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Published: Sunday, 1/15/2006

Desktop diners should keep food safety in mind

BY KATHIE SMITH
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

Desks are doing double duty for more meals than lunch, according to a survey by the American Dietetic Association and the ConAgra Foods Foundation: 57 percent of survey respondents say they snack at their desks, and nearly one in three eats breakfast there, too.

Demands at the office make it almost impossible to think about proper food safety, says registered dietitian Jackie Newgent, spokesman for the Home Food Safety ... It s in Your Hands Program. As desktops replace kitchen tables as a place to eat meals, it s important to follow food safety steps at the office.

Prevent bacteria from spoiling desktop dining by supplying yourself with cleaning products such as antibacterial wipes, sprays, and paper towels at your desk. Wash your hands before eating.

As for sharing food in the workplace, be sure that perishable foods pizza, cold cuts, salads, and sandwiches don t sit out for more than two hours so that harmful bacteria does not multiply.

Stick to nonperishable snack foods such as bagels, pastries, whole fruit, cut-up veggies, and chips (but watch the dip).

If you work late, keep a drawer full of nonperishable foods such as peanut butter, shelf-stable pudding cups, whole fruit, popcorn, or dried fruit to keep your energy up safely.

If restaurant take-out or delivery is ordered, make sure leftovers are promptly stored in the office refrigerator within two hours, and write down the date on your take-out container. When reheating leftovers, heat the food to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

In its February issue, Saveur magazine named the Costco Birthday Cake among its Saveur 100, an array of culinary delights and the people who create them from around the world.

The cake is described as classic in looks and flavor, and cheap and good. The magazine s favorite is the moist white cake with buttercream frosting and cheesecake mousse filling. At $14.99 for 48 servings, it can be purchased at Costco stores nationwide

Health-conscious Americans have reduced fat, carbohydrates, and sugar as a result of diets, but most don t take salt consumption seriously, according to Tracey Carlyle, registered dietitian and spokesman for Mrs. Dash.

The 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines urged Americans to decrease sodium consumption to no more than 2,300 mg per day. Currently, Americans consume more than 4,000 mg per day. Salt is a major risk factor for developing stroke and heart disease, a leading cause of death for women.

According to the February issue of Consumer Reports magazine, organic products worth buying to avoid chemicals found in the conventionally produced versions include apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, spinach, and strawberries. Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are also worth seeking out.

Among the organic products worth buying only if price is no object are produce items such as cauliflower, sweet corn, broccoli, mangos, and sweet peas.

Organically labeled items not worth buying include seafood and cosmetics. Whether caught in the wild or farmed, fish can be labeled organic despite the presence of any mercury or PCBs.

The magazine found indiscriminate use of synthetic ingredients and violations of the food-labeling standards in organic labeled-cosmetics. (Cosmetics follow the same standards as food.)

The richness of walnuts combined with the sweetness of pears and raisins makes this Baked Walnut Stuffed Pears a perfect dessert or breakfast.

4 pears, ripe and firm

1/4 cup raisins

3 tablespoons

chopped walnuts

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup light corn syrup

Peel the pears, leaving stems on. Core the pears on the blossom end (the bottom). ─ęCombine raisins, walnuts, sugar, and lemon juice in a small bowl and mix well. Fill the cavity of each pear, dividing the filling equally. Place pears upright in a deep baking dish, preferably with a cover. Mix together the water and corn syrup and pour into the baking dish. Cover the dish with its lid (or foil) and bake in preheated 350- degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the pears are easily pierced with a fork. Serve warm or cold with some of the syrup spooned over each pear.

Source: Marion Cunningham for the Walnut Marketing Board.



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