A Safe Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen

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You can cook all of the healthy food your heart desires, but if you do not use safe cooking practices in the kitchen, you will still end up getting sick! It is so important to follow guidelines regarding how long to keep leftovers, at what temperatures to store foods, + what temperatures to cook foods!

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Your Guide to Safe Storage

Follow these guidelines regarding how long fresh foods can be safely stored in the refrigerator + the freezer!

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Safe Storage for Lovely Leftovers!

Saving some delicious leftovers for another day?  Here is a guide of how long they can be safely stored in the refrigerator.

In order to prevent bacterial growth, it is essential that foods are cooled rapidly to a safe refrigerator temperature of 40°F or below. The “Danger Zone,” in which bacteria multiply rapidly is between 40°F + 140°F. This is why cooling quickly to below 40°F is important for food safety. If you need to cool large amounts of food, such as a pot of soup, divide the soup into shallow containers to decrease cooling time. Other large leftovers such as whole roasts, hams, turkey, or chicken breasts can be cut into smaller pieces to facilitate more rapid cooling. Keep in mind that leftovers must be cooled + refrigerated to a safe temperature within 2 hours of cooking! Also, remember to always seal + wrap leftovers in airtight containers to help retain moisture + keep bacteria out.

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** When in doubt, throw it out!

Always Check for Safe Internal Temperatures

In order to ensure foods are cooked to safe temperatures, the internal temperature of the food needs to be taken. Relying on sight, smell, or taste to determine if food is safe to eat can be quite risky.  For the most accurate reading, a thermometer should be used on the thickest part of the food, not touching bone or fat. Compare food temperatures to the safe internal cooking temperatures listed below. Keep in mind that some foods, such as beef, veal, lamb, pork + raw ham, require a resting time of three minutes post cooking to ensure safety for eating.

*Always clean thermometers with hot soapy water after each use!

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Safe Thawing of Frozen Foods

Just take the meat out of the freezer + set it on the counter until it is thawed + ready to be cooked, right? Wrong. Thawing meat is a more delicate process.  Foods cannot spend too long in the “Danger Zone” of 140-40°F, the temperature in which bacteria can rapidly multiply, or they will be deemed unsafe for eating.

1. Refrigerator thawing: Thawing frozen foods in the refrigerator is a safe, but lengthy process.  Because this thawing takes such a long period of time, be sure to plan ahead so foods are ready when needed. If frozen, a pound of ground meat or boneless chicken breast may require a full day to thaw. Foods thawed in the refrigerator could be frozen again without cooking if plans change + the food is not cooked.

2. Cold water thawing: This is a faster process than refrigerator thawing. It is important the item is contained within a leak proof package or plastic bag. This is to prevent bacteria from the air getting into the food + to avoid meat soaking up water + losing quality. The item should be submerged in cold tap water + the water needs to be changed every 30 minutes. Depending on the amount of meat, this could take anywhere from less than an hour to 3 or more hours.  Foods thawed using this method need to be cooked before refrozen.

3. Microwave thawing: Microwave thawing should be done right before the food item is cooked.  The microwaving process causes some parts of the meat to get hotter than others; therefore some parts of the meat may actually start to cook in the microwave thawing process. Partially cooked meat is at a dangerous place for bacterial growth, so immediate cooking is recommended in order to kill potential bacterial growth.

** DO NOT thaw foods using hot water, or by leaving them out in the open. This would subject the food to the danger zone optimal bacterial growth temperatures for too long, deeming the foods unsafe to eat. 

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October Pumpkin Bread

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Raise your hand if you are excited that fall is officially in full swing! I am looking forward to pumpkin treats, cooler weather, + dusting off my favorite boots. The weather has been crazy the last couple weeks. Here in Chicago, it was in the 90s for about a week + a half. I was at the Steelers vs Bears game almost two weeks ago + it was 93. Oooof! That was a rough day to be a Steeler fan, that’s for sure.

Anyway, while we wait for those magnificent red + orange leaves, I am satisfying my early pumpkin cravings with this pumpkin bread. It is made with pumpkin purée + spices, of course, plus honey, whole wheat flour, + extra virgin olive oil. Combine all of those in one bowl + you will get some seriously amazing pumpkin bread.

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INGREDIENTS

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin purée [I got mine from Trader Joe’s]
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin spice blend (½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, + ¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cup regular whole wheat flour
  • Totally optional: ½ cup mix-in [I used cinnamon + pumpkin chips]
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350° + grease a 9×5-inch bread pan
  2. In a large bowl, beat the oil + honey together together with a whisk. Add the eggs + whisk until blended.
  3. Add the pumpkin purée, milk, pumpkin spice blend, baking soda, vanilla, + salt. Whisk to blend. Lastly, switch to a big spoon + stir in the flour, just until combined. Some lumps are okay! If you are adding any additional mix-ins, gently fold them in now.
  4. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan + sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. If you would like a pretty swirled effect, run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern.
  5. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing. Enjoy! 🙂

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I just baked a loaf for the Penn State vs. Northwestern tailgate with a bunch of my friends tomorrow. Have an amazing weekend, loves! 🙂

 

The “National Waffle Day” Waffle

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Happy National Waffle Day folks! Today was a long day + I did not get the chance to partake nor share my favorite waffle recipe but better late than never, right? These are low carb protein waffles + unbelievably easy to make, containing just five simple ingredients + still taste delicious. I am all about the easy to cook but still healthy + delicious life.

Waffles are my top favorite breakfast food. If I had to choose between a waffle + a pancake… it is not even a choice for me. Waffles are #1 in my heart – they require no flipping. Then, you have the nooks + crannies to hold the drizzles of maple syrup. You guys have no idea how much I miss the Waffle Shop in State College, ugh! I cannot wait to go back in two weeks.

Research shows that starting your day with a high-protein breakfast can aid in weight loss + boost energy. Sometimes I start my day with one waffle, a drizzle of maple syrup, + fresh strawberry slices. It is the perfect pre-run meal – it satisfies my hunger + gives me the burst of energy I need to kick start the day. I can almost guarantee you these will leave you feeling worlds better than the typical high-sugar + boxed waffle (or pancake) breakfast.

This recipe is gluten free, low carb, contains no processed sugar + is made with P96 Vanilla – my one + only protein powder. I absolutely love how simple, easy, + healthy this recipe is, but the best part is how tasty it is!

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INGREDIENTS
  • 1 scoop or serving of your favorite protein powder (I use Vanilla P96)
  • ¼ cup egg whites from a carton + 1 tablespoon of water
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon or pumpkin spice
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heatyour waffle iron.
  2. Stir all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, until batter is free of lumps.
  3. Once waffle iron is heated, spray top and bottom of iron with non-stick cooking spray and pour batter over bottom iron.
  4. When waffle iron goes off, transfer waffle to a plate and dress it up with all of your favorites. Serve immediately or store in a covered container to reheat and enjoy later.

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

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Happy Monday, loves! 🙂

 

I am trying very hard to convert myself from an Omnivore to a Vegan – if it is even possible. For those of you who know me very well know that I only ate about 4 things in college: chicken, red potatoes, grapes, and biscuits. Well, since I moved to Chicago just over a year ago – so many things in my life changed including my eating habits. Vegetables are my biggest food group now – who knew?! I have always been an animal lover and feel terrible eating meat but it is really hard to give up. I am slowly weening myself off of meats and trying to stick to fish right now. Stay tuned!!
 
In the mean time, I had a low-key weekend (the last one until the end of September!!) and I wanted to test some new recipes to share. One of my sweet weaknesses is peanut butter cookies – I never liked them growing up because Big Brother D is highly allergic to peanuts so we had to be very careful but I have grown to love peanut butter a lot. Give these a try and let me know how they work out for you!! 🙂
 
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Ingredients

¾ tsp baking soda
3 tbsp flour (*I used all-purpose white)
¼ cup sugar (*trying to find a substitute – stayed tuned, friend!)
2 tbsp brown sugar
½ cup peanut butter (*I used the 365 brand from Whole Foods)
2 tbsp applesauce (*”I got the Motts“)
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
 

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Combine dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix well.
3. Add in the wet ingredients and mix well.
4. Roll into cookie balls and bake for about 8 minutes. They will look underdone when you take them out, but that’s how we like them right? 😉 They will be fine though, trust me.
5. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from tray and onto a cooling rack.
6. Enjoy!!
 
**This recipe will make about 16 cookies… maybe more, maybe less depending on how big you roll them – I ended up with a batch of 16. (If you make 16 cookies, each one will contain about 65 calories)

Pita Pocket Chicken Salad

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Happy Sunday, friends! I am trying really hard to find a good camera to document life and all of these good eats with you. I am also trying to add the recipe widgets but have not mastered that yet either – bear with me honeys 😅 In the mean time, pita pocket chicken salad anyone? 😋🥗

This is inspired by the Metabolic Diet Center I worked in my last two years at Penn State – I used to make them on the reg and I didn’t start making them for myself until now. What was I waiting for?! Better late than never. Packed with a combination of superfoods, this baby has everything you need to get through your day. Tastes pretty amazing too!

I prepare the chicken on Sunday (same way as this recipe 😊) and cut them into cubes, portioned out, and stored in the refrigerator.

You Will Need:
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp honey
3 green onions chopped into small pieces
4 cups chicken
1 cup halved purple grapes

Instructions:
1. Mix the honey and Greek yogurt
2. Mix in the onions, grapes, and chicken
3. Pour into a pita pocket (I am currently perfecting my own homemade pita pocket recipe, stay tuned 🤗)
4. Enjoy!!

Tasty Tuesday: Pork Plate

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You will need: