How To Ensure You Get All of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids You Need

The 'buzz' about the benefits - for anyone and everyone - of getting enough Omega 3 fatty acids on a daily basis has been around for a while now. This is not a 'buzz' in the way that people get excited about the latest, not very well researched, diet pill or something of that nature. The benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids have been hugely researched across the globe and new health benefits are actually being proven all of the time.

The 'trick' is though ensuring that you do get all of the omega 3 fatty acids needed on a daily basis to reap all of the heart health, cholesterol lowering, stress busting, cancer fighting (and much more) benefits that they offer. Most of us mean to follow a healthy diet that is crammed full of all the right nutrients but actually doing so in practice in our busy lives is easier said than done! Here then are few great sources of omega 3s that are easy to incorporate into your daily diet and routine:

Omega 3 from Foods

Obviously not all foods contain omega 3s and of those that do some offer it in far higher quantities than others. According to a food study published in the health and fitness magazine Self the ingredient that offers the highest per serving dose of these highly beneficial fatty acids is flaxseed oil as it boasts a huge 12059mg of omega 3 fatty acids per serving. How can you add it to your diet, as it is not something that many people are familiar with? As a salad dressing is one easy way, just using it in place of the more common olive oil, or stirred into a healthy smoothie is another.

Other foods that offer a great many omega 3s in just a single serving include wild caught Alaskan salmon ( 3062mg ) walnut oil (2353mg) and even Chinese broccoli (2346mg). Check this impressive list of foods with Omega 3 for more examples.

Omega 3 from Dietary Supplements

As we have mentioned, incorporating the foods that are highest in omega 3s into a diet you eat every day can be hard as man (and woman) cannot live by salads, salmon and broccoli alone in order to eat a healthy balanced diet! That is where dietary supplements come into the picture.

The most commonly utilized dietary supplements providing Omega 3 in large doses are fish oil and krill oil. Fish oil is self-explanatory and krill oil is derived from tiny shrimp whose little bodies are packed full of the stuff. Cod liver oil capsules are also another great choice.

Not all supplements are created equal though. According to WedMD there are some things you should be looking for when choosing between the many such supplements that are on the market right now. These include:

  • Looking for a supplement that contains a minimum of 1,000 mg of omega-3 in every capsule.
  • Looking for a supplement that has enteric coating on the capsule as that significantly aids with faster absorption by the body.
  • Looking for a supplement that also contains Vitamin D. Vitamin D acts on omega 3s as a sort of 'superbooster' and as the only real source of natural Vitamin D is the sun many of us are lacking in the stuff anyway as we do not get a chance to spend too much time outside!
  • Looking for a supplement that has been checked and certified for purity. For example the IFOS (as in International Fish Oil Standards) are some of the most stringent in the world so if a supplement has passed their demanding criteria then that is a very good sign that you are making the right choice.

How - and When - to Get All of the Fruit You Need to Stay Healthy Everyday

Five servings of fruit and vegetables a day - at least - has been the common advice from dietitians and physicians for years now but just how can you manage to consume that much fruit in a day, especially if you have never been a big fan of it in the first place? And is it really that important or can you get the same nutrients elsewhere?

Why Fruit Matters

According to the USDA, fruits offer some very specific benefits that other types of food really cannot, or at least do not do so as well. One of the big advantages that fruit offers is that the vast majority of choices are naturally low in calories, contain very little sodium or fat and have zero cholesterol.

Those are all health benefits right there before you even begin to look at things like higher fiber counts (for improved digestion) high natural vitamin contents and even the presence of essential minerals that are difficult to obtain elsewhere. For example, a person who consumes too little potassium puts their health in serious jeopardy. According to WebMD such people risk high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive problems and even a stroke. One of the best sources of potassium? The humble banana and, to a lesser extent, citrus fruits as well.

Understanding Fruit Serving Sizes

Most people measure fruit serving sizes as 'one cup', including most government agencies such as the USDA. But how does that translate into actual fruit, so that you know you are getting enough fruit every day? Well, one medium sized banana counts as one cup. As does one medium sized mango, two average plums, a single apple, about 50 grapes and as long as it is all natural (and preferably organic) so does eight ounces of orange juice.

When and How to Incorporate Fruit into Your Daily Diet

Apart from simply packing a banana with the rest of your lunch or making your after dinner dessert a bowl of strawberries instead of a chocolate cake what other ways can you incorporate enough fruit into your diet? Making them a part of your early morning routine is a great, and very easy to implement idea. Most of us are very busy in the morning and often claim we simply do not have time to make and eat a healthy breakfast, even though we know we really should.

A fruit smoothie can solve all this problem and help you get the day off to an energetic start. All you need is a decent food processor or blender, ice and a decent stock of fresh fruit in the fridge. It can also be quite the culinary adventure to experiment with different fruit pairings to come up with new tastes that you love and it really will literally only take you two minutes! If you want to be even more adventurous you could try incorporating a few of those all-important veggies in a morning smoothie as well.

If you are the kind of person who has a tendency to reach for a mid-morning or mid afternoon snack as a pick me up why not try replacing those bad for your health (and your waistline) salty chips or sugary candy bars with dried fruit instead? Most supermarkets now stock all kinds of dried fruit options, many in little snack sized boxes, or you could even invest in a food dehydrator and make dried fruit from fresh produce yourself, allowing you to make use of the kind of really wonderful organically grown fruits that are becoming easier to find as the number of local farmer's markets increases.

Making the Most of Your Freezer and Frozen Foods

The freezer is perhaps one the most useful kitchen appliances that anyone owns (thanks very much Oliver Evans for inventing it) Thanks to the freezer families can bulk shop, saving both money and time and can even make meals ahead and freeze them so that even the busiest people can still enjoy a great weeknight dinner rather than having to fall back on fast food because they are pressed for time.

Although for the most part making great use of a freezer is easy there are some things that you should know about freezer and frozen food safety to ensure that everything that comes out of your freezer is in the best condition and of the highest quality possible. Here, thanks to BBC Good Food are some great tips for getting the most out of your freezer:

What Can't (or Shouldn't) be Frozen

The simple fact is that you can safely freeze almost anything, but there are a few exceptions. Eggs are not a good choice. If they are raw eggs the shells will crack making the eggs unfit for human consumption and if they are cooked they have a tendency to go rubbery. Mayonnaise based foods will not freeze well either as it will separate and curdle and the same is true of soft cheeses and yogurts as well. High water content veggies such as lettuces and cucumbers will become very limp if you attempt to freeze them so they are not a good candidate for freezing either.

Clever Tricks for Better Freezer Storage

  • Never Refreeze Fresh food when frozen will stay good for months but the one thing that you should never do is refreeze any kind of food that has been previously frozen and thawed.
  • Cool Things Off If you are freezing cooked foods allow them to cool off before you do so. If you place hot foods in the freezer you will increase its overall temperature which will not only mean that other food items may begin to defrost but also that the freezers mechanisms will have to work harder, consuming more electricity, in order to restore the proper temperature.
  • Wrap with Car Improperly wrapped food will very quickly fall victim to freezer burn which will make it inedible. Make sure that you always use either lidded airtight containers or Ziploc type plastic bags designed for freezer use to wrap your food before you put it in the freezer.
  • Store Sensibly One of the big advantages of having a good sized freezer is that you can take advantage of all the great prices that warehouse stores offer on bulk food for the freezer. You should however take the time to separate up these big packages into more realistic portions before you freeze them. After all, you may have scored an excellent deal on ten pounds of ground beef but it is highly unlikely that you would ever use even half of that to prepare the average family meal.
  • Label Everything It has happened to most of us; finding that bag of mystery meat at the back of the freezer that you cannot remember just what it is or how long it has been there. You can avoid those problems though by labeling food as you freeze it, both with what it is and the date you placed it there.

What to Do if Disaster Strikes

Even the most expensive freezer models can go wrong and there are of course also always power cuts that can make life difficult as well. The dilemma many people face is just what they should do with food in a freezer when the freezer is not working. As long as you keep the freezer door shut most food will remain sufficiently frozen to be just fine for 24 hours, giving you time to make other arrangements. Any longer than that though and sadly you probably should put it all in the bin, however painful that might be.

Safe Food Storage Tips for the Average Kitchen

Often when we think about food storage in our kitchens are major concerns are related to space and aesthetics and not to actual food safety. There are most certainly however safe food storage procedures that really do need to be followed in order to ensure that the food you eat, and serve to your family, is as safe and healthy to consume as possible. Peggy Van Laanen, an Associate Professor from Texas A&M University even wrote a special report about this very issue to assist people everywhere. Here are some of the most important takeaways from what she, as a professional food scientist and dietitian, has to say:

Food Storage in the Pantry

If you are lucky enough to have a pantry in your home then it can be an excellent place to store all kind of foods. The best pantries are those located away from the stove and/or cooking area as ideally a pantry should remain at a constant temperature of between 10 and 20C (50-70F) and the heat from a stove can alter that dramatically.

Food stuffs stored in the pantry, if they are not tinned or packaged should be stored in metal, glass or plastic containers and you should clean and dust both your pantry and the food in it on a regular basis.

Food Storage in the Refrigerator

Your refrigerator should be set, at all times, to no more than 4.5 C (40F). Store dairy items on a separate shelf to other items to avoid cross contamination and make sure that any spills of any food or liquids are wiped up immediately for the same reason. If you store raw meat in the fridge keep it separate and wrapped or on a plate to avoid allowing juices dripping onto other food. Finally, by keeping an open box of baking soda in the corner of your fridge you can keep it smelling fresh as baking soda is excellent at absorbing odor. For the best results replace the box every 90 days or so.

Food Storage in the Freezer

Your freezer should always be set at a temperature no higher than -18C (0F). If the temperature rises any higher than than that the quality of food can deteriorate even though it remains frozen and looks just fine.

You also need to take care when thawing food. Once any food begins to thaw the protection it was afforded in the freezer disappears and air borne bacteria can quickly begin to affect it. It is far safer to thaw food in the fridge rather than at room temperature even though it will take longer to thaw out completely.

Storing Leftovers

It is hardly uncommon for all of us to have leftover food that we don't want to waste by throwing away just because no one wants to eat it right then. Storing leftover food is fine, as long as you do so in the right way.

For the best food quality cooked foods should be refrigerated or frozen within 2 hours of being prepared but they should be allowed to cool before you do so. Do not store leftovers uncovered. Before you serve leftover cooked foods that are designed to be served hot they should be reheated to a temperature of 73C (165F) to make sure that it is safe to consume.

Most leftovers only have a limited life when stored in the refrigerator, usually between 1 and 3 days. If you are a little uncertain about eating something - did you put it in there on Thursday or Friday? - play it safe and discard the food rather than taking chances with anyone's health.

Safe Outdoor Grilling Tips for Your Next Summer Barbecue

For most people summer just would not be summer if they could not get outside, at least occasionally, fire up the grill and enjoy a backyard barbecue. In fact, outdoor grilling has become even more popular over the last few years as more and more homeowners - and even apartment dwellers - have made the move from a simple grill and patio set arrangement to building full blown outdoor kitchens in order to enjoy al fresco dining even more.

However simple or sophisticated your grilling set up might be you do have to keep safety in mind, much in the same way as you would in your indoor kitchen and there are in fact some special considerations to keep in mind when preparing and grilling food in the great outdoors. Here are some important tips, as shared and approved by

Keep Food Types Separate

If they are planning a big barbecue most 'grill chefs' prepare several different types of food in order to offer a varied menu. Even though you may be working with less space than you have in your kitchen indoors it is still very important that food types be kept separate to avoid cross contamination. Use separate cutting boards for meats, vegetables and fruits and never use a knife, or other cooking utensil, that has been used to prepare one food type on another before you have washed and cleaned it thoroughly.

Cleanliness is Key.. And That Applies to You Too

Outdoor cookery does tend to be a great deal more of a hands on activity so it is a must that those hands are clean! Wash your hand before handling any food and wash your hands again when working with different types of ingredients. If you have enlisted any sous chefs or cooking assistants, or even servers, make sure that they do the same too.

Don't Go for Rare

Everyone loves a nice juicy burger or a tender chicken breast but that does not mean that you should undercook meat on the grill as that is simply not safe. The difficulty faced when grilling is that a piece of meat can look done from the outside but inside it may be a very different story. This is where a good meat thermometer comes in very handy.

What is a good internal temperature to ensure that various meats are cooked to a point where they are safe to serve? For most poultry (chicken, turkey etc.) 73 C (165F) is just right and the same holds true for pork and even hot dogs. With beef products you can get away with a temperature as low as 62C (145F) if you have been asked to prepare a steak that is medium rare.

Beware of Bugs

Bugs are more than just an annoyance they are a health hazard too. as gross as it sounds (and it is) insects of all kinds carry germs and bacteria on their feet and so a fly landing on your food means that it really should be discarded as for all you know that fly could have been paddling in the garbage just a few minutes ago.

If you are dining outside it is hard to keep the bugs away but there are some precautions you can take. Lighting citronella candles can help - bugs hate the stuff - and keeping food covered right up to minute it is served is the best idea as well.

Dealing with Leftovers

If you find that you have leftover meat that is not going to be consumed that day as long as it is refrigerated within two hours of cooking then it should be safe to store for a day or two.