Choosing from the Protein Foods Group

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.

image of foods from protein foods group

 Go Lean with Your Protein Foods Group Choices:

    • 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 Foods Group 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 Your Choices from Protein Foods Group:

    • 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.

Source: USDA, ChooseMyPlate.gov

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What Parents Need to Know About Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs: A Look at the Pros and Cons

For 35 years of my career, I worked with children with special needs. So, when Jackie Nunes wrote me and asked if I would accept an article about homeschooling a child with special needs I readily accepted. Jackie is a former pediatric nurse and now a full-time home school educator. She is one of the founding members of wondermoms.org  

photo of Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs

What Parents Need to Know About Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs: A Look at the Pros and Cons

The single best thing about homeschooling my child with special needs has been the high fives. When you have a child with disabilities, you have to throw the typical milestone timetables out the window. Very few skills – walking, talking, potty training, learning letters – come on schedule. Things that are easy for most children take much more perseverance and hard work for our kids.  However, few feelings can match the surge of pride when they finally master a new skill. In our house, we celebrate every victory, large or small, with a round of high fives.

Homeschooling wasn’t an easy decision for my family. It was a financial sacrifice. Then there were all the worries about whether I had the knowledge, resources, and temperament to do it well. There were a lot of pros and cons to consider. At the end of the day, we knew it was the right decision for us.

If you’re thinking about taking the homeschooling plunge, it’s important to weigh both the benefits and disadvantages. Here are some of the things we learned along the way.

Advantages of Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs  

The benefits of homeschooling are about flexibility, and being able to teach in a way that’s best for your child.

  • Learn at your child’s speed: With homeschooling, you set the pace. You can go as quickly or as slowly as your child needs. If your child has strengths in a particular area, you can move through it faster. At the same time, if your child has trouble with something, take your time and try different ways to make it click. If your child is obsessed with trains or dinosaurs, try connecting it to that. If music or movement helps, go for it.
  • You control the learning environment: Kids with special needs are often either sensory seekers or sensory avoiders. When setting up your home school environment, you can tailor it to your child’s needs and preferences. Make your classroom soothing and quiet, or incorporate bright colors, an indoor swing, and a miniature trampoline. Create a space that works for both of you.
  • Social interaction is monitored: While it takes a bit more effort to schedule get-togethers, parents who home school can keep a much closer eye on their child’s social experiences. Homeschooling reduces the risk of your child getting bullied.
  • Learn around a schedule: Homeschooling may also be beneficial if your child has many different doctor or therapy appointments on their schedule. Parents who home school are able to fit lessons in between appointments or move schooling to another part of the day. If your child is having a hard time with something, you can take breaks to prevent frustration.
  • School is less overwhelming: Children who are home schooled don’t have to deal with the everyday stresses of traditional school. They can focus much more on their learning. Public schools bring a plethora of sounds, sights, and smells. Pair those with having to deal with throngs of fellow students and anyone would start to get stressed. Being able to better control your child’s learning environment helps your child learn without distractions.
  • Kids learn constantly: With all of their quirks and differences, kids with special needs can be especially tricky to “figure out.” Teachers are heroes, but they are often overworked and underpaid with a room full of kids to educate. A teacher may not have time to find just the right way to introduce a concept so he understands. This is one area where parents have a huge advantage. Parents know how their children learn best. They often find “teachable moments” outside of the regular school day to connect schoolwork to life.

Disadvantages of Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs

You  will find that in addition to the advantages of homeschooling a child with special needs, there are some drawbacks. Here are some to consider:

  • Not enough structure: The biggest advantage of homeschooling can also be one of the biggest drawbacks: flexibility. Many kids thrive on routines, and that can be especially true for children with special needs. It’s hard to recreate the rhythms of a traditional school routine when you teach at home. Some kids find it hard to distinguish between learning time and play time. To provide some structure to your days, write a loose schedule and keep it hung up where your child can see it. It’s also a good idea to dedicate one room in your home to school only. Once your child is in that room, no matter the time of day, she knows that it’s time to learn.
  • No nurse: Being home schooled means your child won’t have a nurse to go to if they get hurt or aren’t feeling well. Because of this, many parents, who home school, elect to learn basic first aid skills. They become CPR certified before starting to teach their kids at home.
  • Less socialization: Children who are home schooled often don’t socialize with kids their age as much as they would in a traditional schooling environment. To combat this, parents often network with the homeschooling community in their city to meet other homeschoolers and their kids.
  • Finding outside professionals: Public school districts usually employ various counselors and therapists to see children who have diagnosed learning difficulties. Depending on where you live, your child may loose access to these professionals if you withdraw from the school system. Parents need to research what their rights ar,e and other ways to get assistance for their child.
  • Access to art and sports facilities: Public schools usually have accessible facilities including gymnasiums, art rooms, music rooms, science labs, auditoriums, media centers, and sports fields. Those are hard to replicate at home. However, you can sign your child up for after-school activities. He can join a youth sports league, or participate in Special Olympics program. You can keep a well-stocked craft cupboard at home.

Is Homeschooling Right for Your Child?

homeschooling your special needs child

As with anything, homeschooling has both benefits and drawbacks. When you have all the information about the pros and cons, you will be able to make the best decision for your family.

Before homeschooling, the hours my daughter spent in school were largely a mystery. Besides the odd note from the teacher, I had almost no insight into how she spent her days. I worried about everything. How much attention was she getting?  Was she was eating her lunch? Was anyone bullying her?

Homeschooling isn’t easy and it may not be right for everyone. But I don’t wonder about my daughter’s days anymore. Now I know. And it’s pretty awesome.

 

 

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A Backyard Swings and Playsets Guide by ConsumerAffairs

As parents and grandparents, we want to make sure that all the play equipment our little ones use is safe and sturdy. When I received an email from Marissa Boles, ConsumerAffairs.com about their Back Yard Swings and Playsets Guide, I invited her to share it. 

 

Backyard Swings and Playsets

“Backyard swings and playsets are popular with families with children, daycare centers, churches and neighborhood associations as a great way for kids to be physically active while using their imaginations. They are made from multiple materials, come in various sizes and can be customized with a variety of accessories.

Quality backyard swing and playsets can cost a lot of money depending on the size, material and features that can be added to each one. With so many options it is a good idea to compare these features before making a purchase.”

The ConsumerAffairs Backyard Swings and Playsets guide includes tips and advice consumers should take into considering when choosing a backyard swing or playset. Our guide includes information on the most important features of backyard playsets. We highlight the customizable additions such as slides, swings, clubhouses, bridges, and rope or rock walls that consumers can choose from to make their playset unique.

Our guide contrasts the types of materials playsets can be made of such as wood, metal, and vinyl as well as the price differences associated with each. It also contrasts different types of playset structures such as A-frame, adjustable base, angled-base, and multi-deck playsets and the benefits associated with each structure. The location, terrain, and age of children who will be using the playset will determine which structure is best.

Lastly, the guide compares some of the top national brands and includes expert and verified consumer reviews for parents. It helps them to find the perfect playset to meet their family’s needs!

ConsumerAffairs believes everyone deserves to make smart buying decisions.  We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today’s consumer products and services.

Please review the guide which will help you to feel confident about purchasing  Backyard Swings and Playsets. The guide is a quick read. It touches on all that you want and need to know before buying backyard equipment that your children can enjoy for years. Please visit www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/backyard-playsets/

Marissa Boles, promoter of Backyard Swings and Playsets Guide

Marissa Boles, Content Marketing Specialist
https://www.consumeraffairs.com/(918) 553-5594

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A Low Carbohydrate-High Protein Diet: Is it Safe?

It seems that we are always being bombarded with news about the ever-expanding American waistline. There is often a new diet rage to follow. While others go to extremes, many of us, in an effort to lose weight quickly, embrace a low carbohydrate-high protein diet.

Low carbohydrate-high protein diet

The low carb-high protein diet has become popular because of the short-term effects on weight control, but concerns have been raised about the potential cardiovascular effects over the long term. Studies exploring the issue have given mixed results, but three European studies showed a greater risk of cardiovascular mortality with such a diet.

Findings about a Low Carbohydrate-High Protein Diet

If you are on one, or thinking about going on one, please consider the findings of a study that followed young Swedish women over 15+years that was reported online in BMJ (an open-access peer-reviewed medical journal).

  • Consuming a low carbohydrate-high protein diet, like the Atkins diet, may be associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease in women.
  • A low carbohydrate diet implies low consumption of whole-grain foods, fruits, and starchy vegetables. and consequently reduced intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A high protein diet may indicate higher intake of red and processed meat and thus higher intake of iron, cholesterol, and saturated fat. These single factors have previously been linked to a higher risk of major chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease.
  • A healthy diet plan for you needs to be a diet that considers your current health and medical conditions. The place to begin is with a visit to your physician, a physical, and a discussion about an eating plan and exercise tailored to your needs and health.
  • When it comes to loosing weight and keeping it off. there are really no quick fixes.  Denying your body the nutrients it needs. over long periods of time will only damage your health.

 

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Keeping Foodborne Illness Out of the Lunchbox

You can reduce the chance of what the USDA calls a serious public health threat…foodborne illness in the lunchbox. 

lunchboxHere are six top tips for keeping foods safe in a lunchbox.

  1. If you’re packing meats, eggs, yogurt or other perishable food, use at least two freezer packs. Harmful bacteria grow rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Juice boxes can provide another option: freeze some juice boxes overnight to use with at least one freezer pack. The frozen juice boxes will thaw by lunchtime.
  3. If there’s a refrigerator at school or work, find a space for your lunch. Remove the lid or open the bag so the cold air can circulate better.
  4. Use an insulated, soft-sided lunchbox or bag instead of a paper bag. Perishable food can spoil more quickly in a paper bag.
  5. For a hot lunch like soup, use an insulated container. Make sure the container remains tightly closed until lunchtime.
  6. And finally, throw out all leftover food, used packaging and paper bags.

Medline Plus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, reminds us that not all illness comes from the food. It can come from a lunchbox that is not properly cleaned, or from the area where the lunch was prepared.

Please remember that:

  • A dirty lunchbox may contain bacteria that can make a youngster  sick.
  • A lunchbox picks up a lot of grime in a day.
  • Kids don’t always wash their hands before handling their lunchboxes and food.
  • It’s a good idea to put a small bottle of antibacterial gel with a tight-fitting lid in your child’s lunchbox. Your child can use the gel when there isn’t a chance to wash with soap and water before eating lunch.
  • Kids should avoid setting down their food on the table. Include a paper towel, a piece of wax paper, or even a small fabric place mat in your child’s lunchbox that can be washed at home to help keep food off surfaces that may have been used by a number of youth and adults.

When packing a lunchbox:

  • Start with clean hands, a clean work surface and a clean lunchbox.
  • Disinfect kitchen surfaces, such as kitchen equipment and refrigerator handles, regularly.
  • Also clean cutting boards, knives, dish-drying towels and sponges or dish cloths daily.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before packing them.

 

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