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8 Things in Your Fridge You Should Throw Out Right Now (Slideshow)

8 Things in Your Fridge You Should Throw Out Right Now (Slideshow)


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You need to get rid of these foods in your refrigerator

If you’ve been storing food in the refrigerator in an open can, throw it away. Studies show that harmful metals are transferred into foods when they’re stored this way.

Open Cans

If you’ve been storing food in the refrigerator in an open can, throw it away. Studies show that harmful metals are transferred into foods when they’re stored this way.

Margarine

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Most margarine contains trans-fat which raises your bad cholesterol, lowers your good cholesterol, and increases your risk for heart disease. If your margarine contains any trans-fat, toss it.

Bread

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Freshly-baked breads don’t have a long shelf life. If you’re not going to use fresh bread within a few days, freeze it; storing it in the refrigerator will make it stale and unappetizing very quickly.

Sugar-Sweetened Yogurt Cups

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Sweetened yogurt cups are usually high in added sugar and some have as many as 250 calories. If you have flavored yogurt cups that are high in sugar, get rid of them and try plain yogurt with fresh fruit or a drizzle of honey instead.

Leftovers

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There are two important rules you need to know about storing leftovers in your refrigerator: If the leftovers sat out at room temperature for two hours or more, or if they have been in your refrigerator for more than four days, it’s time to toss them.

Pre-packaged Diet Foods and Drinks

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Deli Meat

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Experts are divided on the health benefits and risks of deli meat — most deli meats include harmful nitrates and may even include added sugar. For optimum health, get rid of deli meat and switch to healthier whole cuts of meat.

Tomatoes

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What You Need To Know About Baking Soda, Washing Soda, And Borax

While all three are white powders that can help with your laundry, there are important differences between baking soda, washing soda, and borax that you need to know about!

Depending on how long you’ve been reading this blog, you may have noticed that I mention a lot of the same household cleaners in my posts about cleaning and laundry solutions, including hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, vinegar, and others. These “usual suspects” (which you can read more about here) make up the majority of my favorite natural or green cleaning solutions. And if you keep them on hand like I do, you’ll always be prepared for whatever cleaning or laundry problem life can throw at you!

Among the cleaning ingredients that I use most frequently, there are three in particular that are easy to get confused: baking soda, washing soda, and borax. Back when I first started making my own cleaning and laundry products, I got them mixed up all the time (and not least because they all just look like white powder once you get them out of the box!)

Before there were nylon scrubbies, sponges, shower poufs, or loofahs, people used felted soap. I've talked about "felting" before when I showed you . Continue Reading

But experience is often the best teacher, and after nearly a decade of making and using my own cleaning products, I now have a much better understanding of the characteristics that make baking soda, washing soda, and borax unique (and why they’re not necessarily interchangeable!) So I think it’s high time that I clarify those differences between these three cleaners here, so that you can feel more knowledgable about what they do and confident about putting them to good use around the house! :-)

Note: Even though baking soda, washing soda, and borax are all different, rest assured that they are safe to combine. In fact, I add all three to the recipe for my favorite homemade laundry detergent, along with Fels-Naptha bar laundry soap!


1. You let frozen raw meat or poultry thaw on the counter.

Bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature, according to FoodSafety.gov. And, since food thaws unevenly, bacteria begin to grow on the thawed portions even if other parts of the food still feel frozen solid. That bacteria can make you sick and contaminate other items in your kitchen, Tierno says.

When you need to thaw perishable foods, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends these options:

Thaw in the refrigerator. You’ll need to plan ahead for this method, which can take a few days. For example, a large item like a turkey needs at least a full 24 hours per 5 pounds of weight if your fridge is set to 40 degrees. Once thawed, foods like ground meat or turkey should be OK in the fridge for an extra day or two before you get cooking.

Thaw in cold water. This is a quicker option, but it’s more work and requires the frozen food to be in a leak-proof bag. Submerge the item in cold water, then change the water every 30 minutes. A pound of meat, poultry, or seafood may take an hour or less, but larger packages take longer. After thawing, cook the food right away.

Thaw in the microwave. It’s safe to thaw raw food in the microwave, but you need to cook it immediately once it’s thawed.

The USDA reports that it’s also safe to skip straight to cooking. All home chefs out there should keep in mind that a frozen item takes about 50 percent longer to cook than it does when not frozen, and this might not be the best plan for your recipe. For example, the National Center for Home Food Preservation notes that if you’re planning to bread and fry meat, poultry, or seafood, you’ll want it at least partially thawed for easier handling.


8 Ways To Use Up Your Leftover Kale

Chances are you have some kale sitting in your fridge right now. And with good reason, since this leafy green contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds that promote eye health as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants and nutrients ranging from vitamin A, C, and K to fiber, and calcium. But let's face it, even though kale is such a nutritional powerhouse and despite our best intentions to chomp on it every day, all those kale salads can get a little, well, repetitive. And that leaves us with kale left in our fridge at the end of a busy week. Here are a few easy ways to put it to good use this weekend, and we promise, no salads!

In some ways, kale might seem like the last green that youɽ want to add to a smoothie because its texture isn't exactly, um, smooth, and its flavor can be a little bitter. But when sweet fruit is added to it, it takes away the bitter bite. Plus, if you pre-chop it and massage it a little before throwing it in the blender, it will mix in beautifully. The key is getting the right ratio. We like 1 cup each: kale, vanilla almond milk, and frozen mango chunks and 1/2 of a very ripe banana along with 2/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt.

Making eggs for brunch this weekend? Try adding kale to your omelet or frittata. Simply sauté the kale down in some oil with onions and garlic until tender and then add your eggs to finish making your dish. We love this recipe for a kale frittata.

Take your favorite wrap or sandwich and swap out the bread for kale. Lacinato or Italian kale work the best for this, and we love the green leaves wrapped around a grilled chicken breast that was marinated in a combination of soy sauce and honey or around our favorite veggie burger.

Soup in the middle of summer? Yes, if it is a refreshing, chilled soup with plenty of fresh greens and herbs. A perfect way to turn your kale into something totally different, we think you'll love the fresh flavor and creamy texture of this recipe.

Pizza is often the perfect Friday-night food, so why not make it a little healthier by topping it with some leftover kale? The leafy green will go well with almost any common pizza-topping combination. Simply massage a chopped bunch of kale in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, throw it on top of the pizza and bake as usual.

One of my favorite ways to use up leftover kale (even if it is already a little wilted) is to whip up some kale pesto. The combination of the deep green kale, fresh basil, flavorful evoo, and rich walnuts and parmesan cheese is perfect on pasta. And speaking of pasta, if you're making any type of pasta or stir-fry this weekend, why not throw some kale in there too? Those meals are the perfect vehicles for this leafy green.

Have you tried the whole kale chip thing before and been disappointed? Well, we admit, us too. The key is to not overcrowd the pan and make sure the pieces of kale are in a single layer (not touching) on a parchment-lined pan. This may mean you have to make the chips in batches, but trust us, it is totally worth it. The other important thing is seasoning. We like this recipe's idea for combining sweet and spicy ingredients.

If you love spinach and artichoke dip, you'll love this similar idea using kale. Simply cook one bunch of kale (with the stems and ribs removed) in 1/4 cup water with 1 small sliced onion and 5 cloves garlic until tender. Transfer to a food processor and add 3/4 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese, the juice of one small lemon, and salt and pepper, to taste. Process until smooth and then transfer to a serving bowl and gently stir in 1 (8-ounce) drained jar of quartered artichoke hearts. Serve with whole-grain pita chips and crudités.


8 Important Refrigerator Do's and Don'ts

The fridge is the true workhorse of the kitchen — and many of us neglect it. Improper use and lack of care can lead to messes, wasted energy and even foodborne illnesses. While each fridge is a little different, here are some universal do's and don'ts to keep your fridge (and the food inside it!) in tip-top shape.

Do Take Your Fridge's Temperature

Keep the fridge set at a chilly 40 degrees F or below to slow harmful bacteria growth and keep your dinner leftovers safe to eat. Set the freezer at a steady 0 degrees F — cold enough to keep your ice cream frozen, but not so cold that it drains energy.

Do Clean and Inspect the Door Seals Once a Month

If your fridge doors don’t seal properly, cold air can escape, which makes it harder for your fridge to keep its cool. A faulty seal on the freezer can lead to unwanted frosty buildup — think freezer burn on your ice cream and frozen burritos. Clean the seals with warm soapy water to stop any debris or food spills from from blocking the seal. If the seal is cracked or broken, it's time to buy a new seal.

Don't Store Highly Perishable Items in the Door

The door, which gets a good workout opening and closing, is the warmest place in the fridge — so you don't want to put items like milk and eggs there. Keep them on a shelf instead.

Do Separate Some Produce in Different Bins

One bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch. Some fruits, like apples, bananas, avocados and melons, emit ethylene, a ripening gas that causes premature spoilage in neighboring produce. Keep offending fruit away from sensitive greens (which will wilt with exposure) in a separate bin set to low humidity. The open vent will let some of the gas escape and help items last longer.

Do Toss Leftovers in a Timely Fashion

Is last week's take-out OK to eat? How about yesterday's pasta? A general rule of thumb from the USDA: After the fourth day, throw it away.

Don't Use Harsh Chemical Cleaners

Remember, this is where you keep your food! Choose non-toxic green cleaners or mix a little water with some baking soda or white vinegar and scrub away. Once a season, roll up your sleeves, remove all of the food from your fridge and do a deep clean.

Don't Waste Space By Storing the Wrong Stuff

Hot sauce, nut butters, coffee beans and other items that are commonly kept in the fridge don't require refrigeration and do just fine — better even — in the pantry.

Do Clean the Condenser Coils Twice a Year

Out of sight, out of mind? Think again. Dusty coils can keep your fridge from running efficiently and cooling food properly. If the coils are on the back, pull the fridge from the wall if the coils are on the bottom, simply snap off the kick plate. Just be sure to unplug the fridge first (so you don’t get shocked!). Use a coil brush (available at the hardware store) to knock off dust, then vacuum it up.


"Instead of walking back and forth to the garbage all the scraps go into one bowl and are thrown out at the end which means less to clean off your counters, cutting board and floor," Boyd says.

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"I love to saute and sear [and] I always have a splatter screen," says Boyd. "When fat flies all over your range, counters, and backsplash it can really create a difficult mess to clean once the fat cools. Placing a splatter screen over your pans when you are rendering fat or shallow-frying really ensures clean up to be a breeze."


Does my freezer's temperature matter?

You&aposd be forgiven for assuming that a freezer is humming along just fine if it&aposs set below 32ய, the freezing point of water. That&aposs not the case, however. Similar to their 40ய threshold for the fridge, the FDA advises that freezers should be set at 0ய or lower. 

Emphasizing 0ய instead of 0஬ for the freezer does a few things. Firstly, not everything you&aposll throw in there freezes right at 32ய. Furthermore, opting for 0ய makes sure everything in there can be safely eaten for an indefinite period of time.  


9 quick and easy recipes to throw together for last-minute guests

Surprise! Your in-laws just dropped by for an unexpected visit. Your first instinct is probably to run to the fridge and look for some food to put out, but the bag of baby carrots and the stale cookies in your pantry just won’t cut it. But have no fear — you don’t have to let your mother-in-law silently judge you for 30 minutes while you wait for the pizza delivery. With just a little bit of forethought, it’s easy to impress unexpected guests with a simple last-minute appetizer or meal.

The first step in having something to throw together is planning ahead. That may seem easier said than done with the madness of the holiday rush, but it really only takes five minutes to assess what you have, make a list of essentials and then grab them the next time you're at the grocery store. Here are some simple tips to make sure you’re well prepared for spontaneous festivities:

  • Take an inventory: Spend a few minutes looking through your pantry, fridge and freezer, to get a sense of what you're working with to whip up a last-minute dish. While doing so, break out your phone — or pen and paper, if you’re old school — and write down the ingredients you have on hand that could work. (If you’re not sure what works as a good base for a dish, check out the expert recommendations below before taking inventory.)
  • Stock up the pantry: If your inventory is looking a bit bare, add some items to your shopping list. Think about different courses, like appetizers, mains, drinks and desserts. Items like canned beans, jarred olives, artichokes and peppers, crackers, Chex mix, dry pasta, jarred sauce, seltzer and even baking mixes are lifesavers. Pro tip: order non-perishable items online from big box stores to save yourself a trip to the store. Shipping is usually free!
  • Buy some frozen essentials: Having a well-stocked pantry will probably suffice, but it never hurts to keep some goodies in the freezer as well. If you’re cooking dinner one night and find yourself with some leftover chopped veggies, freeze them! Other helpful freezer staples are edamame, frozen brown rice or frozen appetizer bites.

Now that you’re well prepared, it’s time to pull from your storage and create a killer dish in a flash. We tapped some registered dietitians for their go-to bites when last-minute guests stop by.

Hummus

Break out your food processor and impress you guests with a homemade hummus on the fly. “Hummus requires ingredients I almost always have, but it's also easily customizable,” says Chef Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD. “I use canned chickpeas or another bean, olive oil, garlic, tahini (you can skip if you don't have any), lemon, salt and pepper and serve it with crackers, pita or veggies,” she adds. If you don’t have these items in your pantry, now is the time to add them to your list.

Pasta Bolognese

A pasta dinner is only minutes away, if you’ve got the right ingredients. “A super quick crowd-pleasing meal only requires ground turkey, a jar of marinara sauce and a box of pasta,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of “The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club” and founder of NutritionStarringYOU.com. Just brown the meat in a skillet, cook the pasta and then combine the two in a bowl with jarred sauce. “It feeds about six people in under 20 minutes,” says Harris-Pincus.

No-Bake Chocolate Almond Bites

If you’ve got a food processor, chocolate chips, dates and nuts, you’ve got a quick no-bake dessert. If you’re out of almonds, try walnuts or pecans. Don’t have chocolate chips? Use white chocolate or a candy bar you’ve got stashed in the drawer. This recipe is completely customizable based on the ingredients you have on hand.

White Bean Romesco Dip

Romesco dip sounds and tastes more elegant than it actually is. “It's basically almonds (or any nuts you have on hand), roasted red peppers, olive oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper all zipped up in a food processor or blender,” says chef and Registered Dietitian Abbie Gellman, MS, RD. “For added plant-based protein to fill up your guests, include some white beans in the mix,” says Gellman.

Frittata

Guests show up at the most unexpected times. For breakfast or brunch guests, a simple frittata will hit the spot. Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, New York-based culinary nutrition expert and author of 52-Week Meal Planner, suggests utilizing a fridge staple to whip up a baked egg dish. You can sub in any frozen veggies you may have to make this simple crowd-pleaser. Serve with salad greens, toasted bread slices and a pot of coffee (and pour yourself an extra cup).

Holiday Snack Mix

Making a holiday snack mix is as easy as raiding the pantry. “Grab a few crunchy things, one sweet thing and one salty thing,” says Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, culinary dietitian and author of Taco! Taco! Taco! and co-author Fertility Foods. “Toss it all together and serve in a festive bowl or dish — no cooking required,” Haas adds.

Freezer Flatbread

“I always keep some sort of flatbread in the freezer so I can pull it out and make a go-to pizza that everyone will enjoy,” says Elizabeth Shaw MS RDN CLT CPT, nutrition expert and owner of ShawSimpleSwaps.com. She suggests adding any sauce you find in the cupboard. “If you don’t have pizza sauce, you can use BBQ sauce or another condiment and top it with cheese, veggies or basically anything you can find in the fridge or pantry,” says Shaw.

Cheese Platter

“I always have at least one block of cheese in my fridge (I stock up when it’s on sale),” says Jenna Braddock, MSH, CSSD, RD Dietitian and food blogger at MakeHealthyEasy.com. “From there, I add whatever crackers or bread I have around, lay out any fresh fruit from my fridge, and finish it off with a dried fruit or nuts.” The best part of this is that you can customize the type of cheese, fruit and nuts to suit your taste (or based on what you’re able to scrounge up). And might we add this is the perfect time to break out that fancy serving dish your in-laws bought you that's been collecting dust in the cabinet?

Fruity Spritzer

While you're at it, kick your drink game up a notch, too. Wine is always a winner, but why not think outside of the bottle this year with a fruity spritzer? Just combine 3 ounces of your favorite wine with 1 ounce of seltzer and 1 ounce of 100% fruit juice, and garnish with fresh fruit slices, if you have them. Your guests will be impressed and feel special — like you were planning for their arrival all along.


You can drive yourself crazy zipping around the kitchen to all the different drawers and cabinets collecting the supplies you need to do things like make coffee or whip up a post-workout protein shake. Jennifer Marcus, owner of D'Clutter Design, has an easy way to keep things for one "activity" all together while keeping yourself sane: Create zones!

"If you're a coffee drinker, create a 'coffee zone' where all your supplies are within reach of each other," Marcus suggests. "Use hooks under a cabinet to hang your mugs right next to your coffee maker, add a decorative container next to the maker with your favorite sweetener." According to Marcus, you can do this with any kitchen-based task you do with regularity. For example, if you like to bake, don't keep your flour and sugar on the other side of the kitchen from your mixer and bowls. Create a baking zone by utilizing one cabinet or drawer to house all the ingredients and supplies.


6. Slice and Freeze Half of Your Bread

A good loaf of bakery bread is a grocery essential—but it goes bad quickly. Freezing bread is the best way to keep it fresh—and toasting it or reheating it in the oven re-gelatinizes the starches, making it taste as good (or better) as new. So instead of leaving the whole loaf on your counter, slice it in half. Put one half aside for dinner that night and the next. Slice the other half and freeze the individual slices so you can pull them out and pop them in the oven when you're making sandwiches or serving bread alongside family dinner.



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