It’s Turkey Time! Safety Tips for Preparation & Cooking


We’re closing in on Thanksgiving Day and the time of year when families gather together, give thanks and enjoy a fabulous meal. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or it’s the first time you’re in charge of making the holiday meal- you need to know the safest ways to thaw, prepare, stuff and cook your turkey.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC) offers these suggestions to keep your kitchen and meal safe.

When preparing a turkey, be aware of the four main safety issues: thawing, preparing, stuffing, and cooking to the adequate temperature.

The Food Thermometer: Using a food thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure safety and to determine desired "doneness" of meat, poultry, and egg products. To be safe, these foods must be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any harmful microorganisms that may be in the food.

"Doneness" refers to when a food is cooked to a desired state and indicates the sensory aspects of foods such as texture, appearance, and juiciness. Unlike the temperatures required for safety, these sensory aspects are subjective.

Some food thermometers must be calibrated to ensure that they read food temperature accurately. Find out if your thermometer can be calibrated.

Safe Thawing: Thawing turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature. The "danger zone" is between 40 and 140°F — the temperature range where foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly. While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely, but as soon as it begins to thaw, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to grow again, if it is in the "danger zone."

There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in a microwave oven

Safe Preparation:  Bacteria present on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey. If these areas are not cleaned thoroughly before working with other foods, bacteria from the raw poultry can then be transferred to other foods. After working with raw poultry, always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces before they touch other foods.

Safe Stuffing: For optimal safety and uniform doneness, cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. Stuffing should not be prepared ahead. The dry and wet ingredients for stuffing can be prepared ahead of time and chilled. However, do not mix wet and dry ingredients until just before spooning the stuffing mixture into a poultry cavity, in/on other meat, or into a casserole. If stuffing a whole turkey, chicken, or other bird, spoon the stuffing in loosely using about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound. The stuffing should be moist, not dry, because heat destroys bacteria more rapidly in a moist environment.

Using a food thermometer, make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F, possibly resulting in foodborne illness.

Safe Cooking: Set the oven temperature no lower than 325°F and be sure the turkey is completely thawed. Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Check the internal temperature at the center of the stuffing and meaty portion of the breast, thigh, and wing joint using a food thermometer. Cooking times will vary. The food thermometer must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.

For more information on safe internal temperatures, check out,

Have a wonder and safe Thanksgiving!




Breast Feeding

1:30 to read

I recently read an editorial in The New York Times entitled “Overselling Breast Feeding”. It was written by Courtney Jung who is a professor of political science at the University of Toronto.  It was quite interesting to me as she stated “the moral fervor surrounding breast feeding continues unabated, with a steady stream of advocacy and education campaigns”.  The WHO (World Health Organization) developed “ten steps to successful breast feeding” in hopes of increasing breast feeding initiation and duration around the world. Hospitals have been designated “Baby-Friendly”  (aren’t they all supposed to be?)  if they adhere to these steps as well. But the United States has done well with breast feeding rates as 79% of mothers initiate breast feeding.

Most, if not all of the new mothers I make rounds on are proponents of breast feeding. They have read the books, gone to classes and are determined to be successful at breast feeding. But, in my experience over the last several years, I have actually seen more and more new mothers becoming over-wrought and wary of breast feeding fueled by the “rules” that they are being required to follow. With that being said, having someone “tell you that you must breast feed your baby in the first hour after birth”, and that “your baby must remain in your room 24 hours a day“, and that they “may not have a pacifier”, “and should “breast feed on demand” is actually anxiety promoting and leaves many a new mother exhausted and tearful within a day or two of having a baby. 

While breast feeding is “natural” it also requires some practice and the only practice is really “on the job” training.  Some babies just latch on quickly and are pros immediately, but not all babies will become proficient at breast feeding in the first day or two. The mothers are told to “let the baby nurse on demand” and some mothers have had their babies at the breast for hours on end and are exhausted, with sore and bleeding nipples. I have walked in to too many hospital rooms with a mother in tears and a fretful baby, and a “helpless” new father.  Some feel as if “they are failures” as mothers before they even are discharged, and at the same time are having serious doubts about continuing to breast feed.  They are sure that their baby will catch serious illnesses and have a lower IQ if they don’t breast feed, but how can they maintain this constant breast feeding and no sleep and never put a pacifier in their baby’s mouth??? Is there only one way to be successful at breast feeding?

I loved breast feeding but it was a long time ago and we were instructed by caring nurses “to just go home and put the baby to the breast every 2-3 hours”. While that may not have been the best education has the pendulum swung too far?  Will giving the baby one bottle when a mother is having postpartum anxiety and sleeplessness really harm the baby?  Should a mother have to sign an order allowing her baby to have a pacifier??   While guidelines for breast feeding are helpful should they be so rigid that a mother “gives up” on breast-feeding because she can’t follow 10 steps in the first 24-48 hours?   

The New York Times article was quite interesting and I had to agree with many of the author’s  points. Supporting a woman’s choice to breast feed is admirable and “policy changes promoting maternity leave, and flexibility” are definitely needed to encourage women to continue to breast feed. But as she states “is all of this breast feeding advocacy crossing the line?”   A mother should choose to breast feed because she wants to, and that does not mean if her baby does not breast feed in the first hour that she will never bond with her baby or be successful at breast feeding.  Some woman are unable to breast feed for a multitude of reasons and that decision should not label her as a “bad mother”.  Again, breast feeding, like a woman’s breast, is not “one size fits all”. 



The Magic of Music


“Where words fail, music speaks,” wrote Danish author, Hans Christian Anderson and he was so right. Music is the universe’s official language where old and young share its beauty and complexity.

Alzheimer’s patients have been known to respond with joy and excitement when played their favorite music after being non-responsive to other stimulus.

Children jump in rhythm and clap their hands when they hear the sounds of instruments playing. Hundreds of YouTube videos show how quickly tears can turn to smiles and giggles as the first notes of Disney’s  “Let It Go” spring forth. 

Is there really anyone who isn’t deeply affected by music?

Research has shown that particpating in music benefits children when learning other subjects and offers kids a variety of skills they can use throughout their life. 

“A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music.

Can particpation in music make a child smarter? There’s a difference of opinion about that. However, it’s safe to say that it takes an assortment of specific skills to sing or play an instrument or do both simultaneously.

For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, says Kenneth Guilmartin, cofounder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through kindergarteners that involves parents or caregivers in the classes.

“Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity,” Guilmartin says.

Children have learned how to sing and speak in other languages by listening to cross-culture songs. I even picked up a little French from the Beatles’ “Michelle” when I was a child. “Michelle, ma belle, Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble,Tres bien ensemble.”(These are words which go together well, together well.)

According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.

Research indicates the brain of a musician, even a young one, works differently than that of a non-musician. “There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain,” says Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches a specialized music curriculum for children aged two months to nine years.

Playing music makes your brain work harder, but what about just listening to music? While some studies have noted that learning to play music can enhance your brain, listening to music just makes you feel good. But really, isn’t that wonderful too?

Music enriches your life. It’s captivating and has the power to make you smile or cry. Most of all, it’s universal.

Introducing children to music at a young age opens the door to new adventures. Whether it’s classical or hip-hop, country or rock, bluegrass or blues, jazz or Dixieland, African rhythms or Mongolian throat-singing; borders and politics may separate people, but nations and communities will share their music.

“There is a massive benefit from being musical that we don’t understand, but it’s individual. Music is for music’s sake,” Rasmussen says. “The benefit of music education for me is about being musical. It gives you have a better understanding of yourself. The horizons are higher when you are involved in music,” he adds. “Your understanding of art and the world, and how you can think and express yourself, are enhanced.”

Yes, music is the official language of the universe and a beautiful gift to share with our children.

Source: Laura Lewis Brown,


Kidde Recalls 4.6 Million Fire Extinguishers


A lot of families have fire extinguishers in their homes in case of a small fire. Kidde makes one of the more popular brands and is recalling 4.6 million of their plastic valve disposable fire extinguishers.

A faulty valve component can cause the disposable fire extinguishers not to fully discharge when the lever is repeatedly pressed and released during a fire emergency, posing a risk of injury.

This recall involves 31 models of Kidde disposable fire extinguishers with Zytel® black plastic valves. The recalled extinguishers are red, white or silver and are either ABC or BC rated. The ratings can be found to the right of the nameplate. 

Manufacture dates included in the recall are July 23, 2013 through October 15, 2014. A 10-digit date code is stamped on the side of the cylinder, near the bottom. Digits five through nine represent the day and year of manufacture in DDDYY format.

Date codes for recalled units manufactured in 2013 are XXXX 20413 X through XXXX 36513 X and 2014 are XXXX 00114 X through XXXX 28814 X.

A complete list of the nameplate affixed to the front of the fire extinguishers is located on their website at

Kidde has received 11 reports of the recalled fire extinguishers failing to discharge as expected. No injuries have been reported.

The fire extinguishers were sold at Home Depot, Menards, Walmart and other department, home and hardware stores nationwide, and online from August 2013 through November 2014 for between $18 and $65, and about $200 for model XL 5MR.

Consumers should immediately contact Kidde for a replacement fire extinguisher at Kidde toll-free (855) 283-7991 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or online at and click on Safety Notice for more information.


Recall: Cracker Barrel’s Animated Toy Monkey Due to Burns


Giggles International is recalling about 13,000 of their Animated Sing Along Monkey toy due to the possibility that the battery compartment can reach temperatures up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, posing a burn hazard for children.

This recall involves Giggles International Animated Sing-Along Monkey toys. The monkey is made of brown and beige plush material and is about 9 inches tall. The toy is designed to hold a songbook titled "5 Little Monkeys" and to sing the song when activated. A red music note is on the bottom of the monkey's right foot and the face of a child with its hands covering its eyes are on the bottom of the money's left foot. Recalled sing-along monkeys were manufactured between 6/7/2014 and 7/5/2014 and have batch code GP1410028.  

The manufacture date in the M/D/YYYY format and batch code are printed on the bottom of a white fabric label attached near the base of the monkey's tail. The monkey toys came in a tan colored box with words "Animated Sing-Along Monkey," "Sing along with me!" and "I play peek-a-boo with you!" on the front. The age advisory "For ages 3+" and the warning that batteries are included are also on the front of the box.

Giggles International has received two reports of toys overheating and melting their battery compartments.

The toy is sold exclusively at Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores nationwide from September 2014 to October 2014 for about $25.

Consumers should immediately take the animated monkey away from children, remove the batteries and return the toy to any Cracker Barrel Old Country Store or contact Giggles International for a full refund.

You can contact Giggles International at (800) 738-6018 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at and click on Recall at the top of the page for more information.

Toy monkey recall


“Live Long and Prosper”


Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the iconic character Spock in the Star Trek television series and films, passed away last week from chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, also known as COPD.  He was 83.

Spock’s Vulcan salute, accompanied with the phrase “live long and prosper”(LLAP), was recognized around the world as a symbol of friendship and good wishes.

So what does the passing of an elderly movie star have to do with kid’s health?  Kids, teens and adults were fans of Nimoy’s beloved character, Mr. Spock. In his final months, he reached out to his fans with a farewell warning. 

Nimoy attributed his COPD to years of smoking, even though he quit three decades ago around the age of 50.  A few months ago he tweeted a simple but cautionary warning to young adults and teens, “Don’t smoke. I did. Wish I never had. LLAP.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, chronic lower respiratory disease, most of it COPD, killed 149,205 Americans in 2013, making it the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Chronic respiratory disease killed more people than accidents, stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

I personally know how COPD can slip into your life and kill you, even years after you’ve crushed out your last cigarette butt. My mother died of COPD 20 years after she quit smoking. She smoked from the time she was in her teens till her 60s. While she did live to be in her 80s, many of those years were spent gasping for air and hooked to an oxygen tank. She also warned her kids and grandkids not to smoke. Like so many other teens, they didn’t listen.  Now, they wish they had.

An online article by Forbes’ Matthew Herper, eloquently states the difference in the fictional character of Spock and the man, Leonard Nimoy, and how we can honor both.

“It’s ironic — bitterly so — that a man who became famous playing a character who was the epitome of logic and clear thinking died because of one of humanity’s most illogical flaws: our propensity toward addiction and for risking our health for momentary pleasure. It would be a fitting way to honor him if we could approach the problem of smoking with the kind of logic that Spock would have. As we deal with a whole lot of tobacco-related issues, including how to deal with e-cigarettes which are putatively safer than traditional cigarettes but whose manufacturers seem intent on proving no such thing, we could use some Vulcan clarity.”

As much as the phrase “ this is a teaching moment” has been misused and over used, I think it applies in this case. Many pre-teens, teens and young adults know and appreciate the Spock character and the man who played him all these years. What they probably don’t know much about is what killed him.

As they say, the door is open and this might be an excellent time to talk about smoking with your child. Whether it’s cigarettes, e-cigarettes or chewing tobacco. They are all highly addictive and each holds it’s own serious health issues.  E-cigarettes are still being studied for health complications. More in-depth research is beginning to expose the chemicals used to vaporize the nicotine that is inhaled into a user’s lungs.  The findings are not good.

It’s hard for many kids to care about the possible long-term health effects of something that feels so good at the moment. But irritating symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and loss of stamina will start adding up. If you smoke, you will experience all of these symptoms at some time.

COPD is incurable. There is nothing that can reverse it. Typically it occurs in people 65 and older, however, 2 percent of COPD cases involve men aged 18 to 24 and 3 percent involve women in the same age group. The numbers increase slightly for people aged 25 to 44 with 2 percent of cases in men and 4.1 percent of cases in women.

My niece-in-law died from COPD at the age of 48. She first showed symptoms at age 22 – she started smoking at age 12.

People who have never smoked can develop COPD from second-hand smoke, air pollution, chemicals or dust. However, smoking accounts for 9 out of 10 COPD –related deaths.

Now is a good time to use some of Spock’s clarity of details to talk with your child about smoking, whether it’s with cigarettes, e-cigarettes, paperless tobacco, hookahs or anything else that is inhaled into the lungs.

Nimoy’s last tweet reminds us that life is bittersweet, “"A life is like a garden," he wrote. "Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP"

Not smoking doesn’t guarantee a long life, but it certainly helps one live a healthier life and that’s a blessing every child deserves. 

Sources: Matthew Herper,

Kristeen Cherney,



Prepackaged Caramel Apples Linked to Listeria Outbreak


This is the time of year when people eat food combos that they might not typically eat. One holiday treat is caramel coated apples, however, this year there is a warning to avoid pre-packaged caramel coated apples due to the possibility of contamination with Listeria.

Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with public health officials in several states and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), investigating an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis) linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples.

Out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends that U.S. consumers do not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided.

Although caramel apples are often a fall seasonal product, contaminated commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may still be for sale at grocery stores and other retailers nationwide or may be in consumers’ homes.

Investigators are working quickly to determine specific brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that may be linked to illnesses and to identify the source of contamination.

As of December 22, 2014, a total of 29 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 10 states:

·      Arizona (4)

·      California (1)

·      Minnesota (4)

·      Missouri (5)

·      New Mexico (5)

·      North Carolina (1)

·      Texas (4)

·      Utah (1)

·      Washington (1)

·      Wisconsin (3).

Illness onset dates range from October 17, 2014, to November 27, 2014. Nine illnesses have been associated with a pregnancy (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant).

Among people whose illnesses were not associated with a pregnancy, ages ranged from 7 to 92 years, with a median age of 66 years, and 41% were female.

Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) occurred among otherwise healthy children aged 5–15 years.

All 29 ill people have been hospitalized and, five deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to three of these deaths and it is unclear whether it contributed to a fourth.

The fifth death was unrelated to listeriosis.

At this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.

These products could have a shelf life of more than one month. CDC, the involved states, and FDA continue to work closely on this rapidly evolving investigation, and new information will be provided as it becomes available.



Kraft Recalls Mac & Cheese Boxed Dinners


It’s almost a staple in many homes- Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese boxed dinners. If you’ve purchased a box recently, you should check the codes and manufacturing dates to see if it is one of the dinners being recalled due to pieces of metal in the pasta. 

Kraft Foods Group is voluntarily recalling approximately 242,000 cases of select code dates and manufacturing codes of the Original flavor of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner.

The recalled product is limited to the 7.25-oz. size of the Original flavor of boxed dinner with the "Best When Used By" dates of September 18, 2015 through October 11, 2015, with the code "C2" directly below the date on each individual box. 

The "C2" refers to a specific production line on which the affected product was made.

Some of these products have also been packed in multi-pack units that have a range of different code dates and manufacturing codes on the external packaging (box or shrink-wrap), depending on the package configuration.

Kraft has received eight consumer contacts about this product from the impacted line within this range of code dates and no injuries have been reported. 

Kraft notes on their website that “We deeply regret this situation and apologize to any consumers we have disappointed.”

Consumers who purchased this product should not eat it.  They should return it to the store where purchased for an exchange or full refund.  Consumers also can contact Kraft Foods Consumer Relations at 1-800-816-9432 between 9 am and 6 pm (Eastern) for a full refund.

The recalled products are:

·      7.25 oz. box, Original flavor (Best when used by code date & Mfr. Code – Sept. 18, 2015 C2 through October 11, 2015 C2)

·      3-pack box of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor  (Best when used by code date & Mfr. Code – Sept. 18, 2015 C2 through October 11, 2015 C2)

·      4-pack shrink-wrap of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor (Best when used by code date & Mfr. Code – Sept. 18, 2015 C2 through October 11, 2015 C2)

·      5-pack shrink-wrap of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor (Best when used by code date & Mfr. Code – Sept. 18, 2015 C2 through October 11, 2015 C2)

Kraft adds on their website that “No other sizes, varieties or pasta shapes and no other packaging configurations are included in this recall.  And no products with manufacturing codes other than "C2" below the code date on the individual box are included in this recall.”

The 3,4 and 5-pack boxes also have Sell Unit codes that can be found on the Kraft website listed below. 

For more information you can go to the Kraft News Center at



New Year’s Resolutions for the Whole Family


For many people, the new year is symbolic for fresh beginnings or a clean slate. Resolutions are abundant as we reflect on where we are now and where we want to be. A new year can bring individual changes and family changes as well.

We not only benefit from New Year’s resolutions; our children can also learn a lot about self-discipline and the value of making goals.

Start by making New Year’s resolutions a family tradition. Sit down each December and reflect on the past year, discussing your accomplishments and goals, as individuals and as a family. In your resolution conversation you can each talk about what worked this year and what didn’t.

Dr. Benjamin Siegel, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, suggests saying, “Each one of us is going to state a few things that we want to continue to do and things we’d like to change that would make us feel better about ourselves and how our family works.”

Everybody gets a chance to weigh in. Everyone gets a turn at sharing something they are proud of and something they want to improve about themselves. Parents can go first- setting the tone for the rest of the family. One way to express feelings is to write down your thoughts. If your children are old enough to write, have them write about their accomplishments and goals. If your child is too young to write or just beginning, you can help them out by writing what they want to say.

One option is to save the writings and next year you can pull them out and talk about them before making new resolutions. Your family can also use them as a guide throughout the year. 

Try to limit the resolutions to those that are do-able. It’s easy to get swept up in the possibilities of out lives- make sure that for the next year, you keep it simple- one step at a time. One hundred resolutions are way too many for anyone to tackle!

You can make a master list to hang in a public spot, like a bulletin board in the kitchen. Dr. Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, suggests making a resolution box, in which each family member can drop in his or her resolutions, then pull them out at a later date to review them.

Each family member is a different personality and age. For younger children, something as simple as spending 15 minutes cleaning their room is an achievement. As younger children age, they can be more active in coming up with goals, which will mean more to them as they are achieved.

For preschool-aged children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends resolutions that focus on cleaning up toys, brushing teeth and washing hands and being kind to pets. However, parents who consider these behaviors part of their regular expectations may want to provide resolutions that focus on higher goals.

Clarke-Pearson suggests preschoolers be encouraged to work on listening and helping skills. A resolution could be “I will be a better listener when Mommy or Daddy asks me to do something” or “I will help out more when Mommy or Daddy asks me.” If you keep it simple, your child is more likely to understand the concept as well as succeed.

Of course, the best way to help your children learn the value of achieving goals is to be a good example. Just as with everything else you do, your child is watching. “Parents should be reflective about how they wish to be in the coming year,” Siegel says. “It’s a good opportunity to promote good mental and physical health.”

When the time comes to review resolutions, make sure it’s a positive experience. This is not the time for punishment. It’s important to be flexible and understanding, especially if the child is making the effort. “You don’t penalize if you don’t fulfill a resolution,” Clarke-Pearson says. “The resolution is not written in stone. It’s a guide.”

However your family arrives at resolutions, the best part is that you’re doing it together and learning how to manage your role not only in the family but also in the larger world.

Source: Laura Lewis Brown,


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