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November 28, 2009

Healthy Holiday Eats: Yummy Crab Salad

The holiday season shouldn’t be an eating free-for-all, whether you’re pregnant, nursing, or not!  When you’re expecting, you may feel entitled to giving yourself some extra leeway for celebrating: a few sugar cookies, another glass of eggnog, or just a couple more pigs in a blanket, perhaps?

Surely, like everyone else, you will eat more from now until New Year’s Day, but try to make those calories work for you.  Check out this delicious and nutritious crab salad from dietitian Ellie Krieger’s book, The Food You Crave. If you don’t already own this book I suggest you snag one for your cookbook collection, and buy copies to give as holiday gifts. The book is full of wonderful recipes and beautiful photography.

I made this crab salad for an appetizer on Thanksgiving, and it was a big hit. The best part is that I doubled the recipe and we had leftovers the next day.
This easy recipe is festive, and it’s light, so you won’t feel bogged down. Plus, cooked crab is low in fat and is a source of omega-3 fats, which are necessary for your growing baby’s brain development and vision.

The original recipe is called Crab Salad in Crisp Wonton Cups.  I did not use the wonton cups. Instead, I put the crab salad into endive leaves, which provided a nice crunch.

Here’s the recipe for the crab salad:

1/2 pound lump crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1 stalk celery, finely diced (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup peeled and finely diced ripe mango (I used frozen, thawed mango)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup coarsely chopped radicchio

For the Dressing
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil (I used half olive oil and half canola oil)

In a medium sized bowl, gently toss together the crab with the celery, mango, scallions, cilantro and radicchio.

For the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Add the oil and whisk until well combined.

Add the dressing to the salad and gently toss to combine.

Enjoy!

November 24, 2009

Holiday Food Safety for Pregnant Women and the Ones they Love

It may be the holiday season, but that’s no reason to give food safety any time off. In fact, if you’re pregnant, just the opposite. Time to step up your vigilence.

When you’re expecting, you’re more vulnerable to the effects of foodborne illness (getting sick from contaminated food.) That’s because pregnant women have weaker immune systems, and contaminated food threatens your health, your unborn child’s.

But enough of the grim stuff! It is possible to stay safe while celebrating the holiday season. Here’s how:

1. Keep it clean.  Before handling any food, lather up with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Clean your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops thoroughly with dishwashing soap before and after using.  Rinse raw fruits and vegetables under cold running water and use a small vegetable brush on rough-skinned fruits and veggies to remove surface dirt.

2. Shop wisely.  Make sure the food you buy is in good condition. Examine expiration dates for the freshest meat, poultry and dairy products. Go directly home after shopping - do not stop to run errands. Refrigerate and freeze perishables as soon as you can after purchasing.

3.  Keep foods separate. Segregate raw animal foods, such as meat, seafood, and eggs, from ready-to-eat foods, including salad greens and chopped fruit.  Use a separate plate for cooked food.

4. Cook food properly.  Do not eaInvest in a reliable food thermometer and cook and reheat foods properly using these guidelines:

Whole poultry (take temperature in the thigh): 180˚F

Chicken or turkey breast: 170˚F

Ground chicken or turkey: 165˚F

Ground beef, veal, lamb, and pork: 160˚F

Pork roasts and chops: 145˚F

Reheat all leftovers to 165˚F.

5. Avoid unpasteurized products. Put down the homemade eggnog, unless it was made with pasteurized milk. Ditto for apple cider and soft cheeses. Stay away from smoked fish, such as smoked salmon. It may contain bacteria.

6. When in doubt, throw it out. Toss food that’s been sitting out at room temperature (70˚F) for two hours or more. It’s not worth the risk.

November 19, 2009

Folic Acid: Good For You and Your Baby

Filed under: Nutrition During Pregnancy — Tags: , , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 5:34 pm

I was watching TV yesterday when I saw a segment about the possible link between folic acid and cancer. Negative stories about folic acid concern me because I think they can be confusing to women who are constantly being told they need folic acid every day during their childbearing years.  Folic acid is vital for preventing certain birth defects that occur within the first month of pregnancy, and it is also necessary for the entire eight months of pregnancy after that. Mom needs folic acid for a healthy heart, too.

A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association is the source of research suggesting a link between folic acid and cancer. I’ve read the study and its results have no bearing on how much folic acid women who are capable of having a child should take every day. The levels of folic acid - 800 micrograms -given to people in the study was nearly double the suggested amounts for adults in the US. In addition, the effects of  folic acid take by itself was not studied, as folic acid was always taken in combination with high doses of vitamin B12, vitamin B6, or both. That makes it  impossible to directly relate taking folic acid to cancer risk.

Here’s what you should know: Women who are not pregnant or nursing need 400 micrograms of folic acid a day - about the amount found in your garden variety, over-the-counter multivitamin.  You need 6oo micrograms daily once pregnancy occurs, and 500 micrograms daily when nursing. Since many common grain products made in the US are fortified with folic acid, you’ll easily reach your prepregnancy and pregnancy goals by taking a multivitamin and eating a balanced diet that includes fortified bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.

Remember, there’s no need to go overboard on any vitamin.  When you’re dealing with the health of a developing child, just because a little is good does not mean a lot is better.

Bottom line: Keep taking folic acid, for you and your baby’s health.

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