabetes are encouraged to attend.  Both classes will be held at the Extension Office located in the Terry Turner Building at 216 E Center Street in Tucumcari.  Please RSVP by calling 461-0562.

The Quay County Extension Service is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.  If you are a person in need of an auxiliary service to participate in this workshop, please call 461-0562 by February 5th.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Use This Test to Make Sure Your Crockpot is Getting Hot Enough

Do you have an older slow cooker?  Are you wondering if it is still safe to use?  Here is an easy test.
To determine if a slow cooker is safe to use: Fill the slow cooker one-half to two-thirds full of tap water.  Heat on a low setting for 8 hours with the lid on.  Check the water temperature with an accurate food thermometer. Do this quickly because the temperature drops 10 – 15 degrees when the lid is raised or removed.  The temperature of the water should be 185°F. Temperatures below 185°F would indicate the slow cooker does not heat food high enough or fast enough to avoid potential food safety problems; the slow cooker is unsafe and should be replaced.

Safety Tips When Cooking in a Slow Cooker or Crockpot

This week I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop on Slow Cooking and using multi-cookers three times.  Each time during our discussions, I learned something new from those who were attending.  During our discussion around food safety some of these reminders surprised our attendees and created some good discussion.  I thought I would share them with you

Food Safety Reminders:

  1. Be sure to read the book and follow the directions that come with the appliance.
  2. Start with clean hands, utensils surfaces and a clean cooker.
  3. Always thaw meat or poultry before putting it into a slow cooker. If frozen pieces are used, they will not reach 140° quick enough and could possibly result in a foodborne illness
  4. Preheat the crock-pot and add hot liquids, if possible. Preheating the crock before adding ingredients or cooking on the highest setting for the first hour will ensure a rapid heat start. Either way will shorten the time foods are in the temperature danger zone. This is highly recommended when cooking meat or poultry in a slow cooker.
  5. Do not use the warm setting to cook food. It is designed to keep cooked food hot.
  6. Do not reheat food or leftovers in a slow cooker; instead reheat on stove top or microwave and transfer to slow cooker to keep warm (140°F. or above)
  7.  Dried beans, especially kidney, contain a natural toxin. These toxins are easily destroyed by boiling. Safe steps for preparing would include soaking the beans for 12 hours, rinsing, and then boiling for at least 10 minutes, before adding the beans to a slow cooker. 
  8. Research conducted by USDA FSIS indicates it is safe to cook large cuts of meat and poultry in a slow cooker. Follow the manufacturer's recipes and safety guidelines. 
  9. Since vegetables cook the slowest, place them near the heat, at the bottom and sides of the slow cooker or crockpot.
  10.  Do not lift the lid or cover unnecessarily during the cooking cycle. Each time the lid is raised, the internal temperature drops 10 - 15 degrees and the cooking process is slowed by 30 minutes. 
  11.  Before taking a bite, check meat and poultry with a food thermometer to make sure it has reached a safe internal temperate to destroy bacteria. Roasts: 145°F to 160°F; poultry: 165°F; soups, stews, sauces: 165°F  
  12. Do not leave cooked food to cool down in the crock. Eat immediately or place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate.

Foods that are held in the danger zone of 40 to 140 degrees will grow bacteria fastest.   There is some concern about crock-pots, but research shows them to be safe if used properly. The slow cooker cooks foods slowly at a low temperature, generally between 170° and 280° F, over several hours. The combination of direct heat from the pot, lengthy cooking time and circulation of steam, destroy bacteria making the slow cooker a safe process for cooking foods.  The time necessary to thaw meat and get it to temperature is too long when using a slow-cook method, so make sure to use thawed meat or to use a multi-cooker on a higher setting.
What Should You Do If The Power Goes Out?
If you are not at home during the entire slow-cooking process and the power goes out, throw away the food even if it looks done.  If you are at home, finish cooking the ingredients immediately by some other means: on a gas stove, on the outdoor grill or at a house where the power is on.  When you are at home, and if the food was completely cooked before the power went out, the food should remain safe up to two hours in the cooker with the power off.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Safe Preserving: Fermented Foods

There has been an explosion of different kinds of fermented products in the marketplace.
In the manufacture of beer and wine, sugar (glucose) is consumed by yeast and alcohol is produced.
In the manufacture of beer and wine, sugar (glucose) is consumed by yeast and alcohol is produced.
Foods such as sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha and yogurts of all kinds are increasingly found at farmers’ markets and retail stores. Some of these products may be safely made at home, while others can not.
Fermentation. Fermented products are preserved by the action of microorganisms. Microorganisms (bacteria, yeast and/or mold) consume sugars and produce primarily acid or alcohol; carbon dioxide (CO2) is also produced.
In the manufacture of sauerkraut or genuine (crock) dill pickles, bacteria consume sugar (glucose) from cabbage leaves or cucumbers and produce acid, giving sauerkraut or crock dills their traditional tangy taste.
In the manufacture of cheese and yogurt, bacteria consume lactose (milk sugar) and produce lactic acid, allowing milk to coagulate and also providing flavor.
Newer products such as kombucha are the product of tea fermented using both bacteria and yeast to product a tangy, and bubbly, product. Kombucha is claimed to be good for human health, but research has found no evidence to support this claim. In fact, if kombucha is made using contaminated yeast and bacteria, it may be harmful.
Tested recipes for consumers support the home-manufacture of sauerkraut, genuine dill pickles, and yogurt. The home-manufacture of other products such as kimchee, kombucha, or fermenting other vegetables such as carrots or beets, is not recommended since safe guidelines have not been established for these products.
Steps for safely fermenting sauerkraut and genuine dills.cabbage There are several steps which allow for the safe home-manufacture of sauerkraut and genuine dill pickles.
  1. Use the correct proportion of salt to vegetables. Salt is important in fermenting cabbage and cucumbers. Salt selects for the right kind of bacteria (good bacteria) which produce the acid needed for fermentation, while also preventing harmful bacteria from growing. Salt helps to draw sugars out of the cucumbers or cut cabbage leaves, supporting the fermentation reaction. Salt also helps to lower the amount of oxygen in a crock or bucket, also supporting fermentation. When making genuine dills, acid (vinegar) is also added to the crock to help select for just the right bacteria for a successful fermentation.
  2. Use the right type of salt. Tested recipes call for the use of canning and pickling salt, not table salt or other kitchen salts. If canning and pickling salt is not used, the proportion of salt to vegetable may be ‘off.’
  3. Ferment at the proper temperature. Fermentation is best achieved at 68-72°F, although the range from 60-78°F may work. At ideal temperatures, fermentation may take 3-4 weeks, at lower temperatures fermentation may take 5-6 weeks. If the temperature is too high, spoilage bacteria will take over and ruin the fermentation.
  4. Seal the crock or bucket. The good bacteria which ferment cucumbers or cabbage grow best in a low-oxygen environment. Traditionally a crock to bucket was sealed with a plate and a stone or brick on top.  A better seal is achieved with a food-grade plastic bag filled with brine. When the crock is properly sealed, you won’t have to ‘skim the scum’ that forms at the surface! Use only food-grade containers for fermentation. Many people still use traditional crocks; if the crock is leaking or cracked, line with a food-grade plastic bag prior to adding cucumbers or cabbage. Food-grade buckets or pails (3-5 gallons) such as those containing ice cream topping or deli salads make excellent fermentation vessels once they are cleaned and sanitized. Do not use trash cans for fermentation.
  5. Process sauerkraut or dills after fermentation. Once fermentation is complete, stabilize the sauerkraut or dills by canning. You may store the product in the refrigerator or keep it in the crock, but product texture and flavor will suffer. Follow an approved recipe for canning.
Enjoy these and other fermented foods (beer and cheese) for a real taste of Wisconsin. Safe preserving! Barb
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What Soup Should You Make Tonight?

Click on this link for a short quiz about what you have and like, then you will get a suggestion for a new soup creation.

What Soup Should You Make Tonight?: Soup is the perfect winter comfort food. With seemingly infinite ingredient combinations, the only hard thing about soup is choosing which one to make. So grab a pot and take this quiz to see which one you’re in the mood for tonight!

Program On Slow Cooking and new appliances

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Are You Seeing All the Health Benefits of Carrots?

Bugs Bunny, always depicted munching on a carrot, may have been onto something. Researchers have found that carrot consumption not only helps insure an adequate intake of a variety of important nutrients and fiber, but may also reduce your risk of chronic disease.

"Carrots are so much a part of our diet that their health benefits may have been overlooked," says Elizabeth J. Johnson, PhD, a scientist in Tufts' HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory who specializes in vitamin A and carotenoid compounds. "They are best known for their beta-carotene content (a form of vitamin A), but are also packed with a range of other phytochemicals and nutrients that contribute to optimal health."

COLORFUL CULTIVATION: Not surprisingly, according to some accounts, carrots were first cultivated as medicinal plants. Originating in the Middle East and present-day Afghanistan, the carrot is related to a family of plants, Umbelliferae, that produce umbrella-like flower clusters; these include celery, fennel, parsnips, dill and parsley. Early carrots were purple, red, yellow and white, with the familiar orange color not developed until the 16th and 17th centuries, by Dutch growers. The name "carrot" comes from the Greek "karoton," meaning horn-like and referring to the shape of the root that’s the most commonly consumed part of the plant. (Carrot greens are also edible and are high in vitamin K.)

With just 25 calories in one medium carrot, you get 1.7 grams of fiber (6.8% of the Daily Value), 195 milligrams of potassium (5.6% of the DV), 3.6 milligrams of vitamin C (6% of the DV) and smaller amounts of other nutrients. The fiber in carrots includes pectin, which may have cholesterol-lowering properties.

Carrots are best known as a source of vitamin A, mostly in the form of beta-carotene. A single medium carrot delivers almost twice the DV of vitamin A, which is associated with carrots’ most celebrated health benefit - improving your vision. Except for people with vitamin A deficiency (rare in developed countries), however, eating more carrots is actually unlikely to help you see better. That popular association came from an advertising campaign by the British Royal Air Force in World War II, designed to throw off the Germans by crediting carrots - instead of the secret invention of radar - for pilots' keen eyesight.

One study did find that women who ate more carrots had lower rates of glaucoma. Animal studies have linked nutrients in carrots to reduced risk of cataracts.

HEART HOPES: Like all healthy foods, carrots are much more than just the sum of their individual nutrients. A 10-year Dutch study published in 2011 in the British Journal of Nutrition, for example, linked consumption of deep-orange fruits and vegetables - especially carrots - to a lower risk of coronary heart disease. People who ate at least 25 grams (0.9 ounces, less than half a medium carrot) daily were at significantly lower risk. Carrots, the largest contributor to orange-produce intake, were specifically associated with a 32% lower risk compared to those eating almost none.

A group of phytonutrients found in carrots called polyacetylenes, including the compounds falcarinol and falcarindiol, have also attracted scientific interest for possible cardiovascular benefits. These compounds are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and to keep blood cells from clumping together. Other studies are investigating these compounds' ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Different-colored carrots contain different potentially beneficial antioxidants. Red carrots are high in lycopene, while purple carrots get their color from anthocyanins, much like berries.

PREP PUZZLES: Much debate has focused on the preparation methods most likely to obtain the most nutrients from carrots. For starters, if you buy organic carrots it’s not necessary to peel them, and some studies have found that the peel is richest in nutrients. (If you're watching your budget, however, carrots are not on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of produce most important to buy organic because of pesticide concerns.) A few tests have also suggested that cutting or chopping carrots after cooking, rather than before, preserves more nutrients.

Juicing, an increasingly popular way to consume carrots and other produce, is fine if it gets you to eat more vegetables and fruits - but keep in mind that you're leaving the beneficial fiber of carrots behind. (Using a blender instead of a juice extractor preserves the fiber.)

What about raw versus cooked? The science is mixed. While cooking destroys some heat-sensitive nutrients, such as vitamin C, it helps make others more readily absorbed by the body. Steaming or microwaving carrots, rather than boiling them, loses fewer nutrients to the cooking water. Roasting carrots brings out their natural sweetness. The bottom line? Eat your carrots however you think they taste best - just eat more of them.

Article from Tuff's Health and Nutrition Update January 18, 2016