/Let’s Talk Turkey

Let’s Talk Turkey

November 2015

The shopping, the cooking, the traveling, the weight gain, the stress . . . the holidays

The holidays are a time for celebrating with families and friends, and for many of us that includes marathon shopping sessions, extra time in the kitchen, and added stress to our already busy lives. The good news is a 2000 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine debunked the idea that people gain between five and 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Instead the average person actually gains about one to two pounds during the holidays. That’s the good news. The bad news is that most people will not lose those additional pounds . . . and that means they could gain another two pounds the following year, and another two pounds the year after that.

That one- to two-pound gain isn’t inevitable. There are tricks and tips to minimize weight gain, ease stress and enjoy the season even more. You can have your cake and eat it too.

“Setting weight loss goals at this time of year adds unnecessary challenges to what is already a stressful time of year,” said Amanda Reichert, a Southern Nevada Health District health educator. “Instead, you can look for ways to maintain your weight by making a few adjustments during the holidays and allowing yourself to enjoy the season.”

Eliminating certain foods at the holidays is difficult and Reichert suggests portion control is key. She says at the buffet line, choose small plates rather than large dinner plates. Select vegetables and fruit, split dessert with a friend, and have a small healthy snack before heading out to the party to minimize the risk of overeating.

“It‘s not impossible and it can be done without feeling as if you’re sacrificing,” she said. She added that small adjustments throughout the year can lead to big changes in health. So what else can you do? .

First, shop healthy. Check nutrition labels and plan to include more fruit and vegetables on the holiday menu. Opt for lower fat items. These can help limit excess calories. Even in winter, there are plenty of produce options available. Check out the frozen food aisle. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak freshness and THEN frozen.

Go light. Reduce the fat content of your stuffing by cooking it separately from the bird – which makes it dressing! Choose light meat over dark to save extra calories. Try herbs and seasonings to add flavor to your dishes instead of sauces, butter or cheese. If you’re passing around appetizers, select dishes with raw vegetables and low-fat dips. At the holiday party, select dishes that are simply prepared without heavy creams or sauces.

Make substitutions that lighten up the meal. For example, use three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to replace an ounce of unsweetened chocolate when baking; use crushed graham crackers instead of pie crusts; use egg whites or egg substitutes to replace eggs; replace half of the oil in a dessert recipe with an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce; use reduced- or non-fat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream on pies and cakes.

Choose whole grains. Whole wheat rolls and bread are a healthier choice than white bread. Substitute brown rice or wild rice, which is actually a healthy grain, for white rice. Foods rich in fiber can help fight cravings.

Offer healthier dessert selections. When making pumpkin pie, use non-fat evaporated milk and top with fat-free whipped topping. Or forego pie and cake, by serving fruity fondue or chocolate-covered strawberries.

Don’t forget the liquid calories. Eggnog can add 300 calories to your day. If you’re hosting the party, offer low calorie drinks or sparkling water. Remember that alcohol also has plenty of calories.

Give yourself time to enjoy the feast and let your brain remind you if you’re full and wait the recommended 20 minutes before heading back for a second helping.

Maintain a fitness routine. It’s easy to get sidetracked at this time of year. Mark exercise on the calendar and schedule it as if it were a regular, standing apointment. For travelers, check out the gym at the hotel and take a little time to work out. Airports offer plenty of opportunity to take a walk when dealing with layovers or delayed flights. Better to move around than sit and wait.

After dinner, and if weather permits, take a family stroll through the neighborhood to check out holiday lights. Head outside to play a round of family football or soccer. The health district’s Neon to Nature program can help identify trails or parks that are close to home.

“Sticking to your regular fitness routine can really help avoid gaining weight at the holidays and it’s also an excellent way to avoid stress,” said Reichert. “There are some very simple ways that you can add physical activity now and throughout the year.” More tips on how to stay active are available on the Get Moving section of the health district’s GetHealthyClarkCounty.org website.

ENJOY and Happy Holidays!

Talking Turkey – and Ham, and Yams…

Food is an important part of our holiday festivities. Unfortunately, one in six people in the United States will get sick from something they eat or drink this year, and about half of those foodborne illness victims will be children under 15 years old. You can help make sure your holiday feast is both tasty and safe by following food safety guidelines for preparing, serving and storing your food.

Turkey Talk

For many, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a turkey on the table. If you are purchasing a fresh turkey, buy it only one to two days before you plan to cook it. Always keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to prepare it, and place it in a pan or on a tray to catch the juices and prevent them from spreading germs on your kitchen counters.

Thawing Turkey Three Ways

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) there are three ways to safely defrost your turkey – in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. REMEMBER, start the thawing process right before you are ready to start roasting, braising, turduckening, or whatever your sworn by, passed-down-for-generations, method of cooking a turkey might be. If you are using the refrigerator to thaw, this could mean five to six days, depending on the size of your bird.

In the Refrigerator

Keep the turkey in the original wrapper. Again, place it in a pan to catch any juices that may leak out and contaminate other foods. It generally takes about 24 hours, per four to five pounds to thaw in a refrigerator. A turkey that has thawed can remain in the refrigerator for one or two more days if necessary.

In Cold Water

If you choose to thaw your turkey in cold water, wrap it securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through and have direct contact with the bird. Place your turkey completely under cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed and DO NOT refreeze your turkey after using this thawing method.

In the Microwave

Check the owners’ manual for the size of turkey that will fit into your microwave oven. Review the recommended minutes per pound and power level to ensure proper thawing and remove all outside wrapping from the turkey. Place the turkey in a microwave safe dish to catch any juices and cook the turkey immediately. DO NOT refreeze OR refrigerate your bird after it is finished thawing using the microwave method.

REMEMBER to remove the giblets from the turkey cavity after thawing using whatever method you choose. Cook these bits separately!

Other popular dishes such as roasts, briskets, or ham should be used within 3-4 days. Just because ham may be cured, doesn’t mean it won’t go bad. Seafood dishes also appear around the holidays. Shrimp cocktail, oysters and fish dishes may be popular items in your household. As a rule, seafood should always be cooked thoroughly to minimize the risk of illness. If you choose to eat raw fish, eating items that have been frozen can kill parasites that may be present. However, freezing won’t kill everything that might cause foodborne illnesses, and cooking items is the safest way to avoid getting sick.

Fresh fruits and vegetables should be rinsed under running tap water, including those with skins or rinds (like your sweet potatoes!) that will be peeled. Do not use detergent or bleach to wash what you intend to eat. These products are not intended for people to consume. Keep fresh produce away from raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Use separate cutting boards for these items, and clean your cutting board with soap and water between uses. Refrigerate all cut, peeled, or cooked fresh fruits and vegetables within two hours.

Food safety should not be a seasonal activity. Incorporate these tips into your kitchen practices year-round to ensure you and your family continue to enjoy healthy eating throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Skipping Clean-up Duty and Dining out This Holiday Season? What You Need to Know

Have you decided to take a holiday from the food prep, tower of dishes, and playing host to the invasion of family and friends this season?

Dining out is certainly a stress-relieving alternative. Southern Nevada offers a wide variety of dining options for every
palate – from those choosing to forgo the traditional holiday fare to special holiday menus for dining guests who want a
more traditional meal without the requisite clean-up duty at home afterwards.

While dining in one of the many fine establishments our community has to offer is a welcome holiday treat, you do relinquish control of the kitchen and quality control of the food preparation process. The good news is that now more than ever you have options for reviewing the current inspection grade for a restaurant when choosing a place where you want to eat.

The Southern Nevada Health District hosts an Environmental Health Inspections section on its website. The section provides a glimpse of inspections from 2005 to the present, and includes information for all food establishments permitted by the health district including, bars, taverns, snack bars, food processors, food warehouses, health food stores, markets, and permanent outdoor barbecues. The site allows you to search by the name of the establishment, inspection grade, address, city, ZIP code, or resort/hotel name.

For those on the go, the health district introduced a mobile app, Restaurant Grades of Southern Nevada, that allows users to see current and historical restaurant inspection grades. Users can find information for restaurants in their area, or search for restaurant grades by name, and view Yelp ratings for the eating establishments. The app can be downloaded by iOS device users through the Apple Store and by Android users from Google Play. Download the app and bookmark your favorite restaurant or find new restaurants to visit during the holidays.

Restaurant grades provide important information about the status of an establishment at the time of an environmental health specialist’s inspection. However, these records provide a “snapshot” of the day and time of the inspection and are not necessarily representative of the past history of the restaurant, or its current condition. It is the health district’s overarching goal to work collaboratively with the establishments it regulates to ensure they are meeting all public health requirements. With this goal in mind, environmental health specialists work to promote safe and healthy conditions through education and placing an emphasis on the risk factors that would be most likely to cause foodborne illness among patrons.

These types of risk factors can result in the environmental health specialist making a finding, or findings, during an inspection that results in an “A” grade, or a downgrade to a “B” or “C” status for an excessive number of violations. While patrons may see the ubiquitous Grade Cards in their favorite restaurants, they may not know how they system works.

What does the grade card mean?

“A” Grade:
The restaurant has earned between 0-10 demerits on their last inspection.

“B” Grade:
A restaurant that has been downgraded to a “B” has earned between 11 and 20 demerits or identical consecutive critical or major violations.

“C” Grade:
A restaurant that has been downgraded to a “C” has earned between 21 and 40 demerits, has identical consecutive critical or major violations, or more than 10 demerits on a “B” grade reinspection.

Restaurants downgraded to a “B” or “C” must be resinspected to ensure violations are corrected within 15 days, and a resinpection may be conducted sooner at the request of the operator. An establishment with 41 or more demerits is an imminent health hazard and will be closed.

“Ultimately, the health district would like to see every establishment in Southern Nevada earn and keep an “A” grade,” said Jackie Reszetar, director of the Environmental Health Division for the health district.

“The health district delivers a passionate commitment to working with industry to regulate through education and collaboration. At the same time we are upholding our commitment to the public by providing them with timely and up to date information through a variety of social media methods,” said Reszetar.

More information on the health district’s inspection process and grade cards is available on the health district website.

New & Noteworthy

We’re moving!

The health district is planning its move to its newest public health center located at 280 S. Decatur Blvd. It is anticipated all services will be relocated in the first quarter of 2016. For updated information and all the latest health district news, check out our website, www.SNHD.info or follow us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/SouthernNevadaHealthDistrict; or connect with us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SNHD.info.

November is National Diabetes Month

Diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States with approximately 9.3 percent of the population impacted. According to the American Diabetes Association, that translates to about 29.1 million Americans who have diabetes, and 8 million-plus undiagnosed. In Clark County, 9.5 percent of adults have diabetes, based on Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data. The health district and its partners offer education programs, self-management classes and other resources to help people impacted by diabetes. In addition, an online program called the Road to Diabetes Prevention was launched earlier this year. It’s a six-session program to help participants lower their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. More information about the Road to Diabetes Prevention program and other resources is available on GetHealthyClarkCounty.org.

World AIDS Day

In 1988, December 1 was established as World AIDS Day at the World Summit of Ministers of Health on AIDS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 1.1 million people over the age of 13 are living with HIV infection in the United States; and only four in 10 are in HIV medical care. Each year, there are approximately 50,000 new HIV infections, a number that has remained stable since the mid-1990s. World AIDS Day is an opportunity to encourage everyone to get tested to learn his or her HIV status. Testing is the first step to treatment. Several years ago, the CDC recommended that voluntary HIV testing become routine for patients between the ages of 13 and 64. The health district and its partners offer HIV testing at regular clinics. For more information, visit Sexual Health Clinic Testing & Services.

Find immunization information
on our new website

Check out our newly designed website at www.SNHD.info for more information on immunizations, clinic locations, and vaccine-preventable diseases.


Updated on:  April 18, 2019