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Diane Minguez
1110 North Broad Street
Lansdale  PA 19446
 Phone: 267-575-6818
Office Phone: 215-362-2260
Cell: 267-575-6818
Fax: 267-354-6882 
dminguez@remax.net
Diane Minguez

My Blog

Common Cooking Blunders

October 1, 2012 3:06 am

We all have a role to play in ensuring our homes are food-safe. Research findings reveal that despite the fact that a majority of adults feel confident they understand and follow safe food handling procedures, a sizeable number do not consistently follow certain safe food handling practices.

Here are some common cooking blunders:

• The quick wash up (or lack of wash up). Only 50 percent of consumers reported washing their hands for 20 seconds, before and after handling food. You've heard it before, but we all need the reminder - wash your hands before cooking, and during cooking, especially when switching between handling different foods. Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds - that's 2 choruses of “Happy Birthday” (hummed under your breath).

• Skipping the fruit and veggie wash up. Be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly in cool drinkable water, including those you peel or cut like melons, oranges, and cucumbers.

• Bringing meats up to room temperature before grilling. This is a common “cooking show” recommendation that really has no benefits and is loaded with the risk of promoting the growth of harmful bacteria. Keep foods chilled in the fridge at 4â—¦C until ready to cook - and that includes marinating too.

• Cooking by color. You can't rely on the “color test” to know when meats are done. Cook meat and poultry to proper temperatures to know for sure, using a digital food thermometer to test for doneness. It's a pretty simple step and saves a lot of “doneness debates/arguments” that happen at the grill. Only 15 percent of people consistently use a food thermometer.

• Using the same cooking equipment for raw as for cooked. Be sure to wash up barbecue tongs after flipping steaks, burgers, chicken, kabobs, etc. during cooking, and before you use them to take food off the grill to serve. Or better yet, have two pairs of tongs - one for raw and one for cooked. The same goes for cutting boards of course!

For more information and tips on how to keep your home food-safe, visit www.befoodsafe.ca.

Source: Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Important Moving Tips for First-Time Homeowners

September 28, 2012 2:58 am

All of the paperwork is signed and completed, and you've jumped over every hurdle imaginable. Congratulations! The home is yours. Once everything is locked in and you're ready to move, it's easy to overlook a few key last-minute tasks that will definitely affect your first night in your new home. Though these may seem obvious, heed these common moving tips in order to ensure that your move and first few nights are as smooth as possible.

Don't forget to pack the essentials in an easy-to-find place. Sure, you were diligent with your packing, but make sure you know where common necessities are. If you arrive at your new home and don't want to fully unpack just yet, at least have important items close to you at all times. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, soap, toilet paper and more should be in clearly marked boxes and close at hand. If movers are delivering your belongings the following morning, make sure you don't head to the new house without these items on your person. Pack a small bag as if you were going on vacation and be sure to bring everything you might need for the night.

Make sure everything in your house is in working order. The house is gorgeous, but appearances can be deceiving. Confirm that the plumbing, water and heating work before you pack the car with the kids and drive over. Confirm that everything is turned on and working as it should a few days before your planned departure date. Once you arrive to your properly functioning home, you'll be glad you did.

Remember to sign over the utilities into your name before you move in. Again, you don't want any bad surprises on your first night. Make sure the water and the electric bills are in your name so that you don't show up to your new home and have to sit in the dark playing board games. Excitement will be high, so don't let a simple slip of the mind ruin the thrill of your first night at home.

Don't forget these important tips so that you can start enjoying your home as soon as possible.

Source: blog.movers.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Foods with Digestive Health Support Keep Pets Happy Healthy

September 28, 2012 2:58 am

Pets, like humans, need a well-rounded diet, full of vegetables, premium proteins and vitamins. Buying your pets high-quality food should ensure they receive all the nutrients they need. But if pets aren’t digesting that food correctly, they may as well be eating low-quality food with the inexpensive fillers you’ve been trying to avoid.

Research shows 70 percent of a pet’s immune system lies in the digestive tract. Proper digestion and a healthy digestive tract are essential to maintaining whole body health. If a pet’s digestive tract isn’t in peak condition it can prevent the nutrients in food from digesting properly and lead to a number of different illnesses.

To ensure your pet’s digestive tract is working properly, look for a high-quality, natural food with a digestive health support system that includes probiotics, prebiotics, natural fibers and easily digestive enzymes.

Probiotics are the good bacteria that help keep the immune system healthy. Humans often get probiotics from things like yogurt. Check with your pet food company to ensure your pet’s food includes probiotics and prebiotics. Prebiotics stimulate the growth and maintenance of good bacteria, like probiotics, in your pet’s digestive tract.

Just as fiber plays an important role in human digestive health, it also plays an integral role in your pet’s digestive health. Fiber-rich foods such as oatmeal and flaxseed promote digestive regularity. Digestive enzymes help organs break down food to ensure your pet is absorbing the most nutrients from their food. Digestive enzymes also help reduce stress on organs, which is very important for aging pets.
Some pets may also need a grain-free food to help them digest their food properly. Be sure to look for a grain-free food that contains high-quality, natural protein and no fillers, as well as a complete digestive health support system.

To avoid digestive upset, be sure to switch your pet to a new food slowly. Generally, a transition over seven to ten days will help your pet's stomach adjust to the new formula.

Source: Holistic Select

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Value-Seeking Americans Refuse to Swap Quality for Low Prices

September 28, 2012 2:58 am

More Americans than ever are choosing natural and/or organic foods according to the fifth annual Whole Foods Market® Food Shopping Trend Tracker Survey. The research revealed that nearly three out of four Americans (73 percent) don't want to compromise on the quality of the food they buy regardless of current food prices and nearly two-thirds (64 percent) describe themselves as "value seekers" when it comes to grocery shopping.

Nearly three out of four Americans (71 percent) prefer to buy natural and/or organic foods over conventional foods if prices are comparable. One in four Americans (27 percent) are devoting more than a quarter of their grocery dollars to natural and/or organic products, up 35 percent from four years ago.

Further, the research disclosed that many Americans are willing to pay more for foods that meet certain criteria:

-Nearly half (47 percent) are willing to pay higher prices for locally produced foods.
-Nearly a third (32 percent) are willing to pay more for foods with no artificial ingredients, preservatives or colorings.
-Nearly one out of three (30 percent) are willing to pay more for meats raised with no antibiotics or added growth hormones and one in four (24 percent) are willing to pay more for meats raised under humane animal husbandry standards.

Aside from price, a majority of Americans say the overall quality (88 percent) and selection (85 percent) of products, regular sales and promotions (76 percent) and trust in the grocery retailers (76 percent) are very or fairly important when grocery shopping.

Source: Whole Foods Market

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Luxury is Back for Home Remodeling

September 27, 2012 2:54 am

The RemodelOrMove.com Fall 2012 Remodeling Sentiment Report documents a continuing increase in the scale of planned remodels for homeowners. Multi-year highs in the stock market, home prices that are inching up, record low interest rates and pent-up demand for home maintenance are fueling this increase.

Homeowners' growing preference for using luxury home products is a noteworthy trend. This trend indicates that the remodeling industries will recover top down, with the higher-end products increasing in use disproportionately when compared with the average and economy products. This trend will probably continue until the economic turnaround becomes stronger and more widespread
Details from the report that indicate that "luxury" is coming back for home remodeling:

-Homeowners are describing the materials they will use in their remodel as "expensive" at the highest rate since 2008.

-The scope and scale of remodels is the largest since 2007, with an average remodeling cost estimated to be $100,000.

-35 percent, the highest number since 2008, of respondents are reporting that the economy is not affecting their plans to remodel.

-73 percent, the highest percentage since the report started in 2006, are planning to hire a general contractor. As the scale of the projects increase, the use of a general contractor typically increases as well.

Items of interest:

-Kitchen remodeling takes over as the number one favorite remodeling project for the first time since 2008. This shift is another indicator that "luxury" is returning to what was a "practical" remodeling market. Many homeowners view a kitchen remodel as a luxury while a bathroom addition or remodel can be sometimes justified as a necessity.

-The wealth effect is helping to fuel this return to luxury as average home equity reported by homeowners taking this survey was $123,000 – the highest since 2009.

-The decision to remodel or move is increasingly difficult as the difference between the average cost of remodeling, $100,000, and the average price difference between their current home and their dream home, $113,000, become almost the same. The near-equal costs of remodeling their current home and the cost to sell what they have and move to a new home makes the remodel or move decision much more difficult.

Source: RemodelOrMove.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Stay Safe in and After the Summer Sun

September 27, 2012 2:54 am

Each year more and more of us choose to holiday abroad, with cheap flights and the lure of guaranteed sun, sand and sea forming an irresistible combination. But with increased exposure to the blue skies and sunshine of exotic destinations comes an increased risk of harmful UV and sun damage.

After a surge of health campaigns in recent years, we're thankfully becoming more aware than ever of the real and serious risks of sun damage. But as well as the obvious - and major - concerns including skin cancer, there are many other common conditions, which can have devastating effects on the skin. Over exposure to harmful ultra violet light can also cause conditions including Lentigines, commonly known as sun spots; Seborrheic Keratosis, a benign wart-like growth which appears on the face and chest; and Actinic Keratosis, a precancerous growth which can appear in the form of dry skin lesions or patches on the skin.

Naturally, the longer and more frequently skin is exposed to harmful UV rays, the higher the chances are of sustaining long term skin damage, but it's never too late to start looking after skin and protecting it from further damage.

While it's impossible to avoid the sun completely - and some exposure can boost vital Vitamin D levels - leading skin experts recommend covering up as much as possible in the sun. This doesn't mean dressing head to toe, but applying sun screen whenever skin is exposed to the sun, and choosing the appropriate SPF factor to ensure complete protection; at present the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises people to use a minimum SPF of 15 - although leading medics are calling for this to be increased.

After spending time in the sun, at any time of year, it's also vital to ensure skin is thoroughly rehydrated. Indeed, on a day-to-day basis, the hands and face are exposed any time you're outside (don't be fooled into thinking cloudy skies mean you're protected) so using a nourishing face and hand cream will keep your skin hydrated.

Source: The Body Shop

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Survey Reveals Professions That Need Coffee the Most

September 27, 2012 2:54 am

National Coffee Day is Saturday, September 29, and according to a new survey commissioned by Dunkin' Donuts and CareerBuilder®, food preparation and service workers are the professions that need coffee the most, followed by scientists and sales representatives. The survey results also show that coffee plays a major role in helping professionals perk up at work, as 43 percent of those who drink coffee claim they are less productive without a cup of Joe.

The survey was conducted from August 13 to September 6, 2012 and included more than 4,100 workers nationwide. According to the results, the professions with the highest proportions of workers stating they are less productive without coffee vary widely. Those who need coffee to get through the workday the most are:

1) Food Preparation/Service Workers
2) Scientists
3) Sales Representatives
4) Marketing/Public Relations Professionals
5) Nurses (Nurse, Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant)
6) Editors/Writers/Media Workers
7) Business Executives
8) Teachers/Instructors (K-12)
9) Engineering Technicians/Support
10) IT Managers/Network Administrators

The survey also shows other ways that coffee fits into people's "daily grind" in the workplace. For example:

-Let's drink two: Sixty-three percent (63%) of workers who drink coffee actually drink two cups or more each workday. Twenty-eight percent (28%) drink three cups or more.

-Coffee helps younger workers stay productive: The majority of younger workers need coffee for energy and motivation, as 62 percent of workers aged 18 to 24 say they are less productive without coffee, with 58 percent of workers aged 25 to 34 making the same claim.

-Workers in the Northeast are cup champions: Fifty-five percent (55%) of workers claim to drink at least one cup of coffee each workday. Geographically, 64 percent of workers in the Northeast drink at least one cup per day, compared to the South at 54 percent and the Midwest and West at 51 percent.

-Higher productivity boost for women: Overall, 43 percent of workers who drink coffee claim they are less productive without their cup of Joe. Forty-seven percent (47%) of female workers claim they are less productive without coffee, compared to 40 percent of male workers.

Source: Dunkin' Donuts, CareerBuilder®

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Special Handling Advice for Ready-to-Eat Refrigerated Foods

September 26, 2012 2:50 am

Listeria has been in the news recently. This foodborne bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, and it causes listeriosis, an illness that can take a few days or even weeks to appear and may include fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea or upset stomach. Listeriosis can be particularly harmful to at-risk groups. These groups include pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, older adults, and other people with weakened immune systems, such as individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease, and transplant patients. These people are not only more likely to contract listeriosis, but are also more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die.

How to Prevent Listeriosis
-The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend that consumers follow these three easy steps to help prevent listeriosis:

-Use an appliance thermometer and keep the refrigerator at 40°F (4°C) or below because Listeria will multiply faster at refrigerator temperatures above 40°F.

-Use ready-to-eat, refrigerated foods as soon as possible. The longer these foods are stored in the refrigerator, the more time Listeria has to multiply, which means larger amounts of bacteria in the foods.
Clean the refrigerator regularly. Listeria can spread from one food to another through spills in the refrigerator – so keeping the refrigerator clean is very important.

If you are a person at increased risk of listeriosis, follow these guidelines:

-Don't eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, or fermented or dry sausages unless they are heated to 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.

-Avoid getting fluid from hot dog and lunch meat packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.

-Do not eat refrigerated pate or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter or from the refrigerated section of a store. If the label says a food does not need refrigeration, like canned or shelf-stable pate and meat spreads, it is safe to eat. Refrigerate after opening.

-Do not drink unpasteurized milk.

-Do not eat soft cheese such as feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or panela unless it is labeled "MADE WITH PASTEURIZED MILK."

-Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it's in a cooked dish, such as a casserole, or it is a canned or shelf-stable product.

-Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel. These fish are typically found in the refrigerator section or sold at seafood and deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Know the Dos and Don'ts for Fall Clean-up

September 26, 2012 2:50 am

Home chores never seem to get erased from the to-do-list and with several holidays around the corner this fall, many of those tasks move even higher on that list. As part of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' (AAOS) Prevent Injuries America! campaign, orthopaedic surgeons would rather prevent than treat fall clean-up injuries.

Knowing how to properly use and set up equipment can significantly reduce the possibility of injuries, that is why it is essential to follow all instructions and warnings that come along with equipment to avoid injuries at all costs. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2011, approximately 523,000 people were injured from ladders and more than 35,500 treated for rake-related injuries.

Heed the following safety tips to help reduce injury when using some of these tools this fall:

-Service equipment. Have equipment such as leaf blowers serviced before using for the first time this season.
-Use a comfortable rake. Select a rake that is suitable for your height and strength. Wear leather gloves or use a rake with padded handles to prevent blisters.
-Inspect the ladder. Check the ladder for any loose screws, hinges or rungs and clean off any mud or liquids that might have accumulated on the ladder.
-Properly set-up the ladder. Every ladder should be placed on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground that is uneven and watch for soft, muddy spots. The same is true for uneven flooring. -Remember to always engage the ladder locks or braces before climbing. If working outside, make sure the ladder – when extended – will not hit electrical wires, tree limbs or any other obstructions.
-Remember the one-to-four rule: the bottom of the ladder should be one foot away from the wall for every four feet that the ladder rises. For example, if the ladder touches the wall 16 feet above the ground, the base of the ladder should be four feet from the wall. If you are going to climb onto a roof, the ladder should extend at least three feet higher than the rooftop. And, the upper and lower sections of an extension ladder should overlap to provide stability.
-Avoid using ladders in adverse weather conditions. It's unsafe to use ladders outside if there is rain, wind, snow, ice or some other factor that can increase the risk of falling.
-Select the right ladder for the job. If you're washing windows inside the home, choose a step stool or utility ladder, which are often used when working at low or medium heights. Extension ladders are ideal for use outdoors to reach high places, like when cleaning the gutters on the rooftop. The weight the ladder is supporting also should never exceed its maximum load capacity.
-Move materials with caution when on the ladder. While cleaning the garage or closet, be careful when pushing or pulling items from shelves. It is easy to be thrown off-balance and fall.
-Always position the ladder closer to the work. Over-reaching or leaning too far to one side can make you lose your balance and fall. Your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder!
-Wear proper footwear. Make sure your shoelaces are tied and the soles of your shoes are free of any debris or greasy, oily or wet substances. Do not wear leather-soled shoes, as they are slippery. Pant legs shouldn't be too wide or too long.
-Be careful when climbing; get help if you need it. Be safe and ask someone to hold the ladder while you climb. Stay in the center of the ladder as you ascend, and always hold the side rails with both hands. -Also, make sure that only one person climbs the ladder at a time.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Parents Saying No to Drugs...in Children's Lunchboxes

September 26, 2012 2:50 am

A new school lunch survey shows that the vast majority of kids are brown bagging it; and while deli meat is beating out the venerable PB&J, parents are concerned about how it is made, including the use of antibiotics and hormones in animals raised for food.

The "What's In Your Kid's Lunch" survey shows that 69 percent of U.S. parents report packing lunches for their kids, with nearly a third of parents packing a lunch every day. Of those lunch-packing parents, the top item included in lunches (reported by 80 percent) was a sandwich or wrap. Of the parents who turn to sandwiches for their children's noon meal, sliced deli meats beat out jelly, peanut butter and cheese as fillings.

Of those parents who pack lunches for their kids, 94 percent agree that deli sandwiches are quick and easy to prepare, and 81 percent said they really want to know what's in those deli meat products and how they are made. And with 79 percent of lunch-packing parents saying it's important that the deli meats they buy are made from animals not treated with antibiotics and hormones, another 82 percent said it was unfair and misleading that meat companies can label products as natural even when antibiotics are used.

Parents know they don't want antibiotics in their kids' deli sandwiches, but many times they don't know they are getting them. Parents are encouraged to visit http://www.applegate.com/community/posts/how-to-pack-a-super-bug-free-lunch-box to learn more about the "What's In Your Kid's Lunch" survey and get advice on packing a drug-free lunch.

More Survey Findings
-71 percent of lunch-packing parents say that they and their kids get bored quickly with lunch options (not surprising with an average of 180 school days in the U.S.)
-89 percent said it was important to have all food groups represented in a child's lunch
-75 percent admitted worry about how much of the lunch they pack for their children actually gets eaten

Source: Applegate

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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