Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Circular 293: Cake and Mix Recipes for High Altitudes in New Mexico

Circular 293: Cake and Mix Recipes for High Altitudes in New Mexico Revised by Carol Turner (Retired Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist, Department of Extension Family and Consumer Sciences) http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_circulars/CR293.pdf

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Food Safety for the Latino Community During “Navidad” (Christmas) and “Fin de Año” (End of the Year)

The holidays are a time when Latinos celebrate religious, social, and family traditions passed down from generation to generation. Latinos celebrate Navidad and the farewell to the old year with joy and wishes for prosperity in the New Year. House parties and traditional foods are popular during this transition period. But it is also during this time of the year when you could make your family and guests sick if you don’t follow basic food safety steps.
While we’re sure you all have your favorite traditional recipes, we have a few recommendations to keep in mind while preparing those mouthwatering dishes passed down from our “abuelas” (grandmothers). Here are some tips to help hosts and guests eat safely at holiday parties.
Before you start, always wash your hands before you start preparing foods following these simple steps: wet your hands, lather with soap, scrub for at least 20 seconds, rinse with clean water, and dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them; skipping this step is a top cause of foodborne illnesses.
Wash cutting surfaces, and utensils. Always serve food on clean plates and avoid using those previously holding raw meat and poultry. Otherwise, bacteria that may have been present in raw meat juices can cross contaminate the food to be served. Replace empty platters instead of adding fresh food to a dish that already had food in it. People's hands may have been touching the dish while taking food from it, or the dish could also has been sitting out at room temperature too long. Use clean utensils to serve food plates and not those used in preparation of the raw food.
Separate raw and cooked foods so you don't cause cross contamination. That is, transferring bacteria from raw food onto ready-to eat food. For example, if you are preparing a ham and raw veggies for a dip platter, don’t let the raw meat come in contact with the vegetables, or food that does not require further cooking such as sliced, cooked meat and cheese.
Use a food thermometer to make sure food reaches a safe internal temperature. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality reasons, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. And keep in mind: If you're transporting hot, cooked food from one location to another, keep it hot by carrying it in an insulated container. Need more information about food thermometers, visit FSIS.gov.
Chill leftovers within two hours of cooking. Keep track of how long items have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything out longer than two hours. You never want to leave perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles in the “Danger Zone” over two hours. The danger zone is between 40 and 140 °F where bacteria multiply rapidly. After two hours, enough bacteria may have grown in your food to make partygoers sick. Exceptions to the danger zone include ready-to-eat items like cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruit.
No one wants to end a family gathering or a “fiesta” in the emergency room of a hospital, but that’s what could happen if food isn’t handled, served, and store safely. Bacteria are party crashers, and the only holiday gift they bring is foodborne illness.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Outdoor Decorating Safety

Whether you are turning your yard into Santa’s Workshop or stringing a few lights around your cozy cottage, neighborhoods full of twinkling lights are a staple of holiday cheer. But before you dazzle onlookers, make sure you are aware of the precautions you need to take in order to light up the night safely.

Ladder Safety

There are unfortunately thousands of injuries every year due to improper ladder use. Ladders should extend at least 3 feet above your roof or the surface you are attaching lights to. Never stand on your toes or the top rung of the ladder. If you have to do this, the ladder is not tall enough for your purposes. The second rung from the top is as high as you should climb on a step ladder.
For extension ladders, use the 4-to-1 Rule: for every four feet of distance between the ground and point of contact (such as the roof), move the base of the ladder out one foot. You never want to stand higher than the fourth rung from the top on an extension ladder.
No matter what type of ladder you are using, make sure it is safe before you climb. Ensure the rungs are dry and clean and all locks are secure. Wear slip-resistant shoes and clothes that will not get in your way. While on the ladder, keep your body weight centered and do not overreach. Both your feet should be securely planted on the ladder at all times.

Light and Circuit Safety

Many people like to use lots of lights to create awe-inspiring holiday displays, but it is important to use caution when powering all these lights. Overloaded circuits and loose connections can cause shocks and fires. If you are purchasing new lights for decorating, go for LED lights which burn cooler than incandescent lights. An added bonus of LED is that they use less power, so your electric bill won’t take as big of a hit.
Only buy lights from a reputable, trustworthy company. Quality lights will also come with safety information from the manufacturer, which you should be sure to read and adhere to. Plan your lighting display around available light sockets, keeping in mind not to overload any sockets. Do not connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together.

When mounting lights, be sure they are supported and affixed in a way that does not harm the insulation wrapping the wire. Only use lights that are specifically designed for outdoor use outside. These lights should be plugged in to a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupting outlet (GFCI). You can tell an outlet is a GFCI outlet because it will have “Test” and Reset” buttons on it. These outlets cut the current if it detects moisture or detects that the current is getting too hot. Once the conditions are corrected, you can press the “Reset” button and the lights should work properly again. Always unplug lights before you leave the house or go to sleep to prevent them from overheating.

Thanksgiving Travel 2015

Thanksgiving Safety

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year, and it’s even more fun when everyone is safe. Raw turkey, cooking appliances, and busy kitchens can sometimes lead to unfortunate Thanksgiving mishaps. Here are some Thanksgiving safety tips to ensure a safe and delicious holiday.

Food Safety

To make sure the food you serve at Thanksgiving is safe for your family, a little bit of preparation and forethought is required. Fresh (or unfrozen) turkey should not be in your fridge for more than two days, so don’t buy too early.

Thawing Turkey

If your turkey is frozen, you will need to plan ahead so it can thaw correctly. It is extremely important that meat is thawed safely; otherwise bacteria can grow in the meat which you will then ingest. DO NOT thaw a turkey at room temperature, as this is the ideal temperature for bacteria to grow.

Fridge Thawing

The best way to thaw frozen meat is in the fridge, or at a temperature of 40°F. It will take about 1 day for every 5 pounds to thaw a turkey in the fridge, (e.g. a 15 pound turkey will take 3 days to thaw) so plan accordingly. You also don’t want to move it into the fridge too early, as you don’t want it to sit unthawed for more than a day.

Cold Water Thawing

Oops, did you forget to plan ahead and find yourself with a frozen turkey the day before Thanksgiving? There is a quicker thawing method, but it takes a bit more work. You can thaw a turkey by immersing it in ice cold water, replacing the water every 30 minutes to keep it ice cold. If the water gets too warm, bacteria can start to develop on the outside of the meat. This method will take about 30 minutes per pound, so a 15 pound turkey will take 7-8 hours to thaw.

Cook From Frozen

Is it Thanksgiving day and your turkey is frozen? Well, go ahead and pop it in the oven. You can cook a turkey from frozen, but it will take considerably longer. A 15 pound frozen turkey cooked at 325°F will take about 6 hours to cook, which is about 2-3 hours longer than it would take if it were thawed out.

Cooking Turkey

Before cooking your turkey, you must first pull out the giblets, usually found in a bag inside the turkey. Then rinse the turkey inside and out. Then stuff the turkey if you cook it with the stuffing in, although some cook the turkey and add on the stuffing on the side.

These times are just guidelines. The safest way to make sure your bird is cooked is with a meat thermometer; the internal temperature should be 165°F.

Turkey Fryer Safety

Another option for cooking turkey is to fry it. This option is best for smaller turkeys; in fact you do not want to fry a turkey any larger than 14 pounds. Any larger and the skin will burn before the inside can cook. If you will have a lot of people to feed, fry two smaller turkeys.

Set up an area outside to do the frying. It should be a level and as open an area as possible. It will be useful to have a small table nearby for your supplies and seasonings. Place something non-flammable such as a plywood board under the burner to catch any oil that may splatter.

Kitchen Safety

In addition to preparing the turkey safely, there are some preparations that should be made to ensure a busy kitchen is also a safe kitchen on Thanksgiving.

Make sure all smoke detectors have working batteries.
Keep children away from hot surfaces and fryers
Clean any area that raw turkey may have touched, as well as any dishes, utensils, and your hands, with antibacterial cleaner.
Have a fire extinguisher on hand, especially if frying a turkey
This infographic will help you remember the most important safety tips covered in this article. Have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Holiday Travel Safety

We always see an increase in traffic around the holidays, but Thanksgiving remains one of the deadliest days for drivers. The bad news is that AAA predicts the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday season will see an increase in the number of cars on the road from last year. In fact, AAA believes there will be a 0.6% increase, adding some 300,000 cars on the road.
An estimated 46.9 million Americans will travel over 50 miles on this upcoming holiday weekend, which is being defined as November 25th through November 29th.
Here’s the good news: unemployment is shrinking, gas prices are the lowest they’ve been on Thanksgiving weekend since 2008, and many Americans are seeing an increase in their disposable income. However, this will likely create the most holiday travelers since 2007.
Some facts to keep in mind
  • Airfare has fallen in price
  • Hotel rentals have increased in price
  • Car rentals have increased in price
  • AAA predicts it will need to help 360,000 motorists over this upcoming holiday weekend
  • There are around 450 traffic fatalities each Thanksgiving Holiday
How to stay safe this Thanksgiving Weekend
Follow basic driving safety precautions
While these things are always important, they become even more so over a holiday often credited to being the deadliest for drivers. Remember to:
  • Wear your seatbelt
  • Drive the speed limit
  • Look both ways
  • Use your turn signal
  • Keep both hands on the wheel
Plan ahead
Aggressive driving tends to stem from foiled time expectations. Instead of worrying about making it on time, understand and remember that you will likely run into traffic while traveling over the holidays. Instead of getting frustrated when running into a traffic jam, be prepared for one. Give yourself a good cushion of time and leave early. This will help you make it on time despite delays as well as minimizing road rage. Remember that aggressive driving is responsible for 1/3 of all fatal car crashes.

Make sure your car is in optimal working condition
If you’re planning a long or short road trip over this Thanksgiving Weekend, then make sure your car is in good working order. At the very least, make sure your tires have the proper amount of air pressure and that your car’s battery is not low.
Have a designated driver
Drunk drivers are always a threat, but holiday weekends tend to bring more than the usual amount out onto the roadways. The best way to prevent drinking and driving is by not drinking, but the second best way is to have a designated driver. If you plan to go to a party, make sure you plan how you will get home safely as well.
Driving defensively
Always a good idea, driving defensively can help you make it to and from your holiday destination. Remember that aggressive driving is not personal, even if it may seem so at times. Remember that everyone has the right to drive on the road and that preventing someone from getting over, speeding, or cutting someone off is not worth risk.
Focus on the road
Nine Americans die every day on average in distracted driving related incidents. This number is likely to spike when driving over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. That’s why it’s important to stay focus on the road at all times. Do not search for loose items, text, program your GPS, or daydream while driving. Help keep the roads safe by staying focused with both hands on the wheel while driving.
While some of this information may seem obvious, it doesn’t change the fact many people who read this or similar information will ignore it despite the fact it could save a life.  Holidays are a great time to see family and friends, but they also increase the dangers of driving. So, over this 2015 Thanksgiving holiday remember to drive wisely and come home safe

Thanksgiving Safety and Fun Facts

Monday, November 23, 2015

Turkey Safety Tips

We now declare this National Turkey Thawing Day, when frozen turkeys up to 20 pounds should be moved out of the freezer and into the refrigerator. That means most of them.
Have you moved yours yet?
If that bird is bigger than 20 pounds, you're running out of time to get it easily thawed by Thanksgiving. You're also running out of the safest options.
No other holiday meal hands us the same challenge, cooking one of the most beloved – and largest – pieces of protein we see all year. On this day, different rules may apply.
Here are seven tips to keep your holiday food safe:
1. Wash your hands. You know the drill: Warm water, lots of soap, scrubbing while you say the entire alphabet. Make your helpers do it, too. And do it all over again after touching raw meat. Or your dog and cat.
2. Thaw smartly. Here's what the U.S. Department of Agriculturerecommends for refrigerator thawing times: 5-6 days for turkeys 20-24 pounds; 4-5 days for 16-20 pounds; 3-4 days for 12-16 pounds; 1-3 days for 4-12 pounds. There are cold-water thawing methods (see previous USDA link), but some can take a half-day. Microwaving is dicey. Some say only the smallest birds (up to 12 pounds) can be thawed safely in the microwave. Check your machine's manual, but it's usually 60-90 minutes on defrost. Turkeys headed for the deep-fryer need to be defrosted properly because ice crystal can go ka-boom in hot oil.
3. Or don't thaw. Butterball says to unwrap a bird no bigger than 14 pounds, run cold water in cavities to remove inserts. Place on pan and in 325 degree oven. Tent with foil if breast gets too brown. Cooking times are not short, up to 6 hours for a 14-pounder. Get important details on the Butterball site and from a video at allrecipes.com.
4. Store properly. A defrosted turkey or a fresh turkey should spend no more than two days in the refrigerator before cooking. Place it in a pan, to prevent juices from contaminating other foods.
5. Don't rinse the bird. Sadly, nearly half of all meats, especially poultry from factory farms, can be contaminated with bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. It's estimated that rinsing can spread bacteria as far as three feet awayfrom the bird. Dry it, though, for a crispier skin. Disposable paper towels make good blotters. Clean counters, tools and hands thoroughly.
5. Cook properly. Consult a cooking-time chart, but be prepared for variations depending on the kind of pan you use, whether it's stuffed and whether you cover the bird. Here are times for unstuffed birds: 8-12 pounds (2 ¾-3 hours); 12-14 pounds (3-3 ¾ hours); 14-18 pounds (3 ¾-4 ¼ hours); 18-20 pounds (4 ¼-4 ½ hours); 20-24 pounds (4 ½-5 hours). A Consumer Reports study from last yearshowed those pop-up timers – and even those you buy on your own – are unreliable in both temperature directions. Go with an instant-read meat thermometer while you're roasting the deepest parts of the thigh and breast to a safe 165 degrees.
6. Store leftovers swiftly. Don't let good food go to waste by leaving it out too long. Two hours out of the oven is considered the limit for meats before refrigeration or freezing is needed. After 20 minutes of resting, that leaves only 1 hour and 40 minutes on the buffet. Three to four days in the fridge is also a cutoff time before you need to freeze leftovers. Sure, it all sounds bossy, but it's better than being bossed into the bathroom. Or the hospital. Stay thankful.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Heating your home safely

Heat safety As winter weather moves in, many people use fireplaces, space heaters, and other fuel-fired equipment to warm their homes. While alternative heating sources can make your home cozy, using them increases your risk of a home fire.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), heating is the second leading cause of home fires following cooking.

Taking simple steps can prevent a fire from happening in your home. The National Fire Protection Association and USFA offer these heating safety tips, including: 
·         Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater; 
·         Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room;  
·         Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters; and 
·         Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
For more ways to have a fire-safe home when the mercury dips, check out this USFA resource guide to share with family and friends. 

Deep Fryer Dangers

Thinking about what to prepare for your holiday feast? If your menu plans include deep frying a turkey, there’s important safety information to keep in mind.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. Keep your festivities from going up in flames; only use turkey fryers outdoors.

USFA wants to remind you of the dangers that exist when deep frying a turkey, including:
·         Turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot cooking oil over a large area;
·         A partially frozen turkey will cause cooking oil to splatter when put in the pot;
·         Even a small amount of cooking oil spilling on a hot burner can cause a large fire; and

The sides of the cooking pot, lid, and pot handles can get dangerously hot.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Healthy Baking Tips

Low Fat Tips
  • Cutting servings into smaller portions is sometimes all that’s necessary to lower fat consumption. (Check the Nutrition Guidelines included with each recipe for the fat amount in each serving.)
  • Search BettyCrocker.com for “lighter recipe” and “low fat”—you’ll find an archive of recipes lightened for conscientious bakers and cooks.
  • Use nuts in reduced amounts. When baking a cake, sprinkle nuts on top of the batter instead of stirring them in. The nuts toast as they bake, releasing more flavor—and there's no need for frosting!
  • Try Betty Crocker® 1-Step White Angel Food Cake mix—angel food cake is fat-free. Add fresh sliced strawberries for the finish.
Low Fat Substitutes
  • Applesauce and plain yogurt are good fat substitutes in most recipes. For maximum texture and flavor, replace no more than half the amount of the fat listed in the recipe. If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter, you can substitute 1/4 cup applesauce, saving 44 grams of fat and 400 calories (the fat and calories in 1/4 cup margarine)
  • Mashed ripe bananas work well as fat substitutes in carrot or banana cake or muffins.
  • Purchased fruit puree mixtures, usually prune—based, also are good and work especially well in chocolate, spice and carrot cakes. Follow the label directions.
  • Baby food in similar fruit flavors can be good as fat substitutes, too.
  • Replace 1 whole egg in a recipe with ¼ cup fat-free, cholesterol-free egg product substitutes (such as ConAgra’s Egg Beaters®) or 2 egg whites—you'll save more than 10 grams of fat and 100 calories.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Healthy Feet for People with Diabetes

 Every person with diabetes should have a complete foot exam at least  once a year. The exam should include:

·        Checking the pulses of your feet to see if there is a circulation problem.

·        Checking the nerve functions of your feet using a filament.

·        Evaluating any problems such as bunions, corns, athlete’s feet, fungal nails, ingrown toenails.

·        A discussion of of foot care. 

Take care of your feet every day:

·        Check your feet every day for sores, calluses, red spots, cuts, swelling, and blisters.  If you cannot see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone to check your feet for you.  

·        Call your health care provider, no matter how small your wound.  A small cut can quickly become large and infected.  

·        Do not cut calluses or corns yourself.  See your health care provider if cutting is needed.   

·        Wash your feet every day.  Dry them carefully, especially between your toes.

·        Use skin cream (but not between your toes) if your feet are dry.
·        Cut toenails straight across. File the edges so they are smooth.  If you have trouble reaching your feet, ask a family member to cut your nails.

·        Don’t walk barefoot.

·        Don’t smoke! Smoking cuts off blood flow.

Choose comfortable shoes that fit well:

·        Choose shoes with a low heel and plenty of room for your toes. 

·        Choose leather dress shoes; for everyday wear, walking or running shoes are a good choice.

·        Break in new shoes slowly.

·        Check inside your shoes for stones or other objects before putting them on.

·        Wear clean padded socks to protect your feet.

Keep your diabetes under control.  High blood sugar levels are behind most foot problems of people with diabetes.

Karen Halderson, MPH, RD, LD CDE Extension Diabetes Coordinator
Adapted from materials from the American Diabetes Associaton 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Kids & Diabetes: Tips and Tricks For Halloween

Halloween — the very word can send a shiver up the spines of children and parents alike, albeit for very different reasons. While the kids are probably looking forward to costumes and trick-or-treating, the parents are likely more concerned about the vast quantities of sugar their kids are going to amass and what it’s going to do to their blood glucose control. As the parent of a child with diabetes, you may be wondering how to approach this holiday. What do the medical experts advise? What do other parents do? What would your child like to do? For tips on how to approach Halloween, as well as answers to these questions, we asked medical professionals, parents of children with diabetes, and adults who were diagnosed as youngsters for their opinions and advice on celebrating All Hallows’ Eve.

Getting into the spirit

As with many things in life, much of the excitement of Halloween comes from the anticipation and preparation leading up to the day. Planning a party, choosing or creating a costume, picking out a pumpkin and carving a jack-o’-lantern, or making arrangements for a visit to a haunted house or a hayride are all good ways to get into the Halloween spirit. Susan Shaw, diagnosed with diabetes as a child, says that she “would encourage families to have rituals to celebrate Halloween that include carving the pumpkin, toasting and eating the pumpkin seeds, and bobbing for apples.” This way, she explains, everyone can join in the festivities, and no special arrangements need to be made for the child with diabetes.
Putting together a costume can be fun for everyone in the days leading up to Halloween. Although Kerri Morrone Sparling, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 6, remembers the candy from Halloweens past, recollections of the treats don’t hold a candle to her fond memories of the costumes. Your child may enjoy taking a trip to the store to select a costume or, for a more creative touch, gathering materials to create a homemade costume.

Trick or treat!

Trick-or-treating is an important part of the Halloween experience, and everyone we talked to agreed that a child with diabetes should not be denied the opportunity to engage in the same activities as the other kids in the family. Indeed, as Allison Nimlos, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 8, points out, the walking involved in this activity provides a healthy dose of exercise (and it may even make taking extra insulin for a small treat unnecessary).
Once the candy has been collected, there are a number of ways to handle the booty. Penny, mother of a young boy with diabetes, allows her son to pick out a few pieces of candy to eat when he gets home from trick-or-treating, covering the extra carbohydrate with a bolus from his insulin pump. He also gets a piece or two of candy for dessert several nights a week for one or two weeks, at which point any candy left over is thrown away. According to Penny, “I guess it would be a problem if Riley wanted to eat a ton of candy at one time. But for now, he’s satisfied if he gets a small piece of candy after supper.”
Since candy is high in sugar (and sometimes fat) but devoid of most other nutrients, this can be a good approach for siblings without diabetes, too. Kevin McMahon, fomer president of diabetes technology company Diabetech, has two daughters, one with diabetes and one without. After trick-or-treating, both girls choose a handful of their favorite sweets and then barter the remaining candy for a special prize such as a trip to the zoo. According to McMahon, “The girls don’t seem to mind, and they’ve bought into the fact that sweets aren’t the best choice anyway, whether you have diabetes or not.”
The use of carbohydrate counting should make it possible to incorporate occasional treats into your child’s meal plan with just a little extra planning. One option is to serve the candy instead of another carbohydrate-containing food, so the total amount of carbohydrate in the meal stays the same. (Consuming consistent amounts of carbohydrate from one day to the next can help with overall blood glucose control.) A second option is to adjust the premeal insulin dose according to how much carbohydrate will be eaten.
According to certified diabetes educator Gary Scheiner, if you opt to let your child have part of his candy haul, “you can manage blood glucose levels if you administer the right amounts of insulin at the right times. There is nothing about having diabetes per se that should force kids to not eat things that their peers are eating.”
Eating some candy can even be a good opportunity for teaching your child to take a more independent role in his diabetes management. According to Stephen Ponder, a physician and certified diabetes educator with Type 1 diabetes, partaking of the spoils of trick-or-treating “can be an opportunity for kids to learn some practical aspects of carbohydrate counting.” He added, however, that candy should not be a dietary staple, and he supported the idea of keeping a few pieces of Halloween candy to work into a child’s meal plan and throwing out the rest.
Dietitian Amy Campbell says that the trick to incorporating treats into your child’s diabetes meal plan is to know how much carbohydrate is in the candy and how much carbohydrate your child is allotted for a meal or snack. Because the nutrition information for snack-size candies is rarely printed on each individual candy, children can make a game of finding out how much carbohydrate each treat contains and labeling each accordingly (with masking tape or a small sticker). Company websites generally contain either product nutrition information or a phone number to contact customer service.
Parents of children who have celiac disease (an intolerance to gluten, the protein in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats) may also need to call companies to confirm whether candy is gluten free or encourage older children to start learning how to collect this information.
Bear in mind that the spoils of trick-or-treating should not be made available for continuous snacking. As noted by Scheiner, “‘Grazing’ tends to produce a prolonged post-meal high since the meal is virtually nonstop.” Instead, a piece or two of candy should be incorporated as dessert after a meal or as a snack, which can be covered by a bolus of insulin. For kids who don’t use an insulin pump, including treats in a meal or a regularly scheduled snack also limits the number of extra injections that may be needed to cover candy eaten at other times.
Pediatric nurse practitioner Jean Roemer supports the idea of allowing your child to pick 10 or so favorite candies from the bag and offers another suggestion for what to do with the rest: Auction it off to family members for spending money.
No matter which approach you take, one thing that is important is to make sure that your child with diabetes does not feel singled out. As Kelly Kunik, diagnosed with diabetes on Halloween at age 8, recalls, “We didn’t have carb counting back when I was diagnosed. My first night in the hospital, all the other kids were trick-or-treating, but I wanted no part of the special diabetes candy.” (It is worth noting that sugar-free versions of candy often contain more carbohydrate than their regular counterparts.) And according to Morrone Sparling, “It’s important to let the child with diabetes know that he isn’t ‘banned’ from treats, just that it requires a little extra planning and patience.”

We’re having a party

For parents who seek an alternative to trick-or-treating, a party, complete with Halloween-themed decorations and games, may be a good option. The following activities can get any party off to a spooky start:
  • Costume Fashion Show
    Set up a runway and play a compilation of Halloween music while the kids display their costumes. Hand out awards in different categories, such as scariest costume or best homemade costume.
  • Goo Relay
    Make some goo by mixing four parts cornstarch with one part water (adding some food coloring, if desired) until the concoction has a slimy consistency. Divide children into teams and line each team up about 20 feet from an empty bucket. At the word “go,” have team members take turns running a handful of slime from a container at the starting line to the bucket. The first team to fill its bucket wins.
  • Guess the pumpkin’s weight
    Have kids write their estimates of a pumpkin’s weight onto a slip of paper. The child with the closest guess wins a prize.
  • Silly telephone
    Arrange all of the children into a large circle. Have the first child whisper a silly message into the second child’s ear. See how the message has changed by the time it reaches the beginning of the circle.
For more Halloween-themed games, type “Halloween party games” into an Internet search engine such as Google.
Be sure to keep an eye on your child’s blood glucose levels if he is playing a game that requires a fair amount of physical activity: Getting more exercise than usual can lead to lower-than-expected blood glucose. On the other end of the spectrum, some children may experience very high blood glucose if they get scared by a particularly convincing costume or display at a haunted house.

Having a spooktacular time

There are as many ways to healthfully celebrate Halloween with diabetes as there are ghosts, ghouls, and goblins afoot on All Hallows’ Eve. By planning ahead and including your child in any decision-making, you can ensure a heck of a good time for everyone on Halloween. Just don’t forget to brush teeth and floss if there’s candy involved.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dealing with Tantrums

When our children throw tantrums it can be infuriating or even downright scary! Yet tantrums, ‘melt –down’ or  ‘wobblers’ are a  perfectly normal stage in our children’s development. And it’s reassuring to know that diffusing tantrums effectively and reducing their recurrence is often relatively straightforward.

Here is a sample of some of our easy and effective tools for solving this issue

This works really well:


  • Even if we think that our children can’t hear us over the sound of their own wails, it’s worth trying to get close to them just to let them know that we care.
  • Say to your child with empathy “I can see you are very upset…”.
  • However unnerving tantrums may be, we should try to provide a quiet, peaceful response (and atmosphere if possible) when they do occur.
  • At the same time, hold steadfast to your own rules and try hard not to ‘give-in’. In this way our children will learn that tantrums are not the way to get what they want.

Here is another suggestion:


  • Hugging almost always helps reassure and calm down distressed children.
    You can even call hugging ‘The Big Hug Time’ and refer to it whenever your child loses control.
  • For example. Tell your child “I’m going to hug you till you calm down because I love you and I don’t want you to hurt yourself or anyone else”.
  • If your child is really frustrated or upset, he or she may lose physical control, which may involve striking out at you or others. If you can get near your child without getting hurt, or without too much of a struggle, keep trying to hold him or her in your arms until the tantrum stops.
  • If your child is in a public place (for example in the middle of a supermarket!), you should lead him or her to a quiet place, such as the car or a rest room and keep him or her safe until the tantrum has ended.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How to Get your Kids to Help in the Kitchen

Kids who are given the opportunity to be involved in meal preparation are more likely to understand basic nutritional concepts that will form a foundation for the rest of their lives. Parents can be skeptical that their young kids can learn to cook but exposure to “scratch cooking” helps to develop a taste for fresh wholesome ingredients. Kids are also much more likely to eat what they make because cooking creates a sense of ownership. And meals prepared from scratch are usually much healthier than pre-packaged foods and restaurant meals. Here are some ideas on how to start cooking with your kids: Pick a good time. It’s important that your first cooking experience with children is a positive one, so pick a time when everyone is well-rested and not starving. Start with something familiar. When introducing the concept of cooking to kids, it’s important to start with one of their favorite dishes so that they equate cooking with something they already enjoy. Find assistants. Invite Grandma over or keep your sitter for an extra hour. It will be more fun for everyone if there is someone else to help oversee the project and clean up. Accept that it will get messy. Plan on some mess and you’ll feel less stressed. Kids are great cleaner-uppers so ask them to pitch in. Many kids, as young as 2 years old, love using a sponge and do a surprisingly good job of wiping up. Roll with the punches. If something goes wrong, just laugh. It’s a good opportunity to teach children how to shrug off mistakes and learn from their blunders. Praise their efforts. They adore making food for family members so give them lots of compliments when they complete a task well – genuine, well-deserved praise builds self-worth and confidence. Choose the right tasks. Plan ahead when deciding what to prepare. For younger kids, consider starting with a simple dish with few ingredients. These are additional suggestions for age appropriate activities. Measure and Pour: • Very young children can watch as you measure wet and dry ingredients, explaining the terms “cup,” “teaspoon,” and “tablespoon.” Once you level the dry ingredients, your child can pour them into a bowl. This is a great time to practice counting (to keep track of how many cups or teaspoons are already in the bowl). • As children get a little older, around 4 or 5 years old, you can start letting them pour or scoop ingredients into measuring tools. Teach them how to level dry ingredients by using the straight edge of a knife or metal spatula, and how to check liquid measurements at eye-level. • School-age children can continue to measure and count on their own, but this is also a good time to introduce conversions (i.e., 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons or 1½ cups = 3 half-cups) and measuring by weight. Stirring and Combining • Very young children can practice stirring batters and combining dry ingredients using a wooden spoon, a fork, or a spatula. • Preschoolers can start learning to use different techniques, including beating or whipping ingredients using a whisk or egg beater. When they stir ingredients together, teach them to scrape the sides to incorporate everything. • School-age children can begin using hand-held electric beaters and learning new techniques like folding when using airy ingredients. Preparing Ingredients • Even the youngest children can help with preparing ingredients by fetching things from the refrigerator, assisting with the salad spinner when you clean greens, and rinsing fruits and vegetables. • Preschool kids can start tearing lettuce for the salad, scrubbing potatoes to clean them, and cutting soft foods (like olives and strawberries) with a butter knife or dull plastic knife. They can also begin learning how to crack an egg. • Make sure school-age children are aware of knife safety before letting them use the “grown-up” knives. It’s up to you to determine when your child is ready for these serious tools, but peeling vegetables and cutting ingredients are great jobs for older kids. You can also start teaching culinary skills like mincing, chopping, dicing, and julienning. Another great skill to teach at this time is how to separate an egg. Just make sure you have extras! Cleaning up • Small children can help with clean up tasks by using a small brush or broom and handheld dustpan on the floor. They can wipe up spills on the counter, and put away clean flatware (great for practice in sorting!). • 4- to 5-year-olds can add to these cleaning skills by using spray bottles of nontoxic cleanser to spray the counter before wiping it clean. They can use brooms or Swiffers on the floor, and help with the dishwasher by filling the soap compartments and pushing the “start” button. • School-age children can begin washing dishes and loading the dishwasher. When the dishwasher is finished, they can put away things in the cabinets and drawers that they can reach. • For all ages, make sure to reinforce these skills and habits by making cleaning fun, praising kids for independence in the kitchen (even when they make a mess), and holding kids accountable. Setting and Serving • Young children can set out the silverware, put napkins in napkin rings, and carry their own bowls and cups to the table. • Preschoolers can set the table and pour drinks for the family and make place cards for holiday or event seating. • School-age children can help serve entrees and side items in addition to setting the table. Teach them which serving utensils are appropriate for different kinds of foods, and then begin letting them choose which one to use for each dish. Kids who help out in the kitchen and share family meals are creating lifelong memories that will influence the way they eat for the rest of their lives. What better incentive to make this a priority. Enjoy the time you have with your children, we all know that they grow up too fast.