Posts By: Theresa Albert

How to properly clean your kitchen

How long should things last in the fridge? In the cupboard? What about cutting boards and wooden spoons? Do you throw them away? How do you know if they are still safe or if they are bacteria laden?

Here are the things you should do weekly, monthly and yearly to keep your kitchen safe and tidy.

Weekly:
• Clean out the fridge and toss any leftovers that have been there more than 5 days.
• Rotate your vegetable bin and roast whatever is left in there.
• Chop all fruits and either freeze for smoothies, cook for compote or make into a fruit salad. They will be more likely to be consumed and enjoyed.

Monthly:
• Label all containers in the freezer with dates & use up anything that has been there more than 3 months
• Toss anything more than 6 months old or anything that has freezer damage.

Yearly:
• Go through the spice drawer and throw away any that have been there for a year (or more, yikes!)
• And since it is Mabel’s birthday month, March is your “deal with scary dishes” month

Plastic containers
Pull out all your plastics and have the gang match up lids. If they don’t have a cover, toss them. Any with cracks or discolouring should go too.

If you are a yogurt tub re-user, know that the plastics used are not intended to handle the heat of the dishwasher or repeated washings as they can leach toxic substances. Buy decent dishes with lids and label them so they don’t go missing and you will be further ahead.

Water bottles and sippy cups need to be paired and managed just like the other plastics. Then, scrub a sink clean and fill w soapy hot water and a capful of bleach. Soak bottles for 10 min to kill bacteria they may have formed in cracks and let air dry.

Cutting boards
Wooden cutting boards can harbour bacteria and mold. They shouldn’t go in the dishwasher as that can cause splintering and drying. Instead, wipe down with vinegar after each use, rub with cooking oil and get a new one if you start to see black spots of rot or mold.

Plastic cutting boards can go in the dishwasher and, even though, they can look rough and discolored, they should be soaked in a sink of hot water with a cap of bleach on occasion.

I am not a big fan of anti-bacterial washes, soaps and sprays, they tend to do more toxic harm than good but a good old fashioned annual rotation of attention to a kitchen is in order.

 

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

Food Memories

Can you recall what your parents made for you on your birthday? Did you get to go to a special restaurant? Did dad make his fried chicken? Mom bake her butterscotch cake? Nana nibble with you on her world famous peanut brittle?

We never forget our favourite comfort food. They form special memories and create pleasant associations with certain foods, flavours and textures. The layers of meaning have an impact that is much deeper than just taste. They become the way we comfort ourselves, treat ourselves or feel guilty. Here is a perfect example of how the message is really about the medium. Attaching meaning and pleasure to food and creating food memories is a great thing when done with love and awareness. It can also go very wrong.

Some of the warning signs that you may want to pay attention to are:

Do you reach for a sweet for your child when they are sad or suffer a small bump or bruise?

Do you serve dessert nightly?

Do you offer “snacks” in front of the TV?

Do you use the removal of a favorite treat as a threat to garner good behaviour?

Do you turn a blind eye when your child is mindlessly consuming food just so you can gain the few minutes of peace?

The better solution is to create positive associations with foods without using words or emotions. Let the positive experience and process speak for itself.

 

For instance:

A hug and a snuggle for 5 minutes after a boo-boo lasts much longer and goes deeper into the healing process than any piece of chocolate.

Dessert can signal the end of the work week and the beginning of family time when it is a Friday night special. The net result is fewer empty calories, something to look forward to and a special way of marking time which is something all  human beings need for strong mental grounding.

TV munching is all too common and it can create a lifelong association that can be impossible to overcome. Try to set up the policy of fruit and veggies only in front of screens. If you are going to eat mindlessly, let it have value.

Threats don’t work and they set up power struggles. Just stop.

As for birthdays, they should be special! A cherished treat or special recipe used only for celebrations help tie generations and memories together. They have timeless meaning. Try your very own childhood favourite on your kids and carry on a tradition or make one up. No time like the present.

 

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

 

How to save on food and eat healthy, too!

“It’s so expensive to eat healthy!!” is the mom’s lament.  But I’m here to tell you not to believe it!

Yes, it’s true that the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables are variable, seasonal and can take a good chunk of your money. But, did you know that there are perfectly nutritious, dirt cheap healthy food items on store shelves that you ought to be tossing into your cart?

Frozen foods
Frozen spinach – The frozen stuff represents about 3-4 whole bags of fresh spinach cooked down and ready to eat.  And it costs pennies per serving.

Frozen Brussels sprouts – The frozen sprouts are normally trimmed and ready to serve so there is no waste.  When you buy the fresh ones, you do lose a few leaves and ounces from each batch.

Frozen Organic Edamame – On a price per pound basis, a little goes a long way and they cost much less than even the cheapest cut of beef.

Canned goods
Canned peaches – Most canned peaches come from California at the peak of the season and retain their nutrients as well as texture.  Each can holds about 3 peaches which is less than a buck a peach.  Even in peak season, fresh, local peaches can cost more than that. These peaches are available in juice rather than sugar water and are great in smoothies, on pancakes or ice cream.

Canned tomatoes – This convenience is heaven sent. All the prep that goes in to peeling and poaching tomatoes can’t be quantified. The buck or so per can contributes one of the best sources of lycopene and vitamin A.

Dry Goods

Brown rice (even instant) – It contains more nutrients than white rice. For pennies per plate you can have the foundation of a variety of nourishing meals.

Red Lentils – These legumes can be stirred into any soup, pasta or sauce and they virtually disappear while adding phytonutrients and critical fibre.

Cost per nutrient fresh veg

Onions – Cheaper by the dozen and powerhouses of trace minerals.

 

Bagged Carrots – Not the baby ones! The whole carrot has much more to offer and is a fraction of the cost.

 

Cabbage – Ounce for ounce cheaper than broccoli and more versatile.  Shred into soup, pasta or make cole slaw.

 

There are hundreds of ways to cut corners on the household budget; your health need not be one of them.

 

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

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