The holidays are a time to share food and cheer with loved ones. But common misconceptions about food safety, Food Bank Nutrition Educator Corey DeLeon warns, can lead to sharing something much less cheerful.
“When cooking for others, the last thing we want to happen is for someone to fall ill due a food we made,” Corey says.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from contaminated food each year. Thousands are hospitalized and even die from foodborne illness.
For the families we serve, a food-related sickness means more than a missed day of work or school. More than 20 percent of households we serve have at least one member in poor health, and more than 30 percent of our clients are without health insurance. A day off from work can mean having to choose between buying groceries and paying for medicine and doctor’s visits.
That’s why our CHOICES nutrition classes empower clients to not only eat healthy, but to eat safe as well. In our four-week Cooking for Your Life series, participants learn about the four simple steps to prevent food poisoning: clean, separate, cook and chill.
These principles seem simple enough, but Corey says there’s more to food safety than meets the eye.
"I always ask class participants how they can tell if the meats they cooked are done," Corey says. "The most common answer I get is based on what the meat looks or feels like."
In fact, Corey says, the best way to tell if meat is thoroughly cooked is by checking its internal temperature with a meat thermometer.
Of course, not everyone has a meat thermometer, so the Food Bank provides class participants with free tools such as thermometers, cutting boards and kitchen utensils to take home.
For more information or to schedule a class, contact Bilingual Nutritionist Vivian Noriega at 512-684-2538 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a safe and healthy holiday, and don’t miss this low-fat wild rice stuffing recipe from the Food Bank nutrition team.
Wild Rice Stuffing
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
- 1 cup uncooked wild rice
- 1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1½ cup chopped celery
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
- 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped dried apricots (may substitute whole pears or apples)
- ½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Coat a pot with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion, wild rice and garlic and sauté for three minutes.
- Stir in chicken broth and sage and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes.
- Stir in brown rice and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Stir in cranberries, apricots, pecans, salt and pepper.
Serving Size: ½ cup
Total Fat 4.5g