Four Ways to Keep Your Food Safe

There is an old English saying “Food cooked with passion and served with love tastes divine.” Trust me, it is true even today! Every food enthusiast (like you and me) is well aware that the soul of any good recipe resides in the right blend of spices and fresh natural ingredients. But we might sometimes miss upon an even more important ingredient while cooking food, and which more often than not tampers with the soul of our recipe. Yes, I am talking about food safety & hygiene. One has to be very careful while handling food and maintain the highest level of hygiene and food safety in our kitchen and home.

Food contamination can occur at any stage, be it harvesting, processing, preparation, storage or transportation. Foodborne diseases are often common where low standards of hygiene are used. According to data released by World Health Organization, every year foodborne disease causes almost one in ten people to fall ill. These diseases can be deadly especially in children.

There are a few basic rules to be followed while handling food:

Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.
Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.
Cook: Cook to the right temperature.
Chill: Refrigerate promptly.

Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.

One must wash one’s hands thoroughly with soap before coming in contact with food. This eliminates transfer of germs from your hands to the food. One must wash all vegetables and fruits with cold water before using them. Kitchen counters and surfaces are the key places which if dirty can contaminate food. These places must be sanitized thoroughly along with equipment used for preparing food.

In case you are sick or down with cold and flu you must avoid cooking and handling food. When someone has the symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting or jaundice, they should stay away from the workplace. And if they have a sore throat and fever, they should be restricted from preparing and serving food.This is alarming because these people potentially could have spread disease to the people who consume the foods their establishments were serving. Martin Bucknavage, extension food-safety specialist says,”Foodborne pathogens such as Norovirus, Hepatitis A and Shigella often are spread by sick workers to restaurant patrons through the food.” These recommendations are not just for foodservice or retail food establishments but also for people who cook for their families and those who work in child care or elder-care facilities. The use of hand sanitizers and tissue paper should be encouraged in all age groups.

Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.

To avoid cross contamination keep raw and cooked foods separate when storing and preparing. Food should be stored in covered containers in the fridge and put raw meats and poultry in the bottom of the fridge so the juices don’t contaminate food on lower shelves. Don’t put cooked meat back on the plate the raw meat was on.

Cook: Cook to the right temperature.

If you eat poultry, seafood and meat you must be careful while cooking them. They should be cooked thoroughly at right temperatures before eating. In order to confirm, insert a skewer in the center of the meat and check that there is no pink meat. The juices must run clear. Those are the signs of well cooked meat. In case raw meat is consumed it can lead to food poisoning.

In the past few years microwaves are being used in our kitchens to cook and reheat food. You can cover your food with food wrapping paper of a good quality, which prevents the food from drying out on reheating. Make sure the reheated food is piping hot and the steam is coming out of it. This means you have eliminated the risk of bacteria and other pathogens.

Chill: Refrigerate promptly.

If you are to store your raw food in fridge, wrap it with a food wrapping paper which can absorb the moisture and prevents the dripping of juices and keep it at a temperature lower than 5 degree Celsius. You can help keep your family safe from food poisoning at home. Cold temperatures slow the growth of illness causing bacteria. So it’s important to chill food promptly and properly. Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours.
Healthy and hygienic food habits can avert a lot of foodborne diseases. These habits should be inculcated in your daily lifestyle and should be taught to kids as well. It’s the small steps which go a long way and make a big difference in your holistic well being.

How to Win a Food Fight Battle With an Autistic Child

How to Win a Food Fight Battle in Ten Steps

For the first time in the history, overweight and obesity are increasingly prevalent in the general pediatric population. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, evidence suggests that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) may be at even higher elevated risk for unhealthy weight gain, with differences present as early as ages 2 to 5 years. To make matters worse, these results clearly indicated that the prevalence of unhealthy weight is significantly greater among children with ASD compared with the general population.

A study published in 2008, by The U.S Library of Medicine’s National Institution on Health, listed childhood obesity as a culprit – affecting nearly one-third of the U.S. children, and the prevalence of these conditions has increased at least four-fold since the 1970s.

Obesity in ASD may be particularly problematic for a variety of reasons. First, core symptoms of ASD may be naturally related to weight problems: for instance, children with ASD may lack social motivation to participate in family meals or in structured physical activities with other children and those parents may be more likely to use food as a reward in children with ASD due to lack of social motivation. The severity or type of a child’s symptoms may also affect his or her ability to participate in physical activities that might mitigate weight gain. Still, little is known about the prevalence that correlates to overweight youth and among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Today, it is still unclear whether risk factors for obesity in ASD are the same or different from risk factors for children generally.

Living in a world of processed and high caloric food choices – today, more than ever, it is important that we all start to pay closer attention to what our children are eating and when. Easier said than done. Right?

Good nutrition and children with autism rarely go hand in hand easily. Often, parents who are responsible for mealtimes within a ASD family – concentrate what the neuro-normality world does not. ASD Parents live with higher demonstrations of restricted eating, and repetitive behavior patterns with food. ASD parents are also faced with a higher intake of low-nutrition, energy-dense foods. Parents usually give in, and pick their battles elsewhere. Can’t say that I blame them. I’ve done it myself.

But to make things more stressful, we all knowit all stops here, with us – the parents.

As if our jobs are not hard enough, we add a picky or selective eater to our daunting-ever-growing line-up of duties. Somedays it seems as though we will never win the food fight battle, let alone score a few points in our favor.

For many parents, loading healthy nutrition into your picky or selective eaters diet will always be source of a meal time battle. Because Autism affects each child uniquely, we all need to run our own battery of food testing on our own child. For some children it’s all about sensory issues – which can make introducing new and nutritious foods extremely hard for parents. If that isn’t complicated enough, dealing with children who like repetition and routines each day, provides another interesting challenge. Oral sensitivity issues can also make this difficult situation worse.

If you are a new parent of an ASD child, or a seasoned ASD parent, but need to make a nutritional change – please ask your doctor before starting any new food regiments. Most ASD families find going gluten and casein free really helps. Lose fast-food as quickly as you can. Try to stay dye-free and offer organic, minimally processed food replacements. Make this part of the whole families repertoire. Read labels. Cook at home any chance you have. Avoid highly proceeded foods at all costs.

Identifying food allergies. If children are reacting certain foods, pay close attention to this. Usually, if a child reject a certain food – it’s because the body is speaking. Your child’s body will naturally reject certain foods for a myriad of reasons. Pay close attention to those cues. Maybe your child is pressing his belly against the dinner table. This might signal a belly-ache. Whatever is causing these reactions, – these food should stay off the menu forever. Your child’s body will naturally attacks a food it identifies as harmful, causing symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain, intestinal integrity, shortness of breath, hives. With food intolerance, the digestive system alone rejects the food, finding it difficult to digest properly. Follow the food cues.

Think back on what your child repetitively eats. Maybe it’s a fast food item. Something before you realized it’s time for a change. Identify that item. Begin to build other foods to look like it. The shape, as well as the color. Example: Making homemade organic baked chicken tenderloins shorter and breaded in GF breadcrumbs to look like the fast food chicken nuggets you are trying to wean him off. Take all the time you need. Make sure this process is moving at the speed your child is absorbing the solution. Take each step a day at a time or once a week – on the same day each week.

Always prepare your child and NEVER lie or be deceitful and sneaky about food – this approach can create more challenges for you down the road and not only about food, but trust issues. If you are hiding food within the recipe – tell them, just select the right time – and that certainly is not before they eat it.

How to Introduce a New Food to a Selective Eater.

  1. Start a food journal. Inside the food journal, build a list containing two columns. In the first column list the foods that your child enjoys eating. Use the other column, to list a healthier alternative for each food listed in the first column. Keep another list on the dates the foods where offered.
  2. Remember, children are always watching and listening, even if you think they are not. Your families words and actions can make or break just about anything. Spread the message among the family members regarding your new food-fight strategy.
  3. Eat the desired new food while sitting next to your child and comment, how delicious the food tastes while you have your child’s attention, and the child is observing you eating and enjoying the new food. Remember – if you are not eating it, don’t expect your child to.
  4. Inflict Peer Pressure. Have a friend of the child, or a highly reinforcing person eat the food next to the child and make positive comments. Again, make sure your child is actually paying close attention.
  5. During therapy, downtime or homework hour. Place a photo of the desired food into the mix of whatever the child is working on. Make the food photo like a visual, tactile flashcard. Not a photo from your phone. One photo flashcard for each new food. Use one at a time or a few depending on your child. You know your child’s tolerance levels best. Play a flashcard game. Look at the food picture, and talk about the new food. The foods name, what it tastes like, and how delicious it is. Where it comes from, and who else eats it.
  6. When you have cycled through a few flashcard activities, add the actual real food to the flashcard line up. Just touch it, look at it, feel it and discuss how delicious it tastes. Include discussing ways of how people cook and eating the new food. Describe and identify textures.
  7. Once you have cycled through the flashcard game enough times, and the child has actually seen the new food, now is the time to place a small amount of the new food on a plate close by to the child’s plate during family meal times. Point to the new food and discuss it. Talk about how delicious it is, and allow the child to see you eat it, and enjoy it. Do not make the child touch or eat the food.
  8. Place a small amount of the new food on the child’s plate with his regular meal. Make sure this is a not a surprise and create a no pressure zone. Tell the child ahead you are putting the new food on the plate – using the name of the food, and telling the child they do not have to eat the new food, but they need to tolerate the food sitting on his plate during the course of the mealtime.
  9. Place the same food item on the child’s plate and during mealtimes, tell the child he needs to touch the food. Tell the child they do not have to eat the food, it just needs to be touched with a finger once during the mealtime.
  10. Continue the process until the food is tasted. Remain patience.The process of adding a new repertoire of foods won’t happen over night, but it will happen.

By the end of a four, to eight month period, depending on your child – you might have them eating many foods from the new, healthy food list column you originally designed – including organic a grass fed, nitrate free hamburger meats, new, healthier variations of chicken or fresh fish nuggets, and lots of real fruits and vegetables in their natural form.

Each child is different. Be patient – in the long run, you and your family will find peace of mind that you will eventually be free from all the additional health issues associated the negative aspects of eating highly processed foods.

Peaceful Parenting,

Chef Gigi