healthy

  • “Vol­un­tary“

    In the realm of fresh food prod­ucts, either retail or food­ser­vice, prod­uct recalls are not par­tic­u­larly unusual.

    A recall is the action or method of remov­ing or cor­rect­ing prod­ucts that are in vio­la­tion of laws admin­is­tered by the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA).

    A food recall occurs when there is rea­son to believe that a food may cause con­sumers to become ill. A food pro­ducer ini­ti­ates the recall to take foods off the mar­ket. In some sit­u­a­tions, food recalls are requested by gov­ern­ment agen­cies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) and the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA). Obvi­ously, prod­uct can be recalled for many rea­sons. This can include (but not be lim­ited to), the dis­cov­ery of organ­isms such as bac­te­ria like Sal­mo­nella or for­eign objects like bro­ken glass or metal. It can be due to a major aller­gen (dairy or nuts) not being dis­closed on a label.

    Most prod­uct recalls are char­ac­ter­ized as being “vol­un­tary”. This term is some­what ambigu­ous and may lead indi­vid­u­als to believe that a vol­un­tary recall is optional. That is def­i­nitely not true.

    A vol­un­tary recall is an indi­ca­tion that the man­u­fac­turer, grower or ship­per of the poten­tially harm­ful pro­duce has been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion and coop­er­a­tion with the fed­eral agency.

  • Air Fare

    Vaca­tion­ers will take to the skies in record num­bers this sum­mer. Air travel can be very stress­ful with TSA check­points and man­ag­ing per­sonal affects.

    Feel­ing good at the end of a flight may depend on how well and what we eat and drink inside the air­port ter­mi­nal.

    Hydra­tion is essen­tial to hav­ing a good travel expe­ri­ence. Bring a portable water bot­tle to be filled once inside secu­rity clear­ance or pur­chase bot­tled water at ven­dor loca­tions. Drink up!

    Avoid bev­er­ages known to upset the tummy. Too much cof­fee, alco­hol or orange juice will bother most peo­ple. Order more sooth­ing drinks like club soda or herbal teas.

    Fruits like berries, pineap­ple, can­taloupe, cucum­bers and water­melon con­tain a high per­cent­age of water.
  • All in the Fam­ily

    Cab­bages are from the “cole crop” fam­ily. Other mem­bers in this hearty tribe include broc­coli, Brus­sels sprouts, kohlrabi, col­lard greens and cau­li­flower.

    We can sep­a­rate cab­bages in to four main types: green, red (or pur­ple), Savoy, and Napa cab­bages.

    In com­mon are the sexy lay­ers of alter­nat­ing leaves, each cup­ping the next, form­ing a firm, dense head. Spring is the per­fect excuse to explore using all four types of cab­bages in a myr­iad of ways.

    Braised, boiled, charred, sauteed or raw; rolled, slawed or casseroled– cab­bage is happy at cen­ter plate or assum­ing a sup­port­ing cast role.

    From Ger­many to Asia, schnitzel to stir fry, world cuisines know how make cab­bages some­thing we crave. Com­fort dishes made by grand­moth­ers give mod­ern recipes a run for the money.

    Selec­tion: Choose firm, heavy heads of green, red and savoy cab­bage with closely furled leaves. Color is an indi­ca­tion of fresh­ness. For exam­ple, green cab­bages stored for too long lose pig­ment and look almost white. To ensure fresh­ness, check the stem ends of cab­bage heads to make sure the stem has not cracked around the base, which indi­cates unde­sir­ably lengthy stor­age. Chi­nese cab­bage leaves should be crisp, unblem­ished and pale green with tinges of yel­low and white.
  • Bah Hum­bug

    Play­ing it safe for the upcom­ing hol­i­days– Hanukkah, Christ­mas, Kwanza, New Year’s and beyond– seems like the biggest killjoy for fes­tive social gath­er­ings.

    Pub­lic health mes­sages, man­dates and restric­tions have been great about advis­ing on what not to do.

    Newly issued county and state orders push the “stay at home” behav­ior mod­els for pre­vent­ing more COVID esca­la­tion.

    We hear of the no-no’s and high risk behav­iors to avoid. Once those are spelled out, we can mod­ify activ­ity. What about atten­tion paid to what we can do?

    This newest round of pub­lic lock­downs comes as COVID fatigue and resent­ment peaks. Humans are social crea­tures.

    These past months have been stress­ful and iso­lat­ing. Our col­lec­tive strong desire is to be with fam­ily, friends and loved ones for rit­ual and celebration.
  • Blur­ring the Lines

    Amidst the chal­lenges of the pan­demic, we are rethink­ing not just the way we eat, but what we eat and when. Cer­tain foods are no longer rel­e­gated to spe­cific time slot assign­ments.

    Under daily pres­sure, hall­marks of the COVID food cloud are resource­ful­ness and flex­i­bil­ity. Tak­ing con­trol and let­ting go teeter-​totter back-​and-​forth. Par­ents, kids and sin­gles give per­mis­sion to eat a bowl of Chee­rios for din­ner.

    Strik­ing a bal­ance between health and well­ness over indul­gence, con­ve­nience and com­fort is ever present.

    Opti­mum health is always the long range goal. Short­term, we’re bom­barded by daily restric­tions, lim­i­ta­tions and now food fatigue. Wait­ing in line to shop or for menu pickup takes a toll. Meal prep, time and money erode the very thing that makes us whole. Stress-​free activ­i­ties are worth pur­suit.

    Wear the mask. Keep your dis­tance. Stay alert to some­one with a cough or too close con­tact. Anx­i­ety increases the desire to blur the lines. Throw­ing in the towel on meal plan­ning doesn’t mean a bowl of ice cream for break­fast.

    Mac­a­roni and cheese makes more sense as a cham­pi­oned morn­ing choice. This pop­u­lar com­fort food is not shy on calo­ries. Tak­ing lib­erty with stan­dard morn­ing fare means we have time to enjoy the heat of those calo­ries through­out the day.
  • Cook­ing Greens


    About the Pro­duce Beat: David John hosts this weekly pro­gram regard­ing every­thing you ever wanted to know about fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles: selec­tion, stor­age, prepa­ra­tion, vari­eties, sea­sonal avail­abil­ity, trivia, and his per­sonal secrets about how to enjoy pro­duce.
  • Crowded House

    Sort­ing out the pantry leads to assess­ing which kitchen appli­ances are still rel­e­vant.

    A few of these “well worn” helpers could use some love and atten­tion. Per­haps give them a deep clean­ing, or replace a dull blade or bro­ken knob.

    Oth­ers are parked on a shelf in the way, way back of a cab­i­net or cup­board drawer. Neglected for some time, a dona­tion to a wor­thy recip­i­ent might be in order.

    How many cof­fee (spice) grinders does one house­hold really need? When is that expen­sive fresh juicer, and all the gear that goes with, going to see some action again? Be hon­est in eval­u­at­ing future use.

    The Sous Vide immer­sion gad­get sees action when that Christ­mas prime rib din­ner is on deck. It mostly remains idle through­out the year.

    Stor­ing a sous vide is less cum­ber­some than say a crock pot, elec­tric skil­let, meat grinder, food proces­sor, or cap­puc­cino maker.

    At least the Ital­ian cof­fee mak­ers have some char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity. Bright color choices, post-​modern shapes and inter­est­ing styles allow for coun­ter­top place­ment. Other small wares don’t have this advan­tage. Off the shelf for use and replaced once pan­cakes are fin­ished.

    New “must have” elec­tri­cal gad­gets and small appli­ances become all the rage with every hol­i­day sea­son. Air pop­pers seem to be trend­ing for the 2020 wish list.

    Insta Pots held the top spot the last few years. At least they have mul­ti­ple use rec­om­men­da­tions that almost jus­tify their existence.
  • Drink Up!

    Stay­ing prop­erly hydrated is impor­tant year round but espe­cially crit­i­cal dur­ing hot sum­mer days.

    Summer’s heat and humid­ity increases hydra­tion needs because our bod­ies are per­spir­ing more. Increased humid­ity pre­vents per­spi­ra­tion from evap­o­rat­ing or low­er­ing our body tem­per­a­tures.

    Dehy­dra­tion can lead to exces­sive thirst, fatigue, cramp­ing, nau­sea, heat exhaus­tion or even stroke. To pre­vent dehy­dra­tion, drink water reg­u­larly and replace lost elec­trolytes with nat­ural sports drinks that don’t con­tain too much sugar.

    Fruits and veg­eta­bles with high water con­tent can improve hydra­tion and effec­tively reg­u­late an active human body. Take notice of some sea­sonal favorites that can act as nour­ish­ment and also aid in fluid replen­ish­ment.

    There are lots of foods that nat­u­rally aide hydra­tion. Most fruits are very hydrat­ing. Water­melon is an obvi­ous easy choice. Rich in vit­a­min C, beta carotene and lycopene, the appro­pri­ately named water­melon is about 92 per­cent water.

  • Eat, Drink, Rest.

    Cold and flu sea­son has arrived with some vengeance. It is shap­ing up to be an intense cou­ple of months.

    Hol­i­day travel and shop­ping crowds con­nected the dots on both coasts.

    Hard to know which is which? Usu­ally, colds are milder and include a runny or stuffy nose. A cough and sneez­ing go along with a cold.

    The flu is usu­ally more severe and typ­i­cally comes on sud­denly. The flu has a knack for wip­ing peo­ple out for a few days. Fever, body aches, and exhaus­tion com­monly accom­pany the flu.

    Pre­ven­tion is key. Hav­ing a flu shot will min­i­mize the affects of this year’s virus. Proper and fre­quent hand wash­ing will stave off con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing germs left on door knobs, phones, uten­sils and other surfaces.
  • Flu Shots

    Cold and flu sea­son is on the hori­zon. Some work places have already seen the unwanted viral spread of germs, coughs and sore throats.

    This is a good time of year to refresh the fun­da­men­tals of pre­ven­tion. Invest­ing in healthy habits is a good jump start to ward­ing off a lousy cold or flu bug.

    Flu vac­ci­na­tions are avail­able at nearly every phar­macy, gro­cery store and clinic in town. Dou­ble down on pro­tec­tion by boost­ing your immunity.

    The Cal­i­for­nia cit­rus sea­son is just under­way. Some of the best sources of vit­a­min C are cit­rus fruits. Juic­ing up with new crop navel oranges, grape­fruits, tan­ger­ines, man­darins and lemons gives the body a lift and sup­ports the body’s nat­ural defenses.

    A well-​balanced diet, rich in veg­eta­bles and fruits– leafy greens, cau­li­flower, mush­rooms and cit­rus fruits– pro­vides the nutri­ents to resist pathogens. Atten­tion to what goes on the plate is par­tic­u­larly impor­tant when fight­ing sea­sonal bugs.

  • Fork “Over” Knife

    A plant-​based diet can boost opti­mum health, decreas­ing the risk of heart dis­ease, Type 2 dia­betes, and cer­tain can­cers.

    The main advan­tages with a plant-​based diet seem to be related more to the foods con­sumed (eat­ing plenty of veg­eta­bles, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts) rather than those foods avoided (pri­mar­ily meats).

    Stay­ing at a healthy weight is eas­ier on a plant-​based diet and menu. A “less meat, more plants” style of eat­ing can improve qual­ity of life.

    Asso­ci­ated ben­e­fits include the reduc­tion of inflam­ma­tion and dis­eases attrib­uted to inflam­ma­tion. Lower cho­les­terol and blood pres­sure lev­els are oth­ers plus ups seen with plant-​based food choices.

    There are many dif­fer­ent types of plant-​based diets. The three most com­mon ones are: Vegan: No ani­mal prod­ucts such as meat, eggs, or dairy prod­ucts. Lacto-​vegetarian: No meat or eggs, but dairy prod­ucts are accept­able. Lacto-​Ovo-​vegetarian: No meat is con­sumed, but dairy prod­ucts and eggs are allowed.
  • Fresh Turmeric


    Turmeric: what it is, health ben­e­fits, prepa­ra­tion, usage.
  • Fruit Impulse

    Ever since the start of the global pan­demic, cit­rus demand and vol­ume have been tremen­dous. Navel oranges, in par­tic­u­lar, have been in high demand.

    Con­sumers have got­ten the mes­sage that vit­a­min C is a good immu­nity boost. Given any chance to fight COVID-​19 through health­ier food choices, cit­rus makes log­i­cal sense.

    Typ­i­cally, veg­etable choices make their way to the gro­cery shop­ping list. We tend to build meals around veg­eta­bles or at min­i­mum, lay a foun­da­tion of fla­vor. Fresh fruits suf­fer the fate of being more of an “impulse” buy over must have items.

    Onions, cel­ery, gar­lic, car­rots, mush­rooms and bell pep­pers fre­quent any tasty sauce, stir fry or sum­mer grilling dish. It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine cook­ing with­out them. These pantry sta­ples are hardly out of stock.

    Spe­cialty or eth­nic menu sug­ges­tions call for egg­plants, cab­bages, green onions, leeks, pota­toes and squashes. Turn­ing them in to a sump­tu­ous meal is only a recipe away.

    Most fresh prod­ucts are being sold by super­mar­kets. In the United States and many other coun­tries, restau­rants are still closed or lim­ited on how much and what food is being served.

    Less demand on cer­tain fresh pro­duce items and more demand on oth­ers makes it a very unpre­dictable sup­ply chain. Afford­able fruits and veg­eta­bles with a good shelf life com­mand shop­per atten­tion. In nor­mal mar­kets, fruits gen­er­ally get trac­tion from sea­sonal pro­mo­tions. Today’s empha­sis is geared towards stay­ing healthy.
  • Good Med­i­cine

    Cold, damp months perk up from win­ter cit­rus. The skin, zest, juice and tangy flesh brighten up culi­nary choices with great fla­vor and a lively vibrancy.

    Cit­rus fruits add color, tang, sweet­ness, and tart­ness. They eas­ily bring some needed bal­ance to savory, rich, or sweet dishes.

    In addi­tion to numer­ous culi­nary ben­e­fits, cit­rus fruits also pro­vide a wide range of healthy, “good for you” attrib­utes. They are proven to be good med­i­cine dur­ing win­ter and beyond.

    Dieti­tians and health pro­fes­sion­als heap high praise on cit­ruses for their high vit­a­min C con­tent. One medium orange pro­vides more than 100 per­cent of the rec­om­mended daily vit­a­min C needs.

    Cold and flu sea­son is rea­son enough to boost our immu­nity. Fight­ing the risk of COVID-​19 is why the dou­ble down efforts focus on the cit­rus defen­sive. Lucky then that we are headed into the peak of cit­rus sea­son.

    Cit­ruses help our bod­ies get rid of free rad­i­cals and pos­i­tively impact a range of meta­bolic func­tions that help us thrive.

    What’s so amaz­ing is their ver­sa­til­ity. Beyond being a per­fect out-​of-​hand snack, cit­rus fruits can be enjoyed in a myr­iad of ways.
  • Heal­ing Kitchen

    Encour­ag­ing an appetite is hardly the worry for most healthy indi­vid­u­als. Too many of us are try­ing to squash our food crav­ings.

    For oth­ers, it can be quite a chal­lenge to coax eat­ing for sus­te­nance and nour­ish­ment.

    Nearly every­one knows a friend, neigh­bor or fam­ily mem­ber who suf­fers from lack of inter­est or desire to eat or drink.

    Typ­i­cally, this is due to a tem­po­rary set­back, like hav­ing the flu or recov­er­ing from den­tal work. The con­di­tion is short term and nor­mal eat­ing pat­terns will resume.

    Dimin­ished appetites from chronic con­di­tions (aging and dis­ease) jeop­ar­dize opti­mum health and often indi­cate some­thing more seri­ous can be at work. Depres­sion, sad­ness, grief and health dis­or­ders are all on the table when the will to eat goes south.
  • Hydra­tion Sta­tion

    Steamy sum­mer days make it tough to stay cool. Stay­ing hydrated is another mat­ter altogether.

    Drink­ing enough water or other flu­ids is a tall order for some. It can require a delib­er­ate action plan. This is par­tic­u­larly true when it comes to seniors, chil­dren and athletes.

    Ade­quate hydra­tion can pre­vent cramps, heat exhaus­tion, dizzi­ness, low blood pres­sure and heat stroke.

    The aver­age per­son can lose as many as ten cups of fluid from daily activ­i­ties and exer­cise. This may be stag­ger­ing on extremely hot days with severe con­se­quences. Fre­quent hydra­tion is essential.

    There are plenty of tricks to boost smart hydra­tion. Visual cues are help­ful reminders to stay replen­ished through­out the day. Set up a hydra­tion sta­tion in plain sight.

  • Inhale Spring

    Once the door to Spring is cracked open, watch out. There seems to be no limit of vibrant swaths of color pop­ping up every­where.

    It’s hard to miss the stun­ning fruit tree blos­som­ing in and around neigh­bor­hoods or road­side orchards.

    A river walk presents clus­ters of wild neon pop­pies and ver­dant anise in early bloom. Breathe it all in…then exhale slowly.

    Awaken the senses with pots of bold color after Easter pas­tels fade. Peren­nial bulb plants give us an excuse, as if one is needed, to dig in the gar­den beds.

    Avoid get­ting dirt on the hands alto­gether with one quick trip to a gro­cery store these days. The bevy of new color bowls and pot­ted color bulbs and plants is staggering.
  • Keto Sabe

    Eat­ing low carb or look­ing for ways to shake up the daily menu? Veg­eta­bles will then play a key role.

    Not all veg­eta­bles have the same impact when there is a com­mit­ment to reduce sugar intake.

    As much as we may love them, starchy veg­eta­bles are the ones to be avoided. This includes pota­toes, peas, corn, yams, beans and legumes.

    Best to savor those for spe­cial occa­sions or splurges. Car­rots, some win­ter squashes and even onions should also be con­sumed in mod­er­a­tion on a keto­genic diet.

    There are plenty of other great tast­ing, ver­sa­tile veg­gies to work into the daily mix. Nutri­ent dense, dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale top the list. They leap from sal­ads to omelets and power up protein-​rich smoothies.

  • Kid Friendly

    “Back to school”. Three words that push fam­i­lies into tem­po­rary mad­ness.

    New back­pack, book and sup­ply pur­chases tax fam­ily bud­gets. Clothes shop­ping adds another bur­den on already stressed out par­ents.

    The last demand for launch­ing kids back to school might be the sin­gle most sig­nif­i­cant one in terms of A+ per­for­mance.

    Appeal­ing break­fast and lunch meals are impor­tant for get­ting stu­dents on track to a good year of learn­ing. How we approach these meals has a broad range of tac­tics.

    Past gen­er­a­tions of school kids (ages 612) ate what was put in front of them. The “take it or leave it” mes­sage was enforced to the baby boomers.

    Today’s young peo­ple are far more exposed to a vari­ety of foods with vary­ing degrees of nutri­tional value. Many life-​long food habits are formed dur­ing these crit­i­cal years.
  • Lighten Up!

    Zuc­chini and other sum­mer squash vari­eties seem to be every­where. What are we wait­ing for such a squash sur­plus at our fin­ger­tips?

    If pasta noo­dles are on the table at least once a week, this is the best sea­son to go for a light­ened up ver­sion with noo­dles cen­ter­plate.

    Alfredo, mari­nara and pesto clas­sics make for irre­sistible sauces on top of squash noo­dles.

    Grain free squash cut in either wide rib­bons or curly or flat thin noo­dles beckon to kitchen enthu­si­asts to explore all options. A sim­ple dressed up top­per of mint, basil, gar­lic and lemon juice keeps life sim­ple.

    Asian noo­dle bowls are a world apart from Italy. Pad Thai, lo mein, stir fries and broth­ier dishes meant to be slurped give way to robust flavors.