FOOD PROFILE No Asparagus Aspersions The bright, kelly green color of the long, thin stalks of asparagus stand out on any plate, but it’s not just the color of this spring vegetable that makes it a winner. The number of ways in which asparagus can be prepared, its delicate flavor and its powerful health benefits are just three reasons why it should grace your home (and maybe even school) menu more often. There’s a lot you probably don’t know about asparagus. For example, green isn’t the only color that you’ll find asparagus wearing; it’s simply the most common. White asparagus frequently is available canned, but is showing up fresh in supermarkets more frequently; purple asparagus sometimes turns up, as well. These unusual colors are a bit higher in sugar than the standard green variety, but only slightly—the health benefits of asparagus as a whole outweigh any pesky grams of natural sugar. These benefits include stuff you know you need, such as fiber, folate and vitamins A, C and E, as well as things you might not know about—glutathione, for one, which helps breaks down carcinogens and free radicals, plus other antioxidants that might slow the aging process, according to some researchers. When you can get your hands on it, asparagus is best prepared and eaten simply. If you have fat stalks, get rid of the woody ends by bending the asparagus and allowing it to break naturally (thin stalks need no special treatment). From there, asparagus can be steamed, grilled, roasted or sautéed. Try it roasted, spreading the stalks across a baking sheet and drizzling them with extra virgin olive oil. Garlic, lemon juice or Parmesan cheese are other optional seasonings, adding nice variety. Roast the asparagus at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks—you’ll know it’s done when the tips are browned. The crunch of the roasted variety just might be enough convert the most ardent hater of asparagus out there! SEASONAL HEALTH Get Ready to Slather! Are you sick of hearing about the importance of sunscreen every year? We wouldn’t harp on it so much if it just wasn’t so darn important—and, frankly, even the most health-conscious can forget to pack a bottle when attending a Fourth of July barbecue or mid-summer beach trip. So, here’s your annual PSA: Use sunscreen! Men, we really want you to listen up here. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), nearly twice as many American men died from melanoma—a deadly form of skin cancer—as women did in 2009, and just 34% of men regularly wear sunscreen, compared to 78% of women. The most hazardous time of day for ultraviolet ray exposure in the continental United States is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Just because it’s cloudy doesn’t mean you don’t need sunscreen, as the rays manage to get through the clouds to wreak havoc on your skin just the same. Which sunscreen is best? Let’s take a closer look at the specs. What’s Necessary: Retail stores have dozens of sunscreen options available. Bypass the fancy packaging or claims on the front of the bottle, and turn straight to the ingredients—look for brands that contain the active ingredients zinc oxide, avobenzone and Mexoryl SX, all of which protect from UVA radiation. If you’re pulling a bottle out of your bathroom drawer, look at the expiration date. Generally speaking, sunscreen is good for three years—but not if it’s been exposed to high temperatures, such as sitting in your beach bag under the hot sun. Unless you know you bought that bottle recently, toss it and pick up a new one. Finally, when you’re actually applying the sunscreen to your body, the old mantra “less is more” does not apply. Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen to protect their skin, so cover your skin thoroughly and massage it in. This will protect your skin for about two hours—or less if you’re swimming or sweating, which means you should reapply every hour. What’s Not: Don’t be taken in by marketing gimmicks. An SPF higher than 50 won’t protect you for any longer, so stick to anything from 15 to 50. Additionally, some manufacturers tout an addition of vitamin A, which the EWG says doesn’t necessarily help protect you from sun— and it might actually harm you. For now, skip any product that contains retinyl palmitate, retinol or vitamin A. Additionally, a spray sunscreen— though convenient—might not be the best choice (and not just because those bottles tend to drain within a few applications). According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the Food and Drug Administration is still investigating the risk of inhaling these sprays as you coat yourself, so never spray them near your face or mouth. AAD also cites the challenge of truly knowing if you’ve covered yourself adequately. For reassurance, go the old-school route and use a cream style. Other Ways to Protect Yourself: Sunscreen is just one line of defense. Wear clothing that covers your skin, including long-sleeved shirts, pants or hats. Try to stay in the shade, whether it means toting an umbrella or setting up camp under a leafy tree. And, of course, don’t forget those sunglasses—you might consider them a fashion accessory, but your eyes need them to stay healthy from the sun’s rays, too. For more information on sun damage, sunscreen and the best ways to protect yourself, visit the American Academy of Dermatology at www.aad.org. WHAT IS…? Understanding Emulsions There’s an old saying, “like oil and water,” used when two things simply don’t mix well with each other. You might not have realized it, but that idiom also is the definition of an emulsion, a scientific term describing the suspension of two liquids within each other than would not typically combine. Oil and water, when blended together, form an emulsion. Others that you come across almost daily in the kitchen or grocery store include vinaigrettes and mayonnaise, along with less-common recipes such as Hollandaise sauce. Here’s a fun fact: Milk is a natural emulsion! Because the main ingredients of these recipes—olive oil and vinegar for a vinaigrette; oil and vinegar or lemon juice for mayonnaise; fat droplets and water in milk—won’t naturally mix together, they will re-separate at some point. (To a certain extent, that’s why you often must shake up a bottle of salad dressing just before pouring and serving.) To prevent this separation in an ingredient like mayonnaise, you need an emulsifying agent to create a chemical bond between the two liquids that keeps them from separating. In mayo and Hollandaise, this is an egg yolk. In milk and butter (another emulsion), it’s the protein casein. In a vinaigrette, mustard bonds the oil and vinegar. (If you want vinaigrette to be made only of oil and vinegar, you will have a “temporary emulsion,” as it will revert quickly to its natural state.) Knowing the science behind the process can help you rectify the situation when your homemade salad dressing just won’t stay together. Simply add some ground dry mustard, and whisk away— your vinaigrette will be ready to serve in no time. VOLUNTEERING Help Yourself, Help Others Between your job, your family and your social life, fitting in time to volunteer may seem nearly impossible. However, you might just want to make some time to help out around your community, as research shows that people with a deep sense of purpose—often seen in passionate volunteers—may gain a health advantage. The study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, determined that adults who were happy because of a sense of purpose and meaning, exhibit lower levels of inflammation, as well as stronger antiviral and antibody genes. On the other hand, those whose happiness comes from self-gratification had higher levels of inflammation and weaker antiviral and antibody genes. Other research has found a 22% lower mortality rate, as well as lower rates of depression, among committed volunteers. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time for yourself, whether it’s turning off your cell phone for a quiet afternoon or indulging in a moderate bit of “retail therapy.” But the deep satisfaction associated with volunteering—in a way that fulfills your sense of purpose and doesn’t become one more thing to do during the week—could heal soul and body! You’re already committed to feeding hungry children, but there may be other issues that speak to your heart. Disease awareness? Animal welfare? Environmental issues? Literacy? The arts? Dig in and find a charity that resonates and offer to help in any way that feels comfortable. This might range from data entry work in an office to one-on-one client work to fundraising and leadership. Consider what might be the best time commitment; maybe it’s a one-time event or a monthly shift. Guard against over committing, as you don’t want this to become another source of stress! Not quite sure where to start? Visit www.volunteermatch.org, a website that matches organizations with volunteers. Check with local service agencies and associated businesses or organizations (like an area hospital or veterinary clinic), as well as the school district and public library. Enter to WIN Go for the Grill With summer around the corner, it’s time to get grilling, and a grill recipe of your creation could win you big prizes! Enter a small plate or appetizer dish in Dole’s “California Cook-off” Recipe Contest; it must contain at least one cup of specified Dole products, must not contain more than 10 additional ingredients and must be able to be prepared and served within 60 minutes and prepared on a gas grill. Three finalists will be selected to participate in the cook-off in June in Los Angeles; at the cook-off, one grand-prize winner will receive $25,000, and the two runners-up each will receive $1,000. You also can enter for a chance to be a cook-off judge! Entries must be submitted by May 19, 2014. To enter or for more details (including the products eligible for recipe entries), visit www.dole.com/cookoff. The Big Cheese Submit an original grilled cheese recipe and photo featuring Wisconsin cheese, and you could win the $10,000 grand prize in the Grilled Cheese Academy’s Grilled Cheese Recipe Showdown. Entries must be received by May 12, 2014. To enter or for more information, visit www.grilledcheese academy.com. Want to be a Waffle Winner? Share your original waffle recipe—it can be a breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner or dessert—on the “Eggo™ Your Way” Contest Facebook page to be eligible to win a grand prize of $10,000! Two finalists each will receive $2,500, and eight weekly winners each will receive a year’s supply of Eggo waffles. Each submission will be judged on originality, taste appeal and visual appeal. The deadline to enter is May 26, 2014. To enter or for more details, visit www.facebook.com/Eggo. Sensationally Sweet Are you sweet on sweet potatoes? Enter your favorite recipe in the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission and Louisiana Cookin’s 2014 Sweet Rewards recipe contest. A winner in each of five categories—Fresh Sweet Potatoes, Canned Sweet Potatoes, Frozen Sweet Potatoes, Culinary Student and Professional Chef—will win $500. A grand-prize winner will be selected to receive $1,000. The deadline to enter is June 1, 2014. To enter or for more information, visit www. louisianacookin.com/LACSweetRewards 2014.html. NutrıNET Cooking Matters® www.cookingmatters.org/Educational-Tools Want to teach kids and families to love healthy food? The Cooking Matters® program, part of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign, offers resources to help kids build the skills they need to make healthy food choices. Along with guidebooks and toolkits, the site also features downloadable kid-friendly activities and recipes, and a free app featuring more than 90 recipes is available for iOS and Android devices. Team Nutrition http://tinyurl.com/usdawellnessresources Team Nutrition has updated its online resources portal to help you find the tools you need to implement the latest provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. From sample wellness policy language to successful food marketing practices, you’ll find best practice ideas for every aspect of creating healthy school environments. Suggestions for grants and funding opportunities are also available. Beef University www.beeffoodservice.com/beefuniversity.aspx Now available from The Beef Checkoff Program is a web-based platform to accompany its Beef University training program. The training program educates operators on beefrelated topics, including production, product quality, marketing and merchandising. New online tools include PowerPoint presentations, fact sheets and videos. Calendar14 May14 MAY 6-8 Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids National Invitational Leadership Summit, Culinary Institute of America San Antonio, (800) 888-7850 MAY 17-20 Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, National Restaurant Association Chicago, (312) 853-5765 June14 JUNE 9-11 Annual Leadership Summit, Menus of Change®, Presented by Culinary Institute of America and Harvard School of Public Health Department of Nutrition Cambridge, Mass., (707) 967-2416 JUNE 10-13 Annual Conference, United Fresh Produce Association Chicago, (202) 303-3400 JUNE 19-21 10th Annual Leadership Conference, Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFÉ) Salt Lake City, Utah, (410) 268-5542 JUNE 21-24 Annual Meeting and Food Expo, Institute of Food Technologists New Orleans, (800) 462-9440 JUNE 25-28 105th Annual Conference and Expo, American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences St. Louis, Mo., (703) 406-4600 July14 JULY 8-12 National Conference, National Association of College & University Food Services Baltimore, (517) 332-2494 JULY 10-12 Annual Conference, National Association of Elementary School Principals Nashville, (800) 417-0348 JULY 11-12 Annual Conference, National Association for Family Child Care Orlando, Fla., (801) 886-2322 JULY 25-27 Foodservice Conference and Expo, Produce Marketing Association Monterey, Calif., (302) 738-7100 Date BOOK May Beef Month National Egg Month National Hamburger Month National Mental Health Month National Salad Month Physical Fitness and Sports Month Herb Week (May 4-10) School Nutrition Employee Week (May 5-9) Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 11-17) National Women’s Health Week (May 11-17) School Lunch Hero Day (May 2) Cinco de Mayo (May 5) National School Nurse Day (May 7) Mother’s Day (May 11) Memorial Day (May 26) June Fireworks Safety Month National Dairy Month National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month National Great Outdoors Month Professional Wellness Month Student Safety Month National Sun Safety Week (June 1-7) Men’s Health Week (June 9-15) Balloon Flight Anniversary (June 5) Flag Day (June 14) Father’s Day (June 15) Recess at Work Day (June 19) International Surfing Day (June 21) Summer Begins (June 21) July Family Reunion Month National Blueberry Month National Grilling Month National Ice Cream Month National Make a Difference to Children Month National Watermelon Month Picnic Month Anniversary of First U.S. Zoo (July 1) Independence Day (July 4) Cow Appreciation Day (July 12) Culinarians Day (July 25)
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