Yes, Takeout And Food Delivery Is Safe — But With Guidelines

I would like to tell you that I’m settling into a new normal during this pandemic, but that would be a big fat lie. I am scared, overwhelmed, sad… I am grieving. I and so many other parents are trying to figure out how to balance our kids’ emotions and our own while trying to work and homeschool our kids. Each day is a long week, and at the end of a long week all I want to do is order dinner from our favorite local pizza or taco place.

But my state of Vermont and many others are ordering people to stay at home. People are starting to rely on food being delivered or available for curbside pick-up. But is this safe? Should I pick up takeout, or even the free meals offered through local restaurants and school programs? The answer is yes. Here’s why it is safe—and necessary—to keep indulging in comfort food from local restaurants.

COVID-19 is a virus that causes respiratory illness and is transmitted most effectively through airborne droplets passed from one person to another when an infected person sneezes or coughs into the air. While people can spread and contract the virus from a surface to themselves by touching it and then touching their mouth, nose, and eyes, that is not the main way it spreads. Here’s what you need to know about food and COVID-19.

Your Food

The CDC, USDA, and FDA have not found evidence that COVID-19 lives on food. “Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission,” says the FDA website. Even if someone infected does cough or sneeze into your food (gross), ingesting respiratory viruses like COVID-19 will not make us sick the way inhaling the virus will. Respiratory viruses spread along the respiratory tract, not the digestive tract. Even if you eat that food by hand, say, fries or a burger, the virus has been diluted by packaging and your own touch, says Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist from North Carolina State University. You would then have to lick your fingers or pick your nose to even come close to transferring the virus. And honestly, you shouldn’t be doing that whether we are in the middle of a pandemic or not.

There is no evidence that says our food is not safe.

Your Food’s Preparer

With any food we want to eat, we have to trust that the person preparing it is following food safety guidelines. Those have been supplemented by the FDA during the pandemic with additional requirements. First of all, sick employees should stay home and follow the CDC’s guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Employees preparing and packaging food are washing and sanitizing hands, wearing gloves, taking extra care to clean surfaces with EPA and FDA approved sanitizers, and are practicing social distancing in the work environment and between customers.

Theresa Bertram, owner of El Gato Cantina, a Mexican restaurant with two locations in Burlington, Vermont, says that she and her staff are going above and beyond what is being recommended by state and city protocols. Bertram says, “We know exactly how and what touches your food and the packaging. Everyone is on board and doing what is expected and more.”

Bertram uses limited staff, and one person per shift is responsible for packaging the to-go orders. Employees are on timed hand-washing schedules, with extra washes as needed. Customers place orders over the phone with a credit card and when food is picked up, they sign a receipt that has been left out with a pen that is sanitized between uses. “We wave and say hello but do not have contact with the customer. Signs are posted so people know what to do and how to keep their space.”

Your Food’s Packaging

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the coronavirus can be detected on porous surfaces like cardboard, paper, or fabrics for up to 24 hours, and on hard surfaces like plastic, glass, copper, and steel for up to 72 hours. But scientists, food safety specialists, and the CDC confirm that the virus is not easily spread via contact with contaminated surfaces. Also, the virus loses strength over time. So, even in the worst case scenario—an infected person sneezes on the packaging your food is in and then hands it to you—you would have to touch that exact spot where the virus lives and then pick your nose, put your fingers in your mouth, or touch your eyes to potentially become infected.

If you are using food delivery services, do it without contact. Pay via the phone or an app and ask your driver to leave your food on the step or at your door. Whether you picked up your food or had it delivered to you, bring it into the house and minimize the places it touches. I have read that some folks place packages in a sink or on a designated counter. Open packages, wash hands for at least 20 seconds, plate your food, and then throw away or recycle packaging. Wash and sanitize the surface that held the packaging and then wash your hands again before you eat.

Your Community

Bertram, like many small business owners, needs and relies on folks to continue to support their favorite local eateries. Restaurant owners are working together to support one another too. “Not everyone will make it through this. It has been so amazing how we have pulled together to help strategize how we can support our employees, the community and still stay viable. The community has been very supportive [by] ordering takeout and delivery; they are tipping well which really helps the staff.” Bertram encourages folks to purchase gift cards too. Even if you’re still worried about leaving your home for pick-up or don’t want to have food delivered, money spent now can be redeemed on meals later, when we aren’t under such strict social distancing rules.

To minimize crowds at grocery stores, use delivery services like Instacart or apps run by your local stores. And please, take advantage of free meals for your kids offered through schools and local organizations. Federal and state funding for these programs is typically based on the number of people who use them. More use equals more funding. Even if you don’t think you “need” a free meal, there are plenty of people who do; your participation keeps food available to the food insecure folks in your town and it reduces the stigma around the idea of needing a “handout.” Consider it a hand-up, and we all could use a hand and a break right now. It’s a relief to not worry about morning snack or lunch for my kids during the week. And it is minimizing my need to go to the grocery store.

Give yourself a break, support a local business, and order some tacos tonight. It’s safe and good for everyone.

But wash your hands. And don’t pick your nose.

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Here’s How You Can Feed Your Family Healthy Meals (Without Leaving the House & Going Bananas)

Our kids, as much as we love them, are hangry little nuggets of emotion when it comes to what they will and won’t eat. One day they’re human vacuums who will eat anything and the next they’re practically on a hunger strike because a single rice kernel touched one cube of cheese.

As human moms and not robot chefs, dinner is a thing that seems to gnaw at us every single day. After all, dinner is more than just putting food on a plate — there’s the planning, shopping, putting it away, bringing it back out, cooking it, and the final hurdle of serving it. If you’re exhausted by reading about dinner, we’re all exhausted from doing it. (Even if we haven’t left the house.)

There’s Definitely An Easier Way To Make Dinner (During Regular Life and Can’t-Leave-The-House Life)

After a hectic day at work and an evening spent feeding and caring for her son, Jennifer Chow found herself up until midnight washing, chopping, prepping, and cooking her son’s meals for the next day. She knew there had to be a better way, and the idea for Nurture Life was born.

Nurture Life delivers nutritionally balanced and delicious meals for the family straight to your door — and they take less than two minutes from refrigerator to plate. Oh, did you hear that? It was you sighing with sweet relief.

With So Many Stressors Right Now, A Meal Subscription Could Really Help

A weekly Nurture Life subscription provides families with meals for all ages and stages of development. We’re talking nutritious, balanced, easy meal options straight to your door. Every meal is freshly made, and freezes easily. It’s like Nurture Life is coming straight for your heart too because, seriously, did all of our wishes just get granted or what?!

With a focus on organic produce, antibiotic-free proteins, and whole grains you can feel good about what you’re serving your family instead of shame-serving them something you hope they think is edible. Plus, Nurture Life never adds preservatives or artificial flavors, which is really like doing Salt Bae but with sprinkles on this already everything-we-ever-wanted-meal-subscription cake.

Basically, We Only Need To Show Up To The Table (YASSS!)

Tired of having a self-feeder eat Cheerios all day? For our tiniest 10-24 month humans, finger-food meals are cut to be big enough for little fingers to pick up, small enough to prevent choking, and soft enough to mush without molars. Think turkey meatloaf, broccoli, pasta fagioli, and salmon cakes, all in pea sized bites. Plus, they are brightly colored and packed with critical nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to power the rapid growth and development taking place at this age.

Older kids get meals like Chicken Meatballs with Pasta & Vegetables, Bolognese with Penne (that include a full serving of veggies) and even Teriyaki Salmon with Rainbow Veggie Rice.

Nurture Life understands concerns about allergies and diet restrictions, so all their products are peanut and tree nut-free (except coconut) and made in a nut-free facility. When you’re selecting your meals, you can use the dietary filter function to be sure your meals are free from wheat, dairy, egg, and other restrictions.

What Makes These Folks So Sure My Kids Will Like This Stuff?

Cooking for kids requires a special understanding that when a child approaches a dish, it’s with a fresh palate. They haven’t been exposed to certain flavors or textures, so each dish is an opportunity to shape their perspective. The dishes are kid and parent tested, and the registered dietitians and chefs that create the meals take feedback to heart.

Nurture Life makes it easy to get your kids the nutrients they need today, as well as teaching them to love making healthy food choices for life. And because they know how the only constant in a parent’s life is change, there’s no commitment — skip weeks or cancel anytime.

Check out all the meal plans online to learn how Nurture Life can make your life easier.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be stressful. Nurture Life provides healthy, balanced, easy meal options to feed your child at any age. Get 25% off your first two orders with the code SCARYMOMMY. New customers only, applied at checkout.

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9 Best Shopping List Apps To Download Before Your Next Grocery Run

You know the drill: you need one specific item, so you go to the grocery store to get it, only to stock up on everything else and forgetting the item you actually need. This has happened to us more times than we can count. But the good news is that there are several grocery shopping apps that can make that little oversight into ancient (well, recent) history. Sure, you could go with a good old-fashioned pen-and-paper grocery list, but it’s really easy to forget it and leave it at home. When you use these apps, the list will be on your phone and (hopefully) you won’t leave that behind. So enable your phone’s wifi and download the best grocery shopping list apps now (or at least pick one and try that).

1. Our Groceries

The Our Groceries app synchronizes your entire family’s shopping lists. So let’s say you’re heading to the store and your son realizes he’s out of jerky. He can add it to the list, and you’ll see it before you leave the store without dried meat.

2. List Ease

Like the Our Groceries app, you can synch up your family’s shopping lists. But List Ease also lets you virtually clip coupons and add them to the list, so they’re ready whenever anyone needs them.

3. Out of Milk

The Out of Milk app synchs up lists too, and also allows you to add items using Alexa or the Google voice assistant. It also comes with handy list templates to help you know what you’re going to need for things like party planning, cleaning your house, and a plant-based product app.

4. Flipp

The Flipp app has all the bells and whistles of the other apps on this list, but with an added bonus. Flipp automatically searches for coupons for your favorite grocery store brands, and scans your local supermarket’s circular so you know what’s on sale and when to stock up.

5. Grocery iQ

If you’ve ever been grocery shopping and come across a product that you don’t necessarily need right now but could be interested in in the future, the Grocery iQ app is for you. Just snap a photo of the product and the app will add it to your next shopping list.

6. Grocery Pal

If you’re always on the hunt for supermarket bargains, you’re going to want to download the Grocery Pal right now. It takes the guess work out of figuring out which store around you (including big box stores like Target and Walmart) has the best prices on the products you love.

7. Buy Me a Pie

The Buy Me a Pie app doesn’t only help you create lists, but it also allows you to customize those lists based on how the aisles are set up at your regular grocery store. Gone will be the days of forgetting something in the produce section and having to wind your way upstream through the grocery store to get the garlic.

8. BigOven

The BigOven app is what you get when you cross shopping lists and social media. Sure, you can organize your own list, but you can also compare yours with friends’ lists to see what they’ve been buying and cooking for some inspiration.

9. Yummly

Though not technically a grocery shopping list app at its core, Yummly lets you scan the products you have at home to figure out what you can make from the pantry, fridge, and freezer. It then automatically adds anything else you may need for a recipe to your shopping list.

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Edible Cookie Dough Recipe

How to make edible cookie dough. This chocolate chip cookie dough with rainbow sprinkles is very easy and delicious. No eggs needed! Easy Edible Cookie Dough Recipe This simple Edible Cookie Dough Recipe is the perfect no bake treat! Oh my goodness, this is so good! After a long week, my kids and I wanted […]

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Twitter Thread Shows How We’re Eating Salads All Wrong

Let’s talk about salads. It’s hard to feel lukewarm about salads — you either love them or you hate them. But they are very universal. You can have a salad as a side or a full meal. When it comes to making one, the possibilities are endless. Few foods are quite as adaptable as the salad. In spite of this, a lot of people still find salads boring. They lack a certain something that allows them the respect they deserve. Perhaps it’s because people don’t put enough care into their salad-making process. A recent viral Twitter thread really nails the ways we can elevate our salads to the next level.

Twitter user Elan Gale gets pretty real about why people don’t like salads. It’s not because they’re inherently boring as a meal. Really, it’s because people aren’t making an effort. If you want your salad to be delicious, you have to put in the time to make it so. Just throwing some salad dressing on a bed of lettuce and adding a veggie or two does not a salad make.

Gale’s first point is a big one. Many salad ingredients don’t have a lot of flavor on their own. If you’re going to add something like tomatoes or cucumbers, you want to hit them with a little salt or pepper to enhance the flavor. An avocado, which is deliciously bland, needs some citrus. Hit it with a squeeze of lemon juice if you don’t want the flavor overpowered.

While what you put in your salad is important, so is your base. Lettuce is important, people! Iceberg lettuce is the equivalent of giving up. No one who cares about themselves uses iceberg lettuce. If you’re doing the bare minimum, go with romaine. But like Gale points out, you can mix it up. Arugula is a little lemony and peppery. Frisee is nice too. Spinach also makes a great salad base or mix.

Not everyone likes spice. Radishes are more mild than a jalapeno. They add a little peppery kick to spice up your salad. Plus a little crunch! If you’re not a fan of spice, try something pickled. The acidity and vinegar from the brine really does add a little something different to your salad. Same with herbs. You may wonder why you need additional greenery after lettuce, but seriously — try it. Parsely, cilantro, dill, and mint are great ones to start with. Basil or scallion are also excellent additions.

CHEESE. You definitely need some sort of cheese. As Gale points out, shredded mozzarella on a salad is boring and bland. He recommends Feta, which is a good option but maybe a little too salty for some people. Goat cheese would also be a delicious option. Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano add a nutty undertone. If you’re going to use a mozzarella type, use Burrata! It’s creamy and delicious and will soak up all the wonderful flavors.

Gale is right — dressing is an important factor. It’s easy to just drown everything in Ranch dressing and call it a day. But then you’re masking all the beautiful delicious salad flavors. Good olive oil, a nice vinegar (balsamic, red wine, or apple cider are great vinegar options), maybe a squeeze of a bright citrus. A little minced garlic also goes a long way. If you choose to make your own dressing, you need an emulsifier to tie it all together. He suggests horseradish, but again, spice. A nice mustard is always a more broadly appealing option.

One important thing he forgets is texture. Crunchy veggies aren’t enough. You need some good crunch, maybe a little smoothness. Croutons are a safe, albeit boring option. Try nuts like almonds and walnuts or sunflower seeds. Want to up the health factor? Flaxseeds. Add dried cranberries for a little sweetness and chewiness. Maybe use peeled orange or grapefruit segments. Don’t be afraid to add red pepper flakes for a little heat. Try olives if you want a little saltiness that won’t overwhelm flavor. Lentils, black or kidney beans add some different textures as well.

Salads don’t have to be boring. If you take the time to put a little care into them, you’ll find they’re actually quite delicious. They’re one of the few foods you can experiment with and not have it go completely wrong. It’s all about trying new things and seeing what tastes best for you.

The post Twitter Thread Shows How We’re Eating Salads All Wrong appeared first on Scary Mommy.

One Italian Town Had Wine Pouring From Its Faucets Instead Of Water

Unfortunately, it only lasted a couple of hours

Italy isn’t a country at the top of many people’s vacation lists right now, but what if we told you there was actual red wine pouring from faucets instead of water? Would that change your mind?

It’s not the work of Jesus Christ himself but a “technical malfunction” at the Setticani winery near the Castelvetro area of Modena in Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region that had residents filling up their pitchers with a nice Lambrusco instead of water. The malfunction was caused by a faulty valve in the washing circuit within the bottling line which seeped through the town’s waterline.

Unfortunately, as with all good things, the wine on tap was short-lived. The glitch lasted about three hours and impacted about 20 homes, said Giorgia Mezzacqui, deputy mayor of Castelvetro. But the malfunction did mean those lucky residents got about 1,000 liters of ready-to-be-bottled wine straight from source-to-faucet. It’s like farm-to-table — but better.

 

The incident may not have lasted long, but it provided a brief respite for residents thinking non-stop about the coronavirus, which has hit northern Italy the hardest. “At a time where we have very little to smile about, I’m glad we brought some levity to others,” Mezzacqui told CNN. “Hopefully, some day, they’ll remember us and will want to come visit us.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be great if you were, say, doing a load of washing at the time, but coming out your kitchen faucet straight into a bottle, now that’s the stuff dreams are made of. One could even argue taking a shower when it happened wouldn’t be too shabby either. Sure, you wouldn’t be able to collect it (well, except for in your mouth), but it would make for the world’s most relaxing shower ever.

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The local water board sent out technicians as quickly as possible (good for the winery, bad for residents), but not before families had “bottled as much of the precious liquid as they could to enjoy later at a lunch or dinner along with other typical Modenese specialities,” according to the Gazetta di Modena.

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The coronavirus outbreak has paralyzed and disrupted economic and social life in Italy, particularly in Castelvetro, a popular destination for food and wine enthusiasts coming to visit from across the globe. But since the COVID-19 outbreak, 80 percent of tourism destinations in the region have had cancellations, Mezzacqui said. Today, Nicola Zingaretti, the leader of the governing coalition’s Democratic Party announced that he had contracted the virus. “Well, it’s arrived; I also have the coronavirus,” The New York Times reported.

We could all use moments of levity like this right about now. If they could come in wine form, even better.

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7 Easy Instant Pot Dinner Recipes for the Week

When you need a week of quick and easy dinner recipes, these Instant Pot dinners are the perfect weekly meal plan. Choose from hearty soups, chicken, pork or turkey dinners. 7 Easy Instant Pot Dinner Recipes for the Week I think you’re going to love these Easy Instant Pot Dinner Recipes for the week! With […]

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