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You should never cook frozen chicken in a crock pot, USDA says

Crock-pots are all about convenience. You throw in some ingredients, go about your business, and whip out a delicious, hot meal a few hours later. No one takes the time to prep ingredients a whole day before for a crock-pot. That’s why it was so disconcerting to learn that taking chicken directly from the freezer and plopping it in the popular countertop appliance is a big no-no. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) website, slow cookers, as a whole, are safe. But in a section called “Slow Cookers and Food Safety,” the department elaborates and says that you should, “Always thaw meat or poultry before putting it in a slow cooker.” Unfortunately, microwaving it last minute isn’t even an option! Man, these guys are tough. The reasons are based on bacteria. The USDA explains that because your slow cooker is, well, slow to reach any cooking temperature…

Moldy foods that are still safe to eat, according to the USDA

Americans waste more than $160 billion in food every year — yikes! Of course, no one buys food with the anticipation of throwing it in the trash, but once something gets moldy, we have little choice. This might be true of most foods — but not all. According to the USDA, some foods can still be consumed even when mold is visibly present. This handy guide can help you decide if you’re still unsure. Here are 3 foods that don’t need to wind up wasted just because of a little mold: Moldy foods you can still eat 1. Hard salami and dry-cured country hams The USDA says that it’s normal for  these products to have a layer of surface mold. Think about the white coating around certain salamis — this is actually a benign mold that helps cure the meat and prevent harmful bacteria from growing. Just remove the surface,…

Is it safe to tear off the mold and eat the rest of the bread?

Bread. It’s one of those foods that you always like to have at your house, yet it gets moldy so quickly. When you see a loaf start to go bad you just rip off the green stuff and use the rest. All is good, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, that one little circle of moldy bread does ruin the whole loaf. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends that you toss bread at the first sign of mold. It seems excessive, but it’s true. Studies have shown that mold has long, threadlike roots that can penetrate deep into the entirety of nearly any food it grows on. And mold is nothing to take lightly. The microscopic fungi can cause a wide range of health problems including allergic reactions, breathing problems, stomach problems, and some molds — those that produce the substances known as aflatoxins — can even cause liver cancer.…

Is plastic better than wood?: The cutting board debate

Whether you cook three times a day or three times a year, you probably own a cutting board. It’s a kitchen staple with one simple job, but without it, you wouldn’t have anywhere to cut, chop, dice, or slice your meats, apples, and onions. While you may know you need a cutting board, do you know when you should choose a wooden board over a plastic one, or vice versa? After all, anything your food touches can be a source of contamination and foodborne illness, so kitchen tools and care are no small decision. As it turns out, there are some major differences between boards you should know before you head to the store. Wood versus plastic For most of history, chopping blocks then cutting boards were all made of wood. But the invention of modern plastics in 1907 meant that plastic utensils slowly began making its way into people’s…

Whole milk might be healthier than skim milk, study shows

For years, experts have been telling us that full-fat dairy products like whole milk are loaded with scary saturated fats and the low-fat dairy options like skim milk are better for us. But recent research suggests that full-fat dairy may actually be healthier than and more beneficial than previously thought. The new research, published in The Lancet, found that people who eat full-fat dairy aren’t any more likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes than those who opted for the low-fat versions. In fact, they might even be less likely to pack on the pounds. The observational study compiled data from about 136,000 adults across 21 countries on five continues. None of the participants had a history of heart disease, and they all completed detailed surveys, answering questions about type and frequency of dairy intake. The study found that dairy consumptions — no matter what kind — was…

Back-to-school food safety for parents, kids

Chances are you’ll worry more about finding foods for your child’s lunchbox that they’ll actually eat, than you will about whether those foods will be safe to eat by the time they get there. More than 48 million Americans will become stricken with food poisoning this year. That’s nearly 1 in every six people resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and more than 3000 deaths. Children are the most vulnerable to foodborne illnesses, so it’s worth taking extra precautions when packing their lunches. “One thing parents might want to do before school starts is pack a simple lunch with a cold source, and leave it on the counter,” said Marianne H. Gravely, Senior Technical Information Specialist of the Food Safety Education Staff at the USDA. “Wait the amount of time the child has to wait until lunch, and see if it’s still cold.” This activity gets the kids involved in their lunch planning but it also starts to teach them to become aware of the…

Kick off grilling season with proper food safety

For many Americans, the official kickoff to summer picnic and grilling season happens this weekend. With all of that food handling happening, it’s inevitable than many of us will end our fun afternoons with no-so-fun circumstances. An estimated 128,000 people nationwide will end up in the hospital with foodborne illnesses this year, but many of these can be prevented by properly cooking and storing foods when traveling and cooking out. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends that you refresh your memory on food safety before diving into summer festivities. Grilling basics: Keep perishable foods at or below 40ºF. Food should never sit out longer than 2 hours. If weather is hot, knock this down to 60 minutes. Pack separate coolers for perishable items and other items like drinks, if people will be reaching in and out. This will ensure your meats or poultry stay cold,…

These 10 foods have more potassium than that boring banana

If you know just one thing about potassium, it’s probably that it’s found in bananas.  Bananas are a portable, tasty source of potassium, but there other great foods that can help you reach your recommended daily intake, too. Potassium plays many important roles in the human body. You don’t hear as much about potassium as you do with say, vitamin C, fiber or even omega-3s, but 100,000 times every day, this electrolyte helps to trigger your heart to pump blood to the rest of of you body. It helps your muscles to move, your bones to stay strong and your nervous system to communicate. Low potassium intake has been linked with high blood pressure and kidney stones, according the National Institutes of Health. Less than two percent of people in the U.S. get the recommended 4,700 mg daily recommendation of potassium, according to The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Yes, that means a whopping 98 percent of…

Incredible facts about eggs you never knew

Whether they’re Benedict, baked, or hard-boiled, Americans sure love eggs. In fact, just last year, we ate 2.7 TRILLION of them, according to the Incredible Egg. But our favorite breakfast protein is hiding some fun facts. Did you know that most eggs are laid between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.? Or why some eggs float and others sink? Read on to discover more egg-citing facts and learn why eggs are all they’re cracked up to be. america’s egg basket According to the American Egg Board, Iowa is the leading producer of eggs in the United States with more than 54,000 hens and 8,000 employees hard at work. Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania are the next top three producers. According to the Incredible Egg, across the country, 251 million eggs are laid each day. inspiring chefs’ hats According to The Culinary Institute of America the folds in a chef’s hat — officially called a toque — supposedly…

This is why you should never defrost food on the kitchen counter or microwave

We’ve all been there — the intention to cook a nice chicken breast for dinner only to realize we’ve forgotten to defrost. Rather than looking for an alternative, we attempt to speed up the process by tossing the meat in the microwave instead. So what’s the big deal? Well, defrosting at those warm temperatures puts you at serious risk of eating dangerous levels of bacteria. Yikes! According to Professor Costa Stathopoulos from Abertay University, defrosting meat in the microwave “is really not the best of techniques.” Stathopoulos appeared on BBC Two’s Inside the Factory earlier this month and showed the difference between turkey meat that had been defrosted in the fridge versus turkey meat defrosted on the counter. The latter had twice the amount of harmful bacteria, including ecoli microorganisms. And that’s not even considering the warm temps the meat reaches in the microwave. Cold temperatures slow down bacterial growth, so your chance of an upset stomach…