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Home Questions? – Call AnswerLine

When I was a student at Iowa State University, I worked in a job where I shared an office with an amazing resource. That resource was AnswerLine – a hotline that answers your questions about home, food, and family. As a young adult starting a home of her own, the AnswerLine folks gave me tips on food safety, food preservation, and cleaning. A few years later, I found myself working at Iowa State University again. Throughout my career, AnswerLine has been there to help me when I have tough questions about food and nutrition. As a mom, I rely on AnswerLine for tips on getting stains out of laundry. If you cannot tell already, I love AnswerLine and I want to share this resource with you today!

Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

Spend Smart with SafeFood©

We all know there is a cost to buying food, but that cost can be magnified if the safety of products is not considered. Products past their expiration dates or damaged items may have deep discounts. For some types of foods that can mean good savings. But, for other types, over aged or damaged foods could put you at risk for a foodborne illness—and that will cost you, not just in physical pain but also lost work time and reduced productivity. So, think about what foods on sale are a good deal in the long run—to your health.

Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

How to tell when food has gone bad

One way to save money is to not throw food in the garbage. Adjusted to our 2008 economy, an average family of four tosses out $1,039 annually, regardless of income, ethnicity, education, and other socio-economic factors.

Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

Heating it up…Summer Barbecues

When barbecuing, you need to follow food safety rules and also cook meat to a temperature that will kill bacteria, if you want to avoid getting sick.  Here are some rules I keep in mind:

Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

Tailgating … as American as Apple Pie

Tailgating is as American as apple pie, but unless you want some time on the sidelines, take care when planning a party in a parking lot. Last year I cringed a few times as I observed food sitting out 3-4 hours before a football game started and then the same food was brought out again after the game for snacking!

Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

October is National Pork Month

The past couple of weeks when looking thru grocery ads, I’ve noticed some good deals on pork. This is likely related to this summer’s drought. With high feed costs, many farmers are selling their pigs so they don’t have to purchase so much feed. This means there is a lot of supply. However, in an ad this week, I noticed it said ‘Celebrate National Pork Month’. Therefore, many grocery stores are also likely putting pork on sale to highlight National Pork Month.

checking-labels1

Is it Still Good? Tossing Food that has Expired

On New Year’s Eve my husband and I invited some friends over to celebrate. My husband requested that I make chili and white chicken chili for the gathering and offered to help me in the kitchen! We made some other appetizers too, so needed some space in the refrigerator to store all the food. While trying to make space in the refrigerator, my husband started looking at the dates on various bottles and containers, such as a partially eaten bottle of barbeque sauce, and tossed out the old ones. Soon I started looking at dates on the spices I was using. I wasn’t concerned about the spices going bad but that over time their flavor would deteriorate. I decided it was time I get rid of some of the old ones (like the ground ginger I’m sure I moved with us to our current house almost four years ago!) and purchase new ones.

washing-lettuce

5 Steps for Safe Produce

Iowa and 15 other states have had an outbreak of cyclospora the past month. In Iowa and Nebraska the cases were linked to restaurant salads.

chef mincing bell peppers with knife

Knives 101

A sharp kitchen knife is a good investment. Good knives make cooking easier and most importantly, sharp knives are safer than dull ones. A sharp knife is going to do what you expect it to do. It will slide smoothly through foods and not slip or get caught. When knives slip, that’s when cuts tend to happen.

cooked salmon

What is the Story with Mercury in Fish?

You may have heard on the news that we should be concerned about mercury in fish.  Nearly all fish contain traces of mercury. Mercury is found naturally in aquatic environments. It is absorbed by fish and can accumulate in their bodies, especially in larger fish and fish that live longer. Too much mercury can be harmful for humans, especially for an unborn baby or a growing, developing child. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children avoid certain types of fish high in mercury and limit weekly seafood consumption to less than 12 ounces. Most Americans consume well below this guideline.

piece of salmon

Enjoying Seafood in a Land-locked State

I have an uncle who worked for years as a sea captain. He is retired now, but has many stories of his time traveling the world on a tanker ship. He often says you should not eat certain seafood unless you are within ‘spitting distance’ of the ocean. Please pardon the picture that might put in your head!

Slow cooker vegetarian chili

Keeping Food Safe in a Slow Cooker

We often get request for recipes that can be made in a slow cooker. It’s not surprising since you can add the ingredients to the slow cooker, turn it on, and then go about your day while the food cooks. No need to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when you have other things you need to do! Here are some tips to keep food safe when using a slow cooker.