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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lunch Box Relief

    Going “back to school” amid COVID con­di­tions is any­thing but nor­mal. As health offi­cials, par­ents and school lead­ers decide on what safe learn­ing looks like, there is the loom­ing ques­tion of “what’s for lunch”?

    Through­out the past sev­eral months, many school dis­tricts have been able to pro­vide grab and go lunches and some­times break­fast to appre­cia­tive fam­i­lies.

    In many cases, these meals are the only or most sub­stan­tial nutri­tion a child might expect that day.

    The USDA funds sev­eral meal and nutri­tion pro­grams. These pro­grams oper­ate in pub­lic and non­profit pri­vate schools and res­i­den­tial child care insti­tu­tions. Most pro­vide nutri­tion­ally bal­anced, low-​cost or free meals to chil­dren each and every school day. The orig­i­nal pro­gram was estab­lished under the National School Lunch Act, signed by Pres­i­dent Harry Tru­man in 1946.

    Sev­enty four years later, food inse­cu­rity for school aged kids is even greater. Roughly, 30 mil­lion stu­dents eat school lunch every day and 22 mil­lion of these chil­dren rely on free or reduced-​price school lunch.

    School lunch and break­fast are free for house­holds under 130% of the fed­eral poverty level and reduced cost for house­holds under 185% of poverty. The Fed­eral Poverty Line is $26,200 for a fam­ily of four in 2020.
  • On Trend

    Every year, lead­ers in the culi­nary world bring us new ways to think about food, plan our meals and choose how to eat.

    From small plate shar­ing to home meal kits, vari­ety and dis­cover keep the food indus­try evolv­ing.

    Con­sumers may not always agree with the changes, but they will at least take a look at what is on trend.

    In 2018, health­ier eat­ing choices con­tinue to drive prod­ucts to the front of the food equa­tion. Watch for more pro­tein options and super food ingre­di­ents.

    Plant based foods have been strong, cen­ter plate menu themes for quite some time now. From roasted cau­li­flower steaks to spicy gar­banzo bean cakes, lean­ing on global cuisines for plant based ingre­di­ents boosts their star power.
  • Per­fect Por­ridge

    Since Jan­u­ary holds title to National Oat­meal Month, now is the per­fect time to exper­i­ment with this favored morn­ing grain.

    Oats have long been a part of the world’s diet for hun­gry humans and their ani­mal coun­ter­parts.

    The health ben­e­fits of oats are well doc­u­mented. From low­er­ing LDL lev­els (bad cho­les­terol) to weight con­trol and heart wise affects, there are many plus ups to enjoy­ing oats.

    Tra­di­tional think­ing puts a bowl of hot oat­meal smack cen­ter of the break­fast table. Bright “oats ideas” quick to fol­low are oat­meal cook­ies, gra­nola, muffins and breads.

    Before we leave the break­fast table and morn­ing rou­tine, it should be noted that healthy oats are right at home incor­po­rated into soups, pilafs, meat­balls, entrees and desserts.

    Whether one is a Quaker Oats oat­meal eater, or a fan of Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats, there is a place at the table for all Jan­u­ary oats.

    Ardent pro­po­nents have cre­ated cold oats jars that are make ahead ready. These grab and go meals are a time saver for crazy morn­ing rou­tines. These jam jar jew­els boast lay­ers of oats, fresh fruits, chopped nuts, seeds (chia or flax) honey or maple syrup, along with yogurt or almond milk. Oat Cui­sine– Food carts and trendy break­fast spots from coast to coast are rein­vent­ing clas­sic oats.

    Unex­pected ingre­di­ents and cre­ative meth­ods (from brulees to frit­ters) have made oat­meal hip.
  • Pickle Pantry

    Humans have been pick­ling and pre­serv­ing food for nearly 5000 years.

    Queen Cleopa­tra attrib­uted her good health and remark­able looks to her indul­gent diet of pick­les.

    The United States gov­ern­ment rationed pick­les in the 1940’s, dur­ing World War II. Forty per­cent of the nation’s pro­duc­tion went to our armed forces.

    Aunt Bee (the fic­tional tele­vi­sion char­ac­ter of the 1960’s Andy Grif­fith Show) entered her home­made pick­les in a local con­test, cre­at­ing angst in the fam­ily over her “kerosene cucum­bers”.

    Over cen­turies, the love affair for pick­led foods has only grown stronger. Cur­rent pickle trends move well past a cucum­bers only rule. A wave of “DIY” pick­les of fruits and veg­eta­bles in acidic baths or brines keeps us inter­ested.

    Sweet, sour, salty, spicy or hot cre­ative and com­plex com­bi­na­tions make us pickle happy. Cus­tomized blends of vine­gars, salts and spices are the for­mula to win­ning secret recipes.

  • Quick Recov­ery

    Doesn’t it seem like we all know some­one who has recently had or is about to have a surgery of some kind?

    Besides “Get Well” card greet­ings, feel­ing bet­ter and quick recov­ery depends on the right post surgery meals.

    Eat­ing the right foods after surgery can pro­mote faster heal­ing and min­i­mize the swelling, bruis­ing and the inflam­ma­tion that often accom­pany any type of sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure.

    Cer­tain foods can also min­i­mize diges­tive upset caused by antibi­otics and pre­vent con­sti­pa­tion caused by pain med­i­cines. Prop­erly fuel­ing the body sup­plies the energy needed to get back to nor­mal rou­tines.

    Whole, unprocessed foods are the best way to approach post op meals. Lean pro­teins, fiber filled foods and fer­mented dairy (pro­bi­otics) assist in get­ting things on track diges­tively and heal­ing wise.