Protect Yourself From Food Poisoning

You can enjoy traveling and good health if you’re prepared to use some care! By heeding a few hints from the experts at the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, you may be able to avoid getting sick when traveling:

• Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling any food. If soap and clean running water are not available, use moist towelettes or a hand sanitizer.
• If you are traveling with cold food, bring a cooler packed with plenty of ice, frozen gel packs or another cold source.
• Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
• If you’ll be preparing your food at home, wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, countertops) with hot, soapy water before and after preparing each food item.
• Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Placing ready-to-eat food on a surface that held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs can spread bacteria and make you sick. Keep meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all other foods in the fridge. Bacteria can spread inside your fridge if the juices of raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs drip onto ready-to-eat foods.
• Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating. Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm.
• Refrigerate leftovers and takeout foods within two hours. If the temperature is above 90° F, food should not be left out more than one hour. Refrigerated leftovers should be used within three to four days or frozen.
• Foods should be reheated thoroughly to a safe internal temperature of 165° F or until hot and steaming.
• Don’t taste food that looks or smells questionable. When in doubt, throw it out.

For more information, visit www.fsis.usda.gov or ask a food safety question anytime at www.AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov.

*Article courtesy of NAPS.net. Image: Ohmega1982 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

While peaches are in season, head to your local farmer’s market to pick up some fresh peach jam to fill this sinfully rich cheesecake!

Peach Cheesecake

Ingredients

Crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted (“Mom” prefers organic)

Filling:

2 (“Mom” prefers cage-free)
12 ounces cream cheese, softened (“Mom” prefers organic)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup peach jam, plus 1 cup

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium size bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar and butter. Mix well and place in the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform cake pan. Make sure to press against the sides and bottom of the pan. Set crust aside.

Prepare the filling by beating the eggs and cream cheese together. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until well blended. Add 1/4 cup peach jam and mix until incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Remove cake from oven and top with remaining 1 cup peach jam. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Pearson Farm, a fifth-generation family-owned business dedicated to growing Georgia Peaches and Georgia Pecans.*

Like every mom, “Mom” is on-the-move with a toddler in tow – running errands, working full-time, tending house, cooking meals, doing laundry, going to pediatrician’s appointments – the list goes on, and that is all before bathtime and bedtime! It can be hard to remember to take care of yourself when taking care of the rest of your family, and to help women stay healthy, Skinnygirl™ has created a convenient and simple nutritional option – Daily On-the-Go Vitamin Power Packets!

Mom” loves this idea – just add to cold water and mix! For your dose of daily vitamins and electrolytes, Skinnygirl™ Daily Vitamin Power Packets are available in four tasty flavors, each with their own beneficial function: Energy & Alertness, Immunity, Stress Relief & Calm and Hair Skin Nails. (Ummm… “Mom” needs all four!) On any given (busy!) day, the single-serving packet will provide essential nutrition without slowing you down. Simply choose your desired health effect, mix in cold water, and drink. The packets are small enough to tuck in a purse, backpack, diaper bag or even pocket for when you are out and about during the day. For those who want to try all four flavors, the Variety Pack is an excellent option!

To learn more about Skinnygirl™’s new Daily On-the-Go Vitamin Power Packets, visit SkinnyGirlDaily.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Keeping your child healthy at day care can prove tricky at times. With a group of children playing and eating together for several hours, your child is bound to come into contact with some bad bacteria that can make him or her sick.

According to the hygiene hypothesis, children who are exposed to a variety of bacterial and viral infections, or have older siblings, are more likely to have stronger immune systems as they build tolerance for certain types of bad bacteria.

Adding Probiotics to the Diet

To make sure your little one has optimal protection, try incorporating probiotics into his or her diet. Through various studies, we’ve learned certain strains of good bacteria are best for children’s immunity, such as:

• Bifidobacterium bifidum
• Bifidobacterium lactis
• Lactobacillus acidophilus
• Lactobacillus reuteri
• Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
• Saccharomyces boulardii (probiotic yeast)

If you’re looking to give your child probiotics, be sure to read the labels on any kids’ chewables or drink mixes to see if any of these good bacteria are listed in the ingredients.

Another great way to introduce probiotics into your child’s diet is through natural foods found primarily in certain fermented or dairy products. While supplements give you larger doses of probiotics in one dose, natural foods are still a great way to boost your child’s immune system. As you’ve probably heard, yogurt with live cultures is a good source of probiotics, and, even if your kid is a picky eater, you’ll probably have a good chance of getting him or her to eat it.

Several studies show that probiotics benefit children in day care centers in the following ways:

1. Infants fed a formula supplemented with L. reuteri or B. lactis had fewer and shorter episodes of diarrhea.
2. Lactobacillus GG may reduce respiratory infections and their severity in children in day care.
3. Children who consumed the drink DanActive experienced a reduction in the incidence of common ailments that included sinusitis, flu, diarrhea and ear infections.

Don’t Forget the Prebiotics

Prebiotics are also available in certain supplements and a variety of foods. Prebiotics, as opposed to probiotics, are fibers that help your body break down other foods and eliminate the waste. These include bananas, onions, asparagus, garlic, legumes, whole grains and seeds.

For a total listing of what to pack in your kid’s lunch box, check out “Probiotics For Dummies” (available now). Chapter 12 provides 20-plus probiotic and prebiotic recipes to use in your own kitchen.

Bacteria to Avoid

While bad bacteria still abounds no matter what the environment, there are at least a couple of them to truly avoid if you have a child in a day care center.

Escherichia Coli – Usually referred to as E. coli, this bacteria can be found in contaminated food or water. Young children, as well as older adults, are at a higher risk of complications due to E. coli, even life-threatening issues such as kidney failure.

Common sources of food contaminated with E. coli include: fresh produce (water used to irrigate crops can be contaminated), ground beef or raw milk.

Shigella – Most common in children ages two to four, this bacteria causes bloody stools and diarrhea and can be contracted through contaminated food or beverages, swimming in contaminated water or coming into direct contact with feces.

When changing diapers or helping toddlers with toilet training, it is crucial to practice good hand-washing techniques

Please Note: Always consult your physician before adding a supplement — including probiotics — to your or your child’s diet.

The final way to protect your child from bad bacteria is to protect yourself as well. Taking probiotics will help you reach optimal health and boost your immune system, decreasing your chances of spreading diseases to your little one. Dr. Challa recommends the gourmet probiotic Probulin. Use promo code “Challa” on your order to receive 25 percent off at http://www.probulin.com/.

About the Author

Dr. Shekhar Challa is a board certified Gastroenterologist, Co-producer of probiotic video game Microwarriors: The Battle Within, and author of the new book Probiotics for Dummies. www.drchalla.com.

*Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Fresh peaches, brie cheese, and endive are showcased beautifully in this delightful salad, courtesy of Pearson Farm!

Peach and Endive Salad with Brie Toasts

Ingredients

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. minced shallot
1/2 cup olive oil

6 French bread slices
2 cloves garlic, halved
6 oz. blue cheese (gorgonzola dolce is best)
6 oz. brie, rind removed

3 peaches, peeled and sliced
2 heads Belgian endive, sliced
1 bunch watercress
1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Preparation

Mix first 3 ingredients together in a small bowl. Whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Arrange bread on a cookie sheet and bake until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove bread from oven and rub with garlic. Cut cheeses into 6 thin slices. Place 1 slice of blue cheese on the right and one slice of brie on the left side of the toasts. Bake until cheese bubbles. Combine peaches, endive and watercress in a bowl. Stir vinaigrette and pour over salad and toss. Sprinkle with walnuts and serve with the cheese toasts.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Pearson Farm, a fifth-generation family-owned business dedicated to growing Georgia Peaches and Georgia Pecans.*

The Benefits of Greening Your Beauty Routine

There are literally thousands of things you can do to make your everyday beauty routine more environmentally friendly, but for many women, the problem is that there doesn’t appear to be any direct benefits to making major changes to their normal beauty routine.

If you fall into that category of women that hasn’t yet been convinced to make the switch to a more green lifestyle, it may be simply because you haven’t been shown just how much changing can be a good thing.

If you take the time to break down all of the benefits that come with greening your beauty routine, you may end up wondering why you haven’t already added at least a few environmentally-friendly changes into your daily schedule.

Although there are several other reasons to change that are equally important, the one aspect that will usually grab your attention is money.

You may think of being more green as buying organic products, which actually cost more than the alternative, but it’s much more than that. Instead of buying pre-made hair masks, why not make your own? A simple homemade mask will cost less than $1 in ingredients while a similar mask that comes in a package will easily be more than five times that amount.

Another idea if money is your motivational factor is to cut down on water use. If you’re spending twenty minutes in the shower, try cutting it down to fifteen. Over a year’s time, little changes like this really add up and come put a decent sum of money back in your pocket.

If you’re not willing to change for the sake of more money, than maybe your long term beauty has more importance to you. Looking for green and organic products or making them on your own has another big benefit. Many of the chemicals used in store-bought preparations are actually harmful, drying out your skin, damaging your hair, or even causing more serious problems with extended use.

In many cases, these products go for the quickest possible fix without thinking about the effects that may show up later down the road. In contrast, organic products made from only natural ingredients are looking at your beauty from a much longer perspective and are not looking to create just a quick fix.

Of course, if money and your long-term beauty are not enough to convince you to make the switch, your conscience may be. It’s no secret that natural resources are quickly depleting and now more than ever, each decision is more important to the environment. Taking a shorter shower or not supporting larger corporations that are not environmentally-friendly are just two of the ways that you can green your beauty routine and take an active role in the good fight. For many people, not doing the environmentally-friendly thing can weigh heavy on their shoulders and the guilt can be a big burden. By making the most of every decision and thinking about how it affects the environment, you can avoid this heavy feeling and make sure your conscience is as clean as your hair or face.

About the Contributor

Dailymakeover.com – Online source for beauty enthusiasts to try on beauty, virtually! Find expert fashion advice and beauty tips, as well the latest hairstyle trends and fashion news. A keeper for any beauty and fashion lover!

*Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Juicing fruits and vegetables is a great way to help waste less food. If you have a bunch of spinach that is on its last day, or apples that are just starting to get soft you can juice them instead of throwing them out. Don’t waste perfectly good fruits and veggies because they no longer look “perfect.” Throw them in a juicer and create delicious good-for-you beverages that the whole family will love.

Carrot Apple Juice

Ingredients

5 medium sized carrots

2 medium apples

Preparation

Press through a juicer, stir to mix the flavors, serve, and enjoy!

Don’t toss that “leftover” carrot and apple pulp; bake some yummy muffins instead!

Carrot Apple Muffins

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

**5 medium shredded carrots

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup raisins

3 large eggs

1 cup vegetable or canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

**2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and shredded

**For “shredded” ingredients, use the pulp from the juicer!

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F and oil eighteen 1/2-cup muffin cups (or you can use paper muffin liners).

Into a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and whisk in sugar. Coarsely chop the pecans. Add carrots pulp and pecans to flour mixture with raisins and toss well.

In a bowl whisk together eggs, oil, and vanilla. Stir apple pulp into egg mixture and add to flour mixture, stirring until batter is just combined well. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling them three fourths full, and bake in middle of oven until puffed and a tester comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes.

Cool muffins in cups on racks 5 minutes before turning out onto racks to cool completely. Muffins keep in an airtight container at room temperature 5 days.

*Recipes and images courtesy of Omega Juicers.*

One little waterless, non-toxic cleaning towel really CAN do it all! New to one of “Mom’s” favorites brands, ECOS Earth Friendly Products, is the Orange Plus Gentle Cleaning Towels! Safe for use on skin as well as around the home, these convenient towels will clean everything from kitchen and bathroom countertops to children’s dirty hands when on-the-go! The towels smell absolutely fantastic due to the orange oil, which is also an effective cleanser, as well as aloe vera, wheat germ and vitamin E so that your hands stay soft after use.

The cleaning towels come in a small, recyclable container that packs easily or can be kept in the car for use while out and about with the family. Plus, the towels can even be recycled in facilities that can separate HDPE #2 from paper.

Why choose Orange Plus Gentle Cleaning Towels?

•pH 6.0-7.0 (neutral pH), gentle on hands
•Pre-moistened, gentle cleaning towels
•70 small (5” x 8”) towels
•Gentle on even baby’s skin, but still tough on dirt
•Non-polluting/100% biodegradable/non-toxic/natural.
•Made of replenishable/sustainable ingredients
•Plant-based surfactants we use do not harm the item being cleaned, your body or the environment
•Will not etch, scratch, stain or harm most hard surfaces.
•Contains natural orange oil, rosemary, soap bark and chamomile for a refreshing scent
•Contains vitamin E, jojoba oil, wheat germ extract and aloe vera to smooth hands
•DEA free, free of phosphorus/phosphates, mineral acids, HCl, harsh chemicals and solvents, enzymes, chlorine and petroleum ingredients.
•Contains ethanol, derived from corn
•Easy to use, recyclable HDPE #2 container and lid
•Towels may be recycled in facilities which can separate HDPE #2 from paper.

Mom” is a huge fan of ECOS Earth Friendly Products, and these new towels are simply brilliant! To learn more about their entire line of environmentally-friendly household products, please visit ecos.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Plant Your Own Butterfly Garden

What could be more evocative of summer than to see your garden filled with brightly-colored butterflies fluttering from flower to flower – beautiful to watch, but perhaps even more beautiful to see close up. Their fascinating life-cycle will prove irresistible to kids, too! But with their habitats under threat and numbers falling, what is the best way to attract them to feed and breed in your garden?

Habitat

As is so often the case, creating the right habitat is key. While doing any of the steps set out here will help, if you are really serious about creating a healthy population of your favorite butterflies, it’s best to think about the whole life-cycle, from egg through to the mature butterfly.

Butterflies have evolved over millions of years to fit into the wild landscape, so it’s that wild landscape that we need to try and mimic – because many of the things we do and the plants we grow in our modern gardens might look pretty to us, but really are not enjoyed by the butterflies!

Look after the Caterpillars

When looking for a place to lay their eggs, butterflies will look for plants that will give their caterpillars the food and shelter they need. There are several well-known favorites: holly, ivy, stinging nettles, buckthorn and thistles for example. Leave a patch of your garden a bit wild.

Vegetable growers will not look forward to their cabbages and kale being devoured by caterpillars though – and it can be a problem. The last thing you should do of course is spray with insecticide. Instead, try moving any caterpillars you find onto less valuable plants by hand, while planting nasturtiums in amongst your crops can help as well, as these are well liked by the insects.

Feed the Adults

Butterflies feed on nectar of course, so you need to choose nectar-rich plants that have flowers throughout the season, not just at the height of summer.

Some early flowerers include: bluebells, dandelion, honesty, primrose, sweet william, wallflowers and violas.
Buddleia, hebe, lilac, lavender, valerian, forget-me-not and honeysuckle, thyme and ivy will flower later on in the summer and autumn.

If you have space for a patch of native wild flower meadow, they would love it – pretty too!

Plant your flowers in the sunniest spot you can find, and wait. They will find you!

About the Author

Stephen Bailey is an experienced gardener and garden designer who writes and blogs extensively on the subject. His website Tern Gardening Reviews has all sorts of information on gardening tips, tools, equipment.

*Image: wiangya / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

All-natural Sparkling ICE can be used to make delicious popsicles for the whole family. Just make them ahead of time, pop them in a cooler and bring them along to the beach, park or playdate! These pops can be made with your favorite Sparkling ICE flavor and fresh fruit. This tasty recipe features Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE and fresh raspberries.

Sparkling ICE Pops

Ingredients

Ice Cube Tray (or your favorite ice pop making molds)

Toothpicks or popsicle sticks

I bottle Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE

1 container of fresh raspberries, chopped

Preparation

Fill trays or molds with Sparkling ICE, topping each with a scoop of chopped raspberries. If using ice cube trays cover the tray tightly with tin foil. Poke a popsicle stick through the foil into each cube. If using an ice pop maker place the handle sticks into the molds. Place in the freezer for about 2 hours or until frozen. Enjoy!

*Recipe and image courtesy of Sparkling ICE.*