Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Myth: It is not safe to eat Easter eggs.

dyed Easter eggs in egg carton
Answer: That depends...

Decorating and hunting for Easter eggs are fun traditions for many families. However, you should follow the food safety practices listed below if you want to safely eat those eggs afterwards. Otherwise, the eggs should be discarded.

  • Dyeing eggs: After hard-boiling and dyeing eggs, they should be returned to the refrigerator within 2 hours to keep them cold. Be sure to use food-safe coloring if you are planning to eat the eggs. Also, make sure that everyone handling the eggs washes their hands first, as with any food product.

  • Hunting eggs: One of my earliest memories of witnessing a questionable food safety practice was seeing my cousin eat an Easter egg that we found outside on the ground about a week after the eggs were hidden. That was definitely not a safe practice! In fact, the total time that hard-boiled eggs should be out of the refrigerator while they are hid, hunted and found is 2 hours. It is also not recommended to eat hard-boiled eggs that have been lying on the ground because they can pick up bacteria, especially if the shells are cracked. Eggs should be hidden in places that are protected from dirt, moisture and other sources of bacteria. These “found” eggs must be washed, re-refrigerated and eaten within 7 days of cooking.

Hiding plastic eggs is the safest option for numerous reasons, including if you want to hide the eggs on the ground or don’t want to have to worry about getting hard-boiled eggs back in the refrigerator within two hours.

No one wants to have foodborne illness anytime, particular after a holiday, so be sure to follow these simple food safety practices. Enjoy your Easter eggs safely!

More information on Easter egg safety is available at http://missourifamilies.org/features/nutritionarticles/nut125.htm.

Contributor: Londa Nwadike, PhD, Extension Food Safety Specialist, University of Missouri/Kansas State University, nwadikel@missouri.edu, 816-655-6258

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Myth: There aren’t good alternatives to get my family away from their screens.

Siblings staring at laptop screen
Answer: BUSTED!

National Screen-Free Week, May 5–11, is the perfect time for your family to celebrate being ‘unplugged.’ Here are some ideas for your family to consider as alternatives to watching TV or sitting in front of a computer or mobile device:

  • Plan and prepare meals together.
  • Visit a park.
  • Take a walk down your street and collect litter.
  • Plant a garden. Tend it daily. It’s great exercise!

As parents you can reinforce play for your children. Keep a toy box available. Or create an obstacle course in your backyard. Take steps like these to remind your children to play instead of watching TV.

For more ideas, see MU Extension publication Play More, Watch Less

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, schusterer@missouri.edu, 573-882-1933

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Myth: There aren’t any good ways to wean my children off of TV.

Boy sitting in front of TV
Answer: BUSTED!

National Screen-Free Week, May 5-11, may be just what your family needs. The average American watches 36 hours of TV a week – yikes! Start looking at your family’s screen habits now and think about how you can prepare for National Screen-Free Week to celebrate being ‘unplugged.’ Here are some ways to change these TV habits:

  • Instead of sitting in front of a screen, get the family together to come up with alternative activities. Spring is a good time to get away from the TV, computer and tablet screens because you can include both indoor and outdoor activities. Post the ideas on your refrigerator.
  • Take TVs out of bedrooms. 71% of 8 to 18-year-olds have a TV in their bedroom. Sleeping with the TV on can disrupt sleep and may make your child tired the next day at school.
  • Turn off the TV during meals and put away tablets and cell phones. Instead, ask everyone about their day.
  • Keep TV and computers off unless someone is using them.

For more ideas, see the MU Extension publication Play More, Watch Less (download a free PDF of this publication at the link provided).

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, schusterer@missouri.edu, 573-882-1933

Monday, March 24, 2014

Myth: There aren’t any good food choices when traveling on spring break.

Answer: BUSTED!

Want to eat healthy while traveling on spring break? Here are 3 good tips:

  • Scope out the airports you will be in by doing an online search to see what healthy restaurants they have available.
  • For the restaurants in the airports or along your driving route, check out their menus online to find healthy options.
  • Bring bottled water and other healthy snacks like pre-cut veggies, nuts, fruits. Whole wheat bread with peanut or other nut butter is also a good snack.

For more ideas, check out Road food on MissouriFamilies.org.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, schusterer@missouri.edu, 573-882-1933

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Myth: There aren’t any good free apps that teach my child about making healthy food choices.

Answer: BUSTED!

There’s a new entry into the world of mobile apps for parents and caregivers looking for free apps that teach children about healthy eating in a fun and engaging way. Body Quest: Food of the Warrior! is a series of seven iPad apps tested with third graders. Six Body Quest warriors are the narrators/guides in these mobile apps: Body Doc, Muscle Max, Graino Supa, Shining Rainbow, Fiberlicious and Super Slurper. Each of these warriors have super powers that come from healthy foods and drinks.

Screenshot of Body Quest app showing the 6 Body Quest warriors
  • Body Doc explores the goodness of fruits.
  • Muscle Max ‘pumps you up’ with healthy sources of protein.
  • Graino Supa is the warrior focused on healthy grains.
  • Shining Rainbow shines the light on vegetables.
  • Fiberlicious reminds us where to find fiber and why it’s good for us.
  • Super Slurper is the warrior touting cool drinks for kids – water and milk.

Your child will learn what it takes to be a Body Quest warrior. Each of the seven apps includes challenges like getting over fears of trying new foods and more.

For information about the content of each free app go to www.aces.edu/family-health/health-nutrition/bodyquest/iPadApps.php or download them using the search title, Body Quest.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, schusterer@missouri.edu, 573-882-1933