Roanna Martin

"make [food] simple and let things taste of what they are." {Curnonsky}

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Sprouts Day 2

Day 2, and it’s time for a sprout update. There isn’t a whole lot of action, but subtle signs are starting to show…

Day 2

Day 2

I just finished giving my sprouts their second rinse for the day. Sproutpeople– a company I came across that has had a lot of experience in growing sprouts- recommends using water that is between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, and using a lot of water. Sproutpeople also doesn’t recommend the sprouter I have due to some functionality issues. But it’s been working just fine for me, and I don’t intend to go out and buy a brand-new one.

Rinsing sprouts 2-3 times daily gives them the proper moisture that they need to germinate and grow- creating the little nutritional powerhouses of protein, fiber, and antioxidants like vitamin C.

In addition, it is important to make sure that the water is drained off so that the seeds are not sitting in stagnant water to prevent growth of pathogenic microbes such as Salmonella or E. coli O157:H7.  Any food you eat could be potentially risky, so I simply recommending that you make sure to rinse regularly and follow basic kitchen hygiene. Because of the potential for growth of these organisms, the very young, elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are recommended to avoid consuming raw sprouts.

Mung Bean

Mung Bean

You can see the little sprouts starting to burst through the casing. It’s just a little… but it’s a start!




You can’t see too much happening here with the alfalfa seeds, but just wait another day or so.



And the broccoli has begun bursting out pretty rapidly.

All of the seeds have definitely swollen since last night.

I keep the sprouter in the middle of my kitchen. There isn’t very much natural light available, but they seem to do just fine. 

Note: Sprouts were featured in the Food and Nutrition Magazine by a few other dietitians last year if you feel like checking out what they had to write.



Food Safety During Power Outages

I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and talk about what everyone else has been talking about the past few days: Sandy. The “frankenstorm” that hit the northeast, leaving millions without power, has also hit the home where I live.
I woke up early yesterday morning to peek outside before reporting to the hospital for work, and being the snow-bunny that I am, my eyes were delighted with what they saw.
Before the busy-ness of the day started, I took a few moments just to savor the glorious white of the powdery film on the trees.  When I was little I would wake up EARLY on two hour delays to go out and play in the snow, and I am still a big fan of winter activities: cross country skiing and ice skating being at the top of the list. So although I’m not quite accustomed to a snowstorm at the end of October, I wasn’t completely opposed.
Then a resounding “CRACK” and a faint flash captured my attention. A limb fell in the front yard, and the “host dad” that I’m staying with attributed the flashes to exploding transformers.
The reality of a storm isn’t always pretty. And this is a record-breaker- I don’t have to pull together the stats for you- it’s all over the news.
And I’m sure it’s hit home for a lot of my readers, considering how widespread it was!
When refrigerator and freezer units lose power, temperature will rise, bringing food into the danger zonewhere bacteria  grow most rapidly.

Here are some recommendations from the USDA for after a power outage:

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
  • The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours unopened, and a full freezer can maintain temp for about 48 hours (24 hours if half full) and you keep the door closed.
  • The following perishable foods should be discarded after 4 hours without power:
    • meat
    • poultry
    • fish
    • soft cheeses
    • milk
    • leftovers
    • deli items
  • Food can be safely refrozen if it still has ice crystals, or is lower than 40 degrees Farenheit.

My recommendation is that if you have some meat that has thawed  to just above 40 and your power has come back on, go ahead and cook it up, and then quickly chill and refreeze it. It’s no different than if you had intentionally been defrosting meat to cook.
Here’s a picture of the fridge- which was without power for more than 4 hours. The only things we left in the fridge were things that don’t really need to be stored below 40 degrees, such as carrots, bread, apples, condiments, etc (and my “host dad’s” bottled Starbucks cappucino!).

If the weather is less than 40 degrees outside, and you have a safe place to keep food where animals won’t get to it- you can set food outside for a short while (This statement is not taken from the USDA- this is my own common sense speaking).
And what exactly does one eat during a power outage? Well, last night we fired up the grill for some fantastic turkey burgers, and the grill even has a gas burner so we were able to cook up some green beans, and finish off the lettuce that was in the fridge.
Don’t take any chances- never taste food to test safety. If in doubt, throw it out!

Food safety recommendations courtesy of the WVU Extension Service.

ps. To write this post I visited a nearby Panera (we’re still without power!), and a lot of others here are without power as well. For example, there’s a little 4-year-old girl singing a song about “Susy has power”… And there’s a long line- I don’t usually go out to eat during the week, but the staff are yelling “No more potato soup!” Everyone’s ready for some hot and tasty food, and a warm place to enjoy it.

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Food Safety: From Soil to Plate

Locally sourced meats and seafood, and locally grown produce are the top 2 hot menu trends for 2012, according to the National Restaurant Association. It’s a great trend which helps to decrease the number of miles food travels from where it is grown to the point of consumption. I fully support buying local food, but it’s also important to remember some basic safety tips when purchasing and preparing the food.

One of the other interns and I put together a bulletin board describing some of current practices for the hall of the Ag Sciences building where our Division is housed. We split the board into two sections: “On the Farm”, and “Before It Hits the Plate”.

Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) and Good Handling Practice (GHP) audits, set up by the USDA, are voluntary third-party certifications that purchasers (i.e. restaurants) often want in order to know that the producer is growing food safely. Although the products are not guaranteed to be free from microbial contamination, the producer has taken proactive measures to prevent such contamination. 

The audits include simple things such as examining the quality of irrigation water, proper use of animal manure for fertilizer, and cleaning product storage and packing areas regularly.

 More information on the specifics of these audits can be found here

After a restaurant purchases food, there are some basic food safety principles that should be adhered to.

  • Begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded. 
  • All produce should be thoroughly washed before eating. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking.
  • Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below.
  • Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.