This blog is a place where parents and teachers of children 3-7 years of age can find information about topics specific to children in this age group, share ideas and access free resources for home and the classroom.

After School Food Safety

foodThe kitchen, for food, is often the first place children go when they get home from school, but it’s not always the safest place. Millions of children become ill from the food they eat.

Here are some food safety recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to share with children to help keep them safe after school. When coming home after school, kids can help prevent illnesses by following these recommendations:

  1. Place books, bags, and sporting equipment on the floor, not on eating counters or the kitchen table where germs could be transferred.
  2. Clean out lunch boxes and throw away perishable sandwiches or other “refrigerator type” foods, such as yogurt tubes or cheese sticks, left over from lunch.
  3. Wash your hands before you make or eat a snack. Hands carry lots of germs, and not washing hands is a top cause of foodborne illness.
  4. Always use clean spoons, forks, and plates.
  5. Wash fruits and vegetables with running tap water before you eat them.
  6. Do not eat bread, cheese, or soft fruits or vegetables that are bruised or have spots of mold.
  7. Do not eat unbaked cookie dough because it may contain raw eggs that can have Salmonella bacteria.
  8. Do not leave cold items, like milk, lunchmeat, hard cooked eggs, or yogurt, out on the counter at room temperature. Put these foods back in the refrigerator as soon as you’ve fixed your snack.
  9. Don’t eat any perishable food left out of the refrigerator, such as pizza — even if it isn’t topped with meat. Food should not be left in the temperature “Danger Zone” of 40 to 140 °F for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is 90 °F or higher).

Heating or cooking foods in microwave ovens can present food safety and personal safety challenges. Some foods do not heat evenly to destroy all bacteria that could be present. Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Read package directions carefully. An adult needs to tell children whether to use the minimum or maximum cooking time on food package directions.
  2. Use only microwave-safe cookware. Don’t put metal or foil-wrapped foods in the microwave. Never microwave food in cold storage containers, such as margarine tubs, cottage cheese cartons, or bowls from frozen whipped topping. The containers can melt and transfer harmful chemicals into the food.
  3. For more even cooking and to better destroy bacteria, cover a dish of food with a lid, plastic wrap, or wax paper. Turn up one corner to let excess steam escape while food is microwaving.
  4. Halfway through cooking, rotate food packages and dishes or stir food during microwaving — even if the oven has a turntable. This helps the food cook more evenly and safely.

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Grapefruit Juice and Your Medications May Not Mix

grapefruit 

The Food and Drug Administration wants you to know that grapefruit juice may be a problem with some medications.


  •  Ask your pharmacist or other health care professional if you can have fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice while using your medication. If you can’t, you may want to ask if you can have other juices with the medicine.
  • Read the Medication Guide or patient information sheet that comes with your prescription medicine to find out if it could interact with grapefruit juice. Some may advise not to take the drug with grapefruit juice. If it’s OK to have grapefruit juice, there will be no mention of it in the guide or information sheet.
  • Read the Drug Facts label on your non-prescription medicine, which will let you know if you shouldn’t have grapefruit or other fruit juices with it.

  • If you must avoid grapefruit juice with your medicine, check the label of bottles of fruit juice or drinks flavored with fruit juice to make sure they don’t contain grapefruit juice.
  • Seville oranges (often used to make orange marmalade) and tangelos (a cross between tangerines and grapefruit) affect the same enzyme as grapefruit juice, so avoid these fruits as well if your medicine interacts with grapefruit juice.

 

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Choosing from the Protein Foods Group

protein

The United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) issued the following information sheet as an aid for shopping and preparing foods from the Protein Foods Group.

Go Lean with Protein:

    • Start with a lean protein choice:
      • The leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts (eye of round, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts.
      • The leanest pork choices include pork loin, tenderloin, center loin, and ham.
      • Choose extra lean ground beef. The label should say at least “90% lean.” You may be able to find ground beef that is 93% or 95% lean.
      • Buy skinless chicken parts, or take off the skin before cooking.
      • Boneless skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets are the leanest poultry choices.
      • Choose lean turkey, roast beef, ham, or low-fat luncheon meats for sandwiches instead of luncheon/deli meats with more fat, such as regular bologna or salami.
    • Keep your protein lean:
      • Trim away all of the visible fat from meats and poultry before cooking.
      • Broil, grill, roast, poach, or boil meat, poultry, or fish instead of frying.
      • Drain off any fat that appears during cooking.
      • Skip or limit the breading on meat, poultry, or fish. Breading adds calories. It will also cause the food to soak up more fat during frying.
      • Prepare beans and peas without added fats.
      • Choose and prepare foods without high fat sauces or gravies.

Vary Your Protein Choices:

    • Choose seafood at least twice a week as the main protein food. Look for seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, and herring. Some ideas are:
      • Salmon steak or filet
      • Salmon loaf
      • Grilled or baked trout
    • Choose beans, peas, or soy products as a main dish or part of a protein fortified meal often. Some choices are:
      • Chili with kidney or pinto beans
      • Stir- fried tofu
      • Split pea, lentil, minestrone, or white bean soups
      • Baked beans
      • Black bean enchiladas
      • Garbanzo or kidney beans on a chef’s salad
      • Rice and beans
      • Veggie burgers
      • Hummus (chickpeas) spread on pita bread
    • Choose unsalted nuts as a snack, on salads, or in main dishes as your protein. Use nuts to replace meat or poultry, not in addition to these items:
      • Use pine nuts in pesto sauce for pasta.
      • Add slivered almonds to steamed vegetables.
      • Add toasted peanuts or cashews to a vegetable stir fry instead of meat.
      • Sprinkle a few nuts on top of low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt.
      • Add walnuts or pecans to a green salad instead of cheese or meat.

What to Look for on the Food Label:

    • Check the Nutrition Facts label for the saturated fat, Trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium content of packaged foods.
      • Processed meats such as hams, sausages, frankfurters, and luncheon or deli meats have added sodium. Check the ingredient and Nutrition Facts label to help limit sodium intake.
      • Fresh chicken, turkey, and pork that have been enhanced with a salt-containing solution also have added sodium. Check the product label for statements such as “self-basting” or “contains up to __% of __.”
      • Lower fat versions of many processed meats are available. Look on the Nutrition Facts label to choose products with less fat and saturated fat.

Keep It Safe to Eat:

    • Separate raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
    • Do not wash or rinse meat or poultry.
    • Wash cutting boards, knives, utensils and counter tops in hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to the next one.
    • Store raw meat, poultry and seafood on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices don’t drip onto other foods.
    • Cook foods to a safe temperature to kill microorganisms. Use a meat thermometer, which measures the internal temperature of cooked meat and poultry, to make sure that the meat is cooked all the way through.
    • Chill (refrigerate) perishable food promptly and defrost foods properly. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within two hours.
    • Plan ahead to defrost foods. Never defrost food on the kitchen counter at room temperature. Thaw food by placing it in the refrigerator, submerging air-tight packaged food in cold tap water (change water every 30 minutes), or defrosting on a plate in the microwave.
    • Avoid raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs and raw or undercooked meat and poultry.
    • Women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children should avoid some types of fish as their protein. Click here or call SAFEFOOD for more information on the best fish to eat.

Source: USDA, ChooseMyPlate.gov

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Writing with Wendy , a “Can Do” Feature

writingWriting with Wendy is an early childhood writing skills development resource.

Writing with Wendy offers parents and other family members, as well as teachers, suggestions and exercises for helping children 3-7 years develop pre-writing and writing skills that will make writing a comfortable activity, to be enjoyed, not avoided. Writing with Wendy is all about engaging children in writing activities and creating a foundation that children can build on when the need to write for school and for personal use.

Writing with Wendy is built on the premise that writing begins with storytelling. If you can tell a story, you can write a story. Since parents are the first story tellers, mostly through reading to their children, they have much to share with their children about storytelling and eventually writing .

The suggestions offered in Writing with Wendy give parents and other caregivers simple activities to do with their child(ren) that stimulate  storytelling skills. The activities focus on developing a child’s observational and descriptive skills both of which are important to good storytelling and writing.  Most of the activities give children opportunities for recognition and make them comfortable with sharing their storytelling and writing with others.

While there is a message for parents and teachers about the site and how to use it, there is also a message from Wendy for children visiting the site with their parents. Wendy is the “Can Do” Kid who likes to write. To her writing is fun. In her message she talks to the children visiting the site about writing and why it is important.

The site is divided into four sections:  Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade. Each section includes suggestions for helping children develop storytelling skills and using  those skills for writing  stories. There are 3 activities in each section to jump start the process. Each week a new activity will be added to each section.

The 1st and 2nd grade sections also include an overview of what writing skills children will be expected to develop and use successfully in these early grades.

As Wendy puts it, “Just think of writing as storytelling on a page. Then writing will be interesting and fun!

To Access Writing with Wendy go to http://candostreet.com/writing_with_wendy/

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More Families are Choosing Family Practitioners

family physicianMore and more families are choosing to have a family practitioner as their family health care provider.

Who are family practitioners? They are doctors who, following medical school, complete a three-year residency where they are trained to care for  patient populations that range from infants to the elderly in a variety of different medical areas. For instance, family practitioners are trained in bone and joint care; ear, nose and throat care; chronic conditions; emergency care and minor surgeries; behavioral and mental health; and eye care.

One of the primary responsibilities of family practitioners is to maintain their patients’ overall health. They often see their patients over the course of many years, unlike emergency doctors or surgeons who treat individuals for short periods of time. Because of this, general practitioners can build a lasting relationship with their patients and have a better understanding of their medical needs.

According to familydoctor.org, primary care physicians lower health care costs and death rates among their patients who regularly see them for preventive care and illnesses. Family practitioners, for example, can provide their patients with personal treatment plans and determine disease risk factors according to their medical histories. Also, for many individuals, family doctors are the first point of contact when they are ill. So family doctors can assess and treat most illness like respiratory infections, accidents like broken bones or diseases like asthma.

Family practitioners’ work environment can vary according to their geographic location and the size of the office. For example, family practice doctors can work in small and large cities or practice in rural areas. If they practice in the latter location, they might be the only family practitioner to treat all of the residents in a particular area. Also, family doctors can own their own practices, work at a large practice, in clinics or for government agencies.

Although family practitioners are trained to treat a broad range of medical problems, there are situations and conditions that they will not be able to treat. In these instances, it is the responsibility of the family practitioner to refer the patient to a specialist who can address the specific problem or condition.

 

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