Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Myth: Adding pureed veggies to recipes will make them healthier.

Answer: BUSTED, kind of...

Pumpkin puree (either canned or homemade), like other vegetable purees, can be added to recipes like macaroni and cheese or brownies. Will these dishes be healthier as a result? Will they significantly increase the amount of veggies in your diet? No. You are not adding enough pureed veggies to increase your daily intake. However, in the case of the brownies, you will be reducing the amount of fat you need to add to the recipe which is a great healthy habit when baking. But again, your veggie intake won’t be significantly increased by eating these brownies.

Bowl of pumpkin puree
I like to add pureed veggies like pumpkin puree to stews, chilis, tacos or burritos. They add flavor, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Best of all, when combined with herbs and spices you add new flavors to your favorite dishes.

You may find already prepared vegetable purees in the grocery store in packages or containers other than cans, but be aware that these are pricey alternatives and the canned purees are typically the most affordable option.

For more nutrition and health information and tips, visit

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Myth: Preparing a safe food supply for emergencies is too complicated.

Canned foods
Answer: BUSTED!

At this time of year the news is full of stories about tornadoes, floods and storms which can cause power outages. Take time NOW to ensure that you and your family are prepared. Put together an emergency supply of food and have the whole family participate. These tips will get you started:

  • Gather a 3-day emergency supply of food. Ask your children to find canned foods in your cupboard that could be used in this emergency supply such as ready-to-eat meat and fish, canned fruits in light juice, canned juices, canned veggies or bean salads. Other foods that can be included are peanut butter, crackers, jelly, trail mix and granola bars. Keep the items in a cool place. Store in a container that has a snug lid to keep pests out.
  • Date foods in your emergency supply. Change every 6 months. Throw out any cans that are corroded, dented or swollen.
  • Update your emergency supply every year depending on family members.

For more information and tips, see Be prepared for emergencies: Creating a 3-day food/water supply

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Myth: Food sold at farmers markets can be as safe as food from a grocery store.

Produce at farmers market
Answer: You’re right!
Shopping at Farmers Markets is a great way to meet and support local farmers, buy healthy produce and other tasty foods, and to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere! It is also a great place to take the kids for a fun outing.

However, the place where you are buying your food does not necessarily determine if the product will be safe or not safe. The most important factor is the practices that are used all the way from raising the food until the time that you eat it. Customers shopping at farmers markets, as well as any venue, should be sure to look for a few important clues to help give some idea of the product’s safety. Here are some clues to look for at the market:

Fresh produce
-       Should be clean, look fresh, no cuts or nicks
-       Displayed off the ground/floor
Cut or peeled produce
-       Displayed on/surrounded by ice
-       Look fresh and cold
Meats, eggs, cheeses
-       Package must feel cold; product in cooler/on ice
-       Egg cartons and eggs should be clean, not cracked
-       Must be pasteurized (Missouri regulation), ask vendor to confirm
Juice, cider
-       Pasteurized is safest
Hot prepared foods
-       Would like to see vendor using thermometer
-       Should have a lid, see steam rising from pan
-       Seeing vendors washing their hands
-       See a handwashing station in booth (particularly with prepared foods)
Booth, personal cleanliness
-       Surfaces of booth, knives, other utensils clean
-       Clean clothes, hands, no wiping nose, etc.
-       Look for any posted food safety certifications/trainings attended
All products
-       Ask vendors about their food safety practices

It is also important when buying foods at a farmers market or anywhere to be sure to handle it safely on the way home and once at home.

More information on this and other food safety topics is available from the University of Missouri Extension and FDA.

Contributor: Londa Nwadike, PhD, Extension Food Safety Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 816-482-5801

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Myth: There aren’t many things my teenager will do instead of sitting in front of a TV or computer screen.

Remote control pointed at television
Answer: BUSTED!

With National Screen-Free Week this week, May 5–11, help your teenager come up with alternatives to watching TV or sitting in front of a computer screen. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Do stretching exercises or yoga.
  • Find a new hobby.
  • Find a cause and volunteer at a local group to support it.
  • Plant a vegetable garden.
  • Try a new sport.

Find more ideas for your teenager at Play More, Watch Less

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