Safety

Turkey Talk: The Ins and Outs

By Bonnie Dunn, Tabitha Surface and Robin Turner, Extension Agents

Thanksgiving is a time for good food and drink with family and friends, but the common centerpiece of the holiday dinner – especially Thanksgiving – is turkey. And while delicious, turkey does have its own set of preparation steps that must be carefully followed to ensure it is cooked appropriately. Here are a few guidelines that will ensure all your guests remain happy and healthy during your “turkey day” festivities.

Thawing: There are a few ways to thaw a turkey, but the best is to thaw it in the refrigerator. This will allow the turkey to thaw at the proper temperature, which also slows the growth of harmful bacteria. If you must use water to thaw your turkey, make sure the water is cold and drain it frequently to maintain the cold temperature.

Next, remember the letters “CSCS!” when the real turkey prep begins: Clean – Separate – Cook – Clean Up.

Clean: Wash hands, utensils, surfaces, and fruits and vegetables. Do not wash the turkey or eggs.

Separate: Keep all the meats separated from other food items by using separate cutting boards, utensils and towels. Wash your hands when switching from one utensil or recipe to another. Keep a sink full of clean, soapy, hot water to wash your hands as you are preparing each recipe. This ensures that no cross contamination occurs.

Cook: Yay! It is time to put the turkey in the oven. Try these helpful hints for a safe, delicious holiday!

  1. For a quick clean-up, purchase a turkey cooking bag at your local grocery store. This not only saves time on cleaning but also makes for a more moist and flavorful dinner.
  2. When stuffing is cooked inside the turkey, it is more moist and flavorful, but it absorbs some of the fat from the bird, so keep that in mind when calculating your caloric intake.
  3. Stuffing can be a source of foodborne illness, especially if placed inside the bird. Make sure all cutting boards, spoons, bowls and hands are very clean when preparing the mixture. Never stuff the bird before you are ready to bake it. Do not pack the cavity tight as the center may stay at the “temperature danger zone” too long.
  4. Baking stuffing separately from the turkey is safer and produces a lower-calorie side dish. If the stuffing is made early in the day, mix it very quickly and place in a prepared baking dish. Cover tightly and refrigerate immediately. When ready to bake, remove it from refrigerator and place directly into the preheated oven. Test to make sure the stuffing has heated all the way through before serving

 Clean up: Do not leave your Thanksgiving dinner out on the table beyond two hours after having taken it from the oven/stovetop to the table.

If you want to cook your turkey unstuffed, add extra flavor by placing the following items in the cavity of the turkey: one celery rib, one onion cut in half, and one whole carrot. Otherwise, try our Healthy Holiday Stuffing recipe below.

 

Healthy Holiday Stuffing:
Serves 8

Ingredients
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cup de-fatted turkey broth or 1 cup low-sodium non-fat chicken broth
1 cup sliced raw mushrooms
1 8-oz. package of seasoned stuffing mix
Non-stick cooking spray

Directions

  1. Wash, peel and finely chop carrots, celery and onion. Place in a medium saucepan with broth and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat down and simmer for 5 minutes.
  1. Slice mushrooms. Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat. Remove from heat briefly and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Return to heat and add mushrooms to saute.
  1. Place stuffing mix in large bowl. Add mushrooms and vegetables in broth. Toss lightly with a fork.
  1. Spray baking dish lightly with cooking spray. Spoon stuffing into baking dish. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 325 degrees.
  1. If you choose to stuff your turkey, be sure to do it loosely.

Nutritional Values
Calories: 120
Sodium: 387 mg
Carbs: 25 g
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 1 g

Exchanges:
1 starch/bread and
1 vegetable

 

For additional information refer to: CDC Thanksgiving Food Safety

 

 

 

Keeping Safe in the Winter Months

By Krista Farley Raines, Regional Communications & Marketing Director, American Red Cross – West Virginia Region

Winter weather has finally arrived in the Mountain State, blanketing the region in beautiful – but potentially hazardous – snow. To help you better prepare yourself for winter emergencies, our friends from the American Red Cross West Virginia Region are guest blogging a two-part series about winter weather safety procedures for your home and your car. (Part two will post later this week.)

The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters every year in this country. No one hears about the vast majority of these emergencies — the home fires that affect a single family, many of whom escape with only the clothes on their backs. Heating sources are the second leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase during the winter months. In addition, the National Fire Protection Association states that half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February.

Here are some ways you can stay safe during this winter season:

  1. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  2. Test the batteries in your smoke alarms once a month, and change them if they’re not working.
  3. Create an escape plan that includes two exits from each room and practice it until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes.
  4. Follow the “three feet” rule and keep children, pets and flammable items at least three feet from heating equipment. Turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room and when you go to sleep.
  5. Use gas wisely and never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home. Four percent of Americans admit to having used a gas stove to heat their home.
  6. If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  7. Never use a generator indoors, even in a garage, carport, basement or crawlspace. Fumes from the generator can be deadly.

If you would like the Red Cross to install free smoke alarms in your home and assist in developing a fire escape plan please call 1-844-216-8286 to schedule an appointment. To learn more about winter safety, visit redcross.org.

Snow Shoveling Safety

By Derrien Williams, Extension Agent

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Okay, some of you may be singing that tune, but I’ll confess: I’m not! Fortunately, it’s been a mild December so far in West Virginia, with temperatures on some days rising into the 70s. But, as it always does, winter – and snow – will come. And with snow comes one of those dreaded winter requirements: snow shoveling.

For many of us, the sight of snow falling is often a calming experience. It can be exciting if you are a student, because it increases the chances of a snow day. But, if you had parents like mine, then you didn’t get to sleep all day. You had the job of shoveling the snow off the driveway, sidewalks and sometimes for neighbors who weren’t able to shovel it themselves.

The good news is, shoveling snow is a great way to burn calories! Shoveling snow for an hour can burn anywhere from 300-500 calories. But, you should proceed with caution before you pick up that shovel. Snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries and as many as 100 deaths each year nationwide. And, there’s the cold factor. Cold weather can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can make blood clot more easily and constrict arteries, which decreases blood supply.

No matter what type of shape you are in, you may want to work up to it. Some tips include warming up inside, incorporating some hamstring stretches and core-strengthening exercises. In addition, shovel small amounts of snow at a time, especially if the snow is heavy and water-laden. Shovel for 5 or 10 minutes, and then go back inside for 10 minutes to do more stretching.

Additional recommendations include:

  • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking.
  • Shovel only fresh, powdery snow; it’s lighter.
  • Push the snow rather than lifting it.
  • If you do lift it, use a small shovel or only partially fill the shovel.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Do not work to the point of exhaustion.

So, before you pick up the shovel, please remember these tips to ensure safe removal of snow and to prevent injury this winter season.