Ask me anything: Food and Nutrition Edition


If you’ve been around the blogosphere, you may see that many bloggers are hosting “Ask me anything” posts where they answer personal and professional questions. But since many of my readers come to Eat Well with Janel Blog for recipes, nutrition tidbits, or possibly even to see what Funk thinks of my latest recipe, I’d rather answer questions you have about…food! Here is my first Food Q&A. Have any food or nutrition questions you need answered? Write them in the comment section and I’ll see what I can do!

Q: I keep my nail polish in the fridge to make it last longer. Could this affect everything else in the fridge with the fumes?

A: I think you’re safe as long as you don’t leave the nail polish bottle open or go painting the inside of your fridge a nice shade of Opi Tickle me Pink.

Q: I store potatoes in a cabinet. I went to get them out after a few months and there were 1″ roots or something else coming out of them. Does this mean it’s trash? How long can they stay in a cabinet for? Is there a better way to store them rather then the bag it comes in?

A: I’ve wondered this myself. The roots are fine, though you probably don’t want to eat them. I just cut mine off and as long as my potato is still firm – not soft and wrinkly – it’s good to eat. Avoid eating potatoes that have turned green or have green sprouts as this can actually be toxic!…but you’d have to eat a good amount of green potatoes for this to happen.

Proper potato storage is key and the general recommendation is to keep taters in a cool, humid, dark environment. This is a great piece from the University of Idaho about potato storage – who knew there was so much to it?!

Try to buy only the potatoes you plan to eat in the next few weeks to avoid potato overload with roots growing everywhere.

Q: What’s the deal with sponges? How often are you supposed to replace them? Is it true you can put them in the microwave or dish washer to sanitize them? Should you have separate sponges for different purposes; toilets, bathroom, washing dishes, counter tops, etc.?

A: Good question – sponges gross me out. I’m no expert here, but I’ll offer my best advice. Sponges are absolute breeding grounds for grossness – germs, bacteria, the works. I like to keep a separate sponge for dishes, one for countertops, and other sponges/wipes for other cleaning purposes like bathrooms. If you’re wiping up raw meat ingredients, like raw egg or juice from a raw kitchen, a disposable wipe is best – don’t use the sponge. I replace mine when they start to look ratty, well-used, and/or just plain old dirty. It could be a month, could be more or less. But I do microwave the sponges to help sanitize them which has been shown to kill 99% of bacteria on sponges. Make sure you put a soaking wet sponge in the microwave (to prevent fire!) on high for two minutes then let it cool, as it will be too hot to touch for a while. You can also sanitize them in the dishwasher. Every time you use a sponge, make sure to ring it out, rinse out the soap, and leave it to dry on a rack out of the sink.

Q: What kind of cheese do you recommend to go along with crackers? Lately, I’ve been getting the Cabot 75% Reduced Fat Sharp.

A: Although I’m not a big cheese eater, I recommend to all my clients Cabot reduced fat varieties. You’ve got good taste! They’re the best reduced fat cheeses I’ve tried and I love the different flavors. Keep in mind a serving of cheese is 1 ounce, and just because its reduced fat doesn’t mean you can eat more of it! Cheese is high in the unhealthy saturated fat, so eat sparingly. Some of the more potent (and stinky) cheeses are great to use because even a little bit adds a lot of flavor. My rule for cheese is this: if the meal/recipe doesn’t require cheese, leave it out. That means unless you’re making grilled cheese, mac and cheese, lasagna with cheese, etc. – leave it off. Sandwiches, soups, pasta, etc. don’t need the added fat and calories from cheese, but if you love the added flavor, use it in moderation.

Q: What if you don’t know what temperature and how long to cook something in the oven? Is there a safe approach? Like 350 degrees?

A: This is where google comes in handy! Cooking meat, especially, needs to be done properly to avoid eating uncooked meat. I think my college food safety professor would not be happy with my current lack of knowledge in this area (hey, I don’t cook meat!) but when in doubt – look it up. And, get a meat thermometer. It’ll take the guesswork out of when a food is done. This website and chart are very handy – so print it out and tack it onto you fridge for reference.

Have any more food and nutrition questions? Send ‘em my way!

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