Author - Janet Noe

Food Shelf Life and Storage Tips

 

 

Awareness of the shelf life of food is a twofold concern, balancing food safety and concerns of not being wasteful of money and resources. Americans throw away nearly 40% of the food grown in the country. This amounts to 1,400 calories per person per day, around $400 per person, per year. Shockingly, 31 million tons of food are added to landfills each year! To help balance good health, thriftiness and being a conscientious citizen of the planet, we’ve put together a list of the shelf life of many common foods and best ways to store them to preserve freshness!

Shelf Life of Fruits and Vegetables

Apples – Refrigerator: 3-5 months

Oranges – Room Temp: 3-4 days  Refrigerator: 5-6 weeks

Lemons & Limes – Room Temp: 1 week  Refrigerator: 2-5 weeks

Grapefruit – Room Temp: 1 weeks  Refrigerator: 2 weeks

Stone fruits (apricots, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums) – Refrigerator: 3-5 days

Avocados (ripe) – Room Temp: 2-3 days   Refrigerator: 5-10 days

Berries and Cherries – Refrigerator: 2-3 days

Grapes – Refrigerator: 1-2 weeks

Commercially frozen fruits – 1 year

Canned Fruits – Refrigerator, unopened: 1-2 years.

                         Opened (stored in airtight container): 2-3 days

 

Asparagus – Refrigerator: 3-5 days

Carrots – Refrigerator: 2-4 weeks

Green Beans – Refrigerator: 1 week

Bell Peppers – Refrigerator: 1-2 weeks

Tomatoes – Room Temperature: 2-5 days depending on size and ripeness.

Mushrooms – Refrigerator: 1-2 days

Commercially frozen vegetables – 8-12 months

Canned vegetables – Room Temperature: 1 year  

          Refrigerator (opened, stored in airtight container): 3-5 days
Shelf Life of Meat, Poultry, Fish and Eggs

Bacon – Refrigerator: 7 days  Freezer: 1 month

Raw Sausage – Refrigerator: 1-2 days  Freezer: 1-2 months

Hard Sausage – Refrigerator: 2-3 weeks  Freezer: 1-2 months

Ground Beef, Turkey, Chicken, Lamb, Pork – Refrigerator: 1-2 days  Freezer: 3-4 months

Steaks/Chops/Roasts (Beef, Pork, Lamb) – Refrigerator: 3-5 days

Freezer varies: Steaks – 6-12 months, Chops – 4-6 months, Roasts – 4-12 months

Fresh Poultry (whole) – Refrigerator: 1-2 days  Freezer: 1 year

Fresh Poultry (pieces) – Refrigerator: 1-2 days  Freezer: 9 months

Fish – Refrigerator: 1-2 days  Freezer: Lean fish (cod, haddock, flounder) – 6 months

   Fatty Fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) – 2-3 months

Eggs – Refrigerator: Will maintain their best quality for around 3 weeks after the “sell by” or expiration date on the carton. To determine if an egg is still good, you can do a “float test” by putting it in a bowl of waters. If it sinks, it is safe to use. If it floats, it means that gases have built up in it’s shell and it’s not safe for consumption.

Pantry Staples ( kept in airtight storage)

Flour: 6-8 months

Milk (Evaporated, Powdered, Sweetened/Condensed): 1 year

Nuts: Shelled 4 months, Unshelled 6 months

Peanut Butter: 6-9 months unopened

Baking Soda: 2 years

Baking Powder: 18 months

Rice: White, Jasmine and Basmati – 2 years Brown and Wild – 6 months

Pasta: 2 years

Oil: Olive – 6 months, Canola – 1 year

 

Most vinegars are at their best within 2 years but is safe indefinitely. The following pantry staples will keep forever. . .

Salt

Sugar

Honey

Real Vanilla Extract

Whole Foods Spotlight: Barley

Barley is an often overlooked member of the whole grains family. This is a shame because it contains a wealth of nutrients essential to our health. Our skin, bones, muscles, digestive system and more can benefit by adding more of this whole food into our diet and the parts of the plant can be used in many ways.

Barley grass is the seedling of the plant and the young shoots are rich in amino acids, antioxidants and chlorophyll which combats harmful toxins and detoxifies the body. Hulled barley (also known as pot or scotch) is eaten after removing the inedible outer hull. In this form it takes a long time to soak prior to cooking. Pearl barley is hulled and processed, the bran is removed and polished which lessens the cooking time but strips away so much of the nutritional value that it can no longer be considered a whole grain. There are also flakes and flours made from both hulled and pearl varieties.

Osteoporosis Prevention

The phosphorus found in barley promotes good health of bones and teeth. When it comes to calcium, this whole grain has milk beat, containing 11x greater calcium content! It also contains copper which may aid in reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by helping cell regeneration. Copper also supports collagen and elastin production, making bones and joints more flexible.

Immune System Boost

It has nearly twice as much Vitamin C than oranges and helps to reduce the chances of cold and flu. It also contains a good amount of iron, helping to prevent fatigue and anemia, regulates blood volume and aids in kidney function as well.

Healthy Skin

The selenium found in barley helps preserve skin elasticity and prevent loosening. Selenium works with vitamin E in the body to protect and strengthen the cell membranes, the protective coating around cells. It also helps with healing inflammation in the skin.

Intestinal Wellness

Finally, it is a great source of fiber and acts as a fuel source or prebiotic for the beneficial bacteria in our large intestine and the byproduct of it fermenting in our system creates butyric acid, the primary fuel for intestinal cells. The grain helps to protect the colon and helps to prevent the development of gallstones.

 

Barley, Spinach and Mushrooms

Barley Fried Rice with Marinated Shrimp

Slow-cooker Breakfast Barley

Whole Foods Spotlight – Cashews

 

Native to Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, cashew trees bear copious amounts of a false fruit called a cashew apple. Botanically, the nut we consume is a drupe or a stone fruit with a hard outer shell enclosing the edible kernel. Cashews spread throughout the world thanks to Indian and Portuguese explorers and is enjoyed both as a sweet snack and in the preparation of curries and other dishes.

They provide a host of valuable nutrients, vitamins and minerals that make them a great choice in a healthy diet. Particularly abundant is copper which is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, elastin and collagen and offer protection to nerve fibers. There are .6mg of copper in a one ounce serving of roasted cashews, around 30% of the recommended daily intake. They also offer magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, potassium, selenium and calcium.

Cashews sometimes get a bad rap for being high in fat. However, the fats contained within are essential, monounsaturated fatty acids which actually assist the body in lowering harmful LDL-cholesterol and increasing the good HDL cholesterol. Diets which include monounsaturated fatty acids help to prevent stroke and coronary artery disease.

Vitamin K, needed for proper blood clotting and preventing excessive bleeding, is also abundant in cashews. As is vitamin B6 which helps maintain a healthy nervous system, boost mood,balance blood sugar levels and acts as a natural pain reliever.

There are also antioxidant compounds in the nut, including proanthocyanidins which are being researched for their ability to stop the growth of certain cancer cells by preventing them from dividing. Cashews are of particular interest to researchers in the study of colon cancer.

The cashew and other nuts have also been researched for their ability to lower the risk of gallstones. The Nurses’ Health study collected dietary data on 80,000 women over a twenty year period and concluded that women who eat at least one ounce of nuts or nut butter each week have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones.

Other than grabbing a handful as a snack or throwing some into a granola mix, there are plenty of delicious ways to incorporate cashews into your meal planning. Below are some links to delicious recipes that include cashews!

 

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

Crunchy Pea Salad with Bacon & Cashews

Pumpkin Chickpea Cashew Curry

#TBT – Plantain – History and Benefits

Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We’ll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. This week we discuss plantain, a “weed” that has many benefits!

 

You’ve probably seen plantain (the plant variety, not the fruit related to the banana) growing in your backyard and dismissed it as a weed. However, this plant has been used for thousands of years by native peoples as a source of nutrition and healing. Plantago major or common plantain can grow almost anywhere, sprouting up even through cracks in asphalt and concrete and it can thrive in nearly any climate.

Related to spinach, plantain leaves provide iron, beta carotene, calcium, ascorbic acid and contains vitamins A, C and K. It can be added raw to salads but adult leaves tend to be stringy. It can be cooked just like spinach and the seedpods are edible as well, a bit like asparagus. Plantain is a little more bitter than spinach or asparagus and are great to use in stews or soups and stir-fries. They also have gentle astringent properties which help to dry up excess secretions in the respiratory and digestive tracts and can be helpful in treating chest colds and diarrhea.

Plantain is also commonly used as a natural poultice to draw out toxins and stingers from bug bites and stings and to alleviate other irritations. Crushed and added right to the problem area like a paste, it’s anti-inflammatory properties make it useful on wounds, burns and even removing splinters. Even if you don’t plan on harvesting the plant for use from your own backyard, it’s good to keep this information in your mind when camping or hiking in the woods!  Plantain can also help to cool and heal sunburns and because it contains a phytochemical called allantoin it generally promotes healthy skin by stimulating new cells and healthy tissue.

While you may be able to find plantain in your own backyard, if it’s been sprayed with chemicals and fertilizer you may want to find it from a different source. It is invasive so if you are thinking about planting some in your yard, be forewarned. Also keep in mind that while young shoots are more tender, the larger leaves contain more of the beneficial phytochemicals.

Whole Foods Spotlight – Asparagus

 

Springtime is the perfect time to enjoy thin, tender, flavorful stalks of asparagus! This vegetable has long been consumed and valued for its nutritional properties. An Egyptian frieze dating at around 3000 BC pictures asparagus as an offering and it’s name comes from a Persian word meaning stalk or shoot. During Roman times, Emperor Augustus coined the phrase “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action, as the vegetable is best when lightly and quickly steamed, broiled or sauteed. The thickness of the stem indicates the age of the plant and newer, slender stalks are the most tender. The stalks of older plants can be woody but can be peeled or easily snapped off.

While we typically think of asparagus as green, there are white and purple varieties of the vegetable as well. Purple asparagus grows naturally and has a fruitier flavor that makes the purple variety a great choice for eating raw. White asparagus has no chlorophyll to give it its green color as it’s grown underground or under plastic domes, completely shaded. Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally balanced vegetables. It’s low in calories and sodium, has no cholesterol and is a great source of fiber. It’s also loaded with minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc as well as vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B9 (folate), C, E and K.

The abundance of B vitamins, including folate, helps to maintain healthy levels of homocysteine, produced by the blood when amino acids break down. A deficiency of B vitamins will elevate these homocysteine levels leading to ailments such as damaged blood vessels, venous thrombosis which is the clotting of blood in the veins and other cardiac disorders. Folate is also linked to preventing neural health disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s also crucial for a developing fetus and women who are pregnant or planning on getting pregnant are strongly encouraged to increase their intake of folate.

Asparagus supports kidney health as well. A known diuretic, it helps to flush out excess salt and fluids from the body and helps to prevent toxins from building up in the kidneys and the formation of kidney stones. However, if you have uric acid kidney stones, your physician may tell you to avoid the vegetable to keep your urine from getting too acidic and worsening your condition. If you’ve ever noticed that eating a lot of asparagus causes urine to smell strong, this is because it’s the only food to contain a chemical called asparagusic acid. During digestion, this acid breaks down into compounds which contain sulfur which leads to the strong scent that everyone produces but only a small percentage of people can smell.

In addition, the high fiber content of asparagus and it’s prebiotic nature which acts as a food source for good gut bacteria makes it a fantastic choice for good digestive health. It also helps to support the immune system, provides protection for the thyroid gland and has anti-inflammatory benefits as well. All great reasons to pick up a bundle the next time you are at the farmer’s market or grocery store!

 

Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes

Asparagus Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Grilled Sriracha Meatball Skewers with Coconut Rice and Asparagus

Whole Foods Spotlight: Sweet Peas

How many times did you hear, “Eat your peas!” when you were growing up? That piece of parental wisdom is definitely one to follow because sweet peas are tiny little powerhouses of nutrition. Today we share some reasons why you should put another spoonful of peas on your plate.

Packed with anti-oxidants including flavenoids, carotenoids, phenolic acid and polyphenols, peas provide protection to the immune system and protection against the effects of aging. Pisumsaponins and pisomosides, primarily found in peas, are two anti-inflammatory phytonutrients providing protection against heart disease. Also at work to keep the heart healthy? Generous levels of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and folate which lower homocysteine levels linked to a risk factor for heart disease.

While peas are low in fat, they are jam packed with fiber and only have 100 calories per cup making them a great choice for weight management. They contain a phytonutrient called coumestrol which has been linked to stomach cancer prevention. The high fiber content helps stave off constipation and keep the bowels running smoothly.

For optimum bone health and osteoporosis prevention, getting enough Vitamin K and B is key. Once cup of peas contains over 40% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin K.

Peas are one of the best plants you can have in the garden to maintain healthy soil. The plant works with bacteria in the soil to replenish nitrogen levels. The plant easily breaks down into the soil after a crop has been harvested. They are also able to grow with minimal water, saving that valuable resource as well.

Soon after harvesting, much of their sugar content rapidly converts to starch so it’s best to consume them as soon as possible after they are picked. They can be kept in the refrigerator for two to three days, which helps to keep the sugars from turning to starch. If you are looking to freeze them for later use, blanch them for 1 to 2 minutes prior to putting them in the freezer where they can last from 6 months to a year.

Essential Vitamin List

We all want to feel and look our best, have lots of energy and keep our bodies healthy. Making sure we are getting the right amounts of essential vitamins is key to all of that! Today we’ve put together a list of the essential vitamins your body needs, what they do for your health and great sources to incorporate more into your diet!

A

What doesn’t Vitamin A do? This powerhouse is in charge of general growth and development. It’s crucial for eye health, teeth, skin and helps to boost the immune system and cuts the risk of heart disease.

You know you are getting a dose of A when you are eating foods with an orange hue, caused by the carotene pigment. Carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe are all packed with Vitamin A.

The recommended daily dosage is 2,300 IU. Be advised that it can be toxic in large doses so stick with the recommended amount.

B VITAMINS

The eight B vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B12 and Folic acid. These are responsible for energy production, maintaining metabolism, muscle tone, iron absorption, immune function and memory.

These nutrients can be found in whole foods including potatoes, bananas, lentils, peppers, beans, whole grains, yeast and molasses. Recommended daily allowance is as follows. . .

  • B1: 2-10 mg/day
  • B2: 5-10mg/day
  • B3: 15-30mg/day
  • B5: 1-15mgs
  • B6: 6-12mg/day
  • B7 : 100-300 mcgs
  • B12: 12-100 mcg
  • Folic acid: 200-400 mcg/day

C

Known for boosting the immune system, Vitamin C is also hard at work giving skin elasticity, strengthening blood vessels, assisting in iron absorption, helping wounds heal faster and preventing heart disease.

Oranges, guava, bell peppers, kiwi, grapefruit, strawberries, Brussel sprouts and cantaloupe are all great sources for C. A single orange covers your recommended daily dosage, 75 mg.

D

Here’s one of the essential vitamins you may want to strongly consider supplementing. While milk, eggs, orange juice, fish and mushrooms provide Vitamin D, the amounts are not enough. The recommended daily dosage is 1,000 to 2,000 IU.

The best source of Vitamin D is spending time in the sun. However, with rising skin cancer rates we have to balance how much time we spend in the sun without sunscreen with our need for Vitamin D. It’s necessary for strong, healthy bones and optimum muscle function. It’s believed that it can reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 50 percent!

E

Many cells of our body use vitamin E to carry out important functions. It gives a boost to the immune system, widen blood vessels, prevents clots and offers protection against free radicals.

Almonds are absolutely packed with Vitamin E and other nuts like peanuts and hazelnuts and sunflower seeds are also good sources. For adults, the recommended daily allowance is 15 mg or 22.4 IU.

K

Blood coagulation, the process by which blood clots is dependent upon K. Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli and brussel sprouts are the best natural sources.

The recommended daily doses differ for men and women at 120 mcg for men and 90 mcg for women. Research is finding that vitamin K has been shown to help improve insulin resistance in older men.  

Investigated: Magnesium

 

The mineral magnesium is found all throughout the earth, sea and in plants, animals and humans. It’s the fourth most abundant mineral found in the human body and is actively involved in more than 600 functions of our systems. It helps to convert what we eat into energy, assists in the creation and repair of DNA and RNA, plays a part in muscle movement, works to create new proteins from amino acids and regulates neurotransmitters sending messages in the brain and nervous system.

During exercise, magnesium helps to transport blood sugar to the muscles. During a strenuous workout, lactic acid can build up in the muscles and cause cramping but increasing your intake of magnesium can help dispose of the lactic acid.

Recent studies indicate that nearly half of the citizens of the United States and Europe get less than the daily recommended amount. Lack of this essential mineral has been linked to migraines and muscle fatigue. It’s also been linked to insulin resistance, one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes. The muscles and liver cells cannot properly absorb sugar and magnesium plays such an important role in this process. Since high levels of insulin also results in loss of the nutrient through the urine, increasing intake is important.

Magnesium deficiency has also been studied as a contributing factor to depression and anxiety. One thought is that the tightening or cramping of muscles triggers the “fight or flight” response, releasing epinephrine and cortisol. It’s is also one of the few nutrients that can increase neuroplasicity, the ability to create and repair brain cells and make new neural connections.

Magnesium can be found in foods such as pumpkin seeds, fish like mackerel, salmon and halibut, black beans, avocados, dark chocolate, almonds, cashews, quinoa, swiss chard and spinach. Load more of these foods into your diet to reap the many benefits of magnesium.

#TBT – Dill – History and Benefits

Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We’ll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. Today we focus on the wonders of dill!

These days, dill is known primarily as a pickling herb and though it is common in many gardens, it’s not widely used for medicinal properties. However, since ancient times and still today it’s been used by herbalists as a digestive aid to ease gas, infant colic, to induce sleep and treat kidney problems.

In the ancient Egyptian Ebers papyrus from around 1500 BCE, lists dill as an ingredient for a painkiller mixture. The Greeks are said to have used fronds of dill to cover their eyes to induce sleep and even it’s name is derived from a Norse word “dylla” which means “to lull” or soothe. Modern German studies have shown the herb to be an effective treatment against intestinal bacteria.

The seeds of the plant contain an oil which has antibacterial properties which help destroy the intestinal bacteria that lead to ulcers and other intestinal issues. The herb contains stimulating essential oils that activate digestive juices and is helpful in relieving constipation. It’s also very effective at combating halitosis and in India, the seeds are often chewed to treat bad breath.

It has also been commonly used throughout history by nursing mothers to increase milk production and deter colic in newborns. The essential oils of the herb can also help with the stimulation of hormones helping to keep menstrual cycles regular. The plant is also a good source of calcium, helping to reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women.

In addition to all of the above, dill is also a good source of fiber, manganese, magnesium and iron.

To store fresh dill, it’s a good idea to keep it wrapped in a damp towel or stems in a glass of water in the refrigerator. It is a fragile herb and therefore will only keep for a couple of days. You can also freeze it, whole or chopped in an airtight baggie or container. Dill seeds, if stored in a sealed container and kept in a cool, dry place, will stay fresh for about six months.

Cucumber Dill Greek Yogurt Salad

Creamy Cauliflower Dill Soup

Pickled Dill Green Beans

Preventing and Easing Constipation

Constipation, infrequent or difficult to pass bowel movements, can cause abdominal pain and bloating. It’s a pretty common complaint among those eating a low fiber diet. Foods such as eggs, red meat and cheese are low-fiber/high fat and slow down digestion. Balancing out your diet with plenty of high fiber foods help to rev up that sluggish digestive system and is one of the best ways of preventing and treating constipation.

There are other less well-known causes of constipation. Certain medications such as narcotic painkillers, antacids, blood pressure medications and allergy medicines containing antihistamines can be the culprit behind constipation. People suffering from hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland is underactive, are dealing with a slowed metabolic process. This includes the digestive system.

Lack of exercise also plays a major role in constipation. Too much sitting can really slow down the system whereas activity and good muscle development helps to keep digestion running smoothly.

Back to those high fiber foods! The average American only consumes around 13 grams of fiber per day which doesn’t even come close to the recommended amount. Women ages 18 to 50 should be getting 25 grams per day and men in the same age bracket should have 38 grams. After age 50, the numbers go down slightly at 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men. The most fiber filled foods include fruits (pears, berries, apples and oranges), vegetables (carrots, potatoes, squash, broccoli and Brussels sprouts), beans, lentils, split peas, whole grain breads, brown rice, oatmeal, nuts and seeds.

Last but certainly not least is making sure you are fully hydrated. The digestive process slows down considerably when we aren’t taking in enough water and dehydration can lead to constipation. Using re:iimmune helps to optimize your digestive tract as it contains L-Glutamine which draws water over the intestinal wall and aids in absorption. We’ve also included probiotics, friendly bacteria, and a prebiotic food source to encourage healthy bacterial growth. Kick constipation to the curb with proper hydration, a high fiber diet and plenty of exercise!