Taking Care of Your Kitchen: 5 things you need to know to keep your food safe

Cooking is fun to do at home, but there are a lot of risks that come with preparing food. Microorganisms grow quickly in food and can make people sick, but you can prevent them from becoming a problem in your kitchen. Here are 5 things you need to remember to keep your food safe.refrigerator-interior

Acidity Microorganisms grow very quickly in foods that don’t contain much acid. Items like egg salad or tuna salad contain very little acid so, left in the wrong conditions, they can spoil very quickly. By adding acid like lemon juice or vinegar to low-acid foods, you can reduce the risk of microorganisms spreading.

Temperature Microorganisms develop fastest when food temperature is between 40°F and 140°F. This range is considered the temperature danger zone. Refrigerators are typically set at less than 40°F and most food is cooked to a temperature higher than 140°F. Your biggest concerns would be for food left out at room temperature (about 60°F to 90°F). Tip: keep the hot stuff hot and the cold stuff cold.

Time Microorganisms require time to flourish. When food is left in the temperature danger zone, it grows quickly – multiplying every minute it’s left out. After four hours, microorganisms can grow to levels high enough to make someone sick.

Oxygen Most microorganisms need oxygen to grow. Keeping food sealed in plastic and glass containers helps keep oxygen out and prevent bacteria from growing.

Moisture Microorganisms need water to grow. Many microorganisms die in dry conditions, so spoilage can be controlled by dehydration. food

Foods most likely to spoil:

  • Milk and dairy products
  • Sprouts
  • Cooked rice, beans and vegetables
  • Baked potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Soy products
  • Sliced melons and cut tomatoes

There are also some foods that won’t spoil easily. Food like bread can be left out at room temperature because it contains little acid, but it contains moisture so it will spoil eventually. Cookies and crackers don’t have much acid in them and contain little moisture, so they can be left out at room temperature for extended periods without spoiling. Most fruit have acid in them so they can be left at room temperature for a period as well, but both bread and fruit won’t spoil as quickly if they are refrigerated.

Food is fickle. While you can manage all of the factors that cause food to spoil, the only two things you can control are time and temperature. So if something is sitting on the counter and you didn’t put it there remember one thing:  when in doubt, throw it out.

Gearing up for the Breast Cancer Walk: How to Prepare

walking-crowdMillions of people across the country are getting ready to lace up their sneakers to walk in support of breast cancer research and awareness. If you’re one of the millions gearing up for the Breast Cancer Walk, here are some ideas on how to prepare before you set out on your journey.

Before the Walk

Walking isn’t the most strenuous of exercises, but it’s still exercise and when you’re walking for miles, it takes training. The amount of time you spend on training depends on the distance your charity walk is. Generally, you’ll want to walk 30 minutes five days a week, increasing the walk time by five minutes each week. Use a 13-mile training schedule as a guide for your training. Walk rain or shine during your training because you never know what the weather will be on the day of the big walk.

Make sure you have shoes dedicated to walking. When you walk for exercise, you walk differently than you would doing errands or going to work and your shoes adapt to how you walk. This can reduce your risk of injury and blisters.

Stay Motivated

Walk with a training group for some of your walks. This can give you a chance to meet other people walking for your cause. Another way to stay motivated is by keeping a walking log or journal where you can track your progress.

Information

As walk day approaches, start gathering information about what you’ll need on the day of the race. Generally, organizers send you a walk day packet or send you information on where to pick up your packet. The packet can include:

  • Information on how to get to the start and when you should arrive
  • Your number
  • Safety pins for your number

tying-shoeWalk Day

Carry as little as possible. It takes a lot of energy to carry even small items. The longer you carry something, the heavier it feels and it uses energy you need to get across the finish line. Items you should carry:

  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Poncho or light rain jacket
  • Protein bars
  • First aid kit (small)

Wear moisture wicking clothes. Moisture wicking clothes draws moisture away from your body so your body can regulate its temperature based on the elements rather than moisture gathered on your body.

Drink before you get thirsty and eat before you get hungry. Eat about 100 calories each hour you’re walking. Staying hydrated and energized can keep you going and you’ll feel less exhausted toward the end.

Start slow. When the walk begins, the crowd can be big and hard to navigate. When the crowd thins out, start walking at a comfortable pace for you. Be aware and respectful of other walkers and volunteers. Walk only in designated areas.

After the Walk

Now that you’ve completed the big Breast Cancer Walk, you’ve got a great base for an exercise regimen. Keep it up and start thinking about your next charity walk. Do good things for a good cause and do good things for yourself.

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