Heating Baby Food in the Microwave

Warming baby food in the microwave is convenient and fast – you can go from freezer to table in a few short minutes. There are some potential issues to be aware of; however, should you choose to use the microwave for warming baby food. Much of the information regarding the use of microwaves is conflicting, so it comes down to a personal choice. Most experts, however, will agree that heating baby food in the microwave is safe, but certain precautions should be taken.

Proper Heating in the Microwave

If you bottle fed your baby, you probably remember hearing that heating a bottle of formula or breast milk in the microwave is can cause problems with hot spots. This is true of microwaving food as well. Microwaves do not cook evenly, which is why many of them are equipped with a turntable that rotates the food for more even heat distribution. You can’t trust the turntable to make sure there aren’t any hot spots in the food, however, so you should make sure to stir the food thoroughly after heating, and check the temperature in various spots before serving. This will make sure baby doesn’t suddenly get a bite that is way too hot, in a dish of food that appeared to be at a good temperature. If your microwave doesn’t have a turntable, rotate the food manually during heating.

Start with the lowest cooking time you think will do the job, and then stir, test, and heat more if necessary. This will avoid overheating the food. When heating baby food, you should bring it to a high enough temperature to kill any bacteria that might be present, and then let it cool to a safe eating temperature. Microwaves can quickly overheat food far beyond the necessary temperature and cause the food to overcook or even burn. Watch closely and monitor the temperature to avoid this.

Vessels for Microwave Heating

The bowl you choose to heat your baby’s food in matters when it comes to microwave cooking. Make sure the bowl is labeled as “microwave safe”. Just because it is plastic doesn’t mean it’s ok to microwave! Some plastics can melt or leach chemicals into food when heated. A glass bowl is almost always a better choice for the microwave than plastic for safety, but glass can get hot so use caution when removing the dish from the microwave after heating.

Make sure that you cover the bowl to prevent splattering of food, but never use aluminum foil, as it can spark in the microwave and cause a fire. The same goes for any sort of metal utensil – don’t leave a metal spoon in the bowl while heating.

Thawing in the Microwave

The best way to thaw frozen baby food is in the fridge, but if you are in a hurry the microwave will do the job. You should be sure to cook food thawed in the microwave right away, though, and not save it for later as it can easily start to cook in the microwave even if you are only trying to thaw it. Partially cooked foods can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

While there have been concerns raised about microwaves in the past, currently, they are considered a safe method of heating baby food. As long as you follow all safety precautions, there is no reason you shouldn’t use this convenient kitchen tool to get baby’s food ready fast.

Storing Leftover Baby Food

Baby food can be expensive, and nobody wants to waste good food by having to throw it away after a feeding. Unfortunately, baby food can easily become contaminated, so use caution to avoid having to waste more food than is necessary and keep baby safe at the same time.

Avoiding Waste

Whether you are using homemade baby food or jarred food, the same rule applies; any food that has touched the spoon you used to feed the baby needs to be thrown away. After the spoon has been in your baby’s mouth, it carries bacteria back to the dish which then contaminates the food. If the bacteria are allowed to stay in the food and be re-introduced to your baby later, it could cause illness. Even if the food has been refrigerated, the bacteria can still proliferate and pose a danger to your baby.

It can be hard to tell how much your baby is going to eat at any given feeding. It’s possible you will need the entire portion you have set out, or the entire jar. If baby gets full halfway through, or really just isn’t in the mood after a few bites, that entire portion will have to hit the trash. Avoid this by spooning out small amounts at a time into a small bowl for feeding. If you need to add more, use a clean spoon – not the one you are feeding baby with – to add another portion to the bowl. This way you don’t contaminate all of the food. As long as you don’t put the feeding spoon into the main portion of food, you can safely refrigerate for later use.

How Long is Baby Food Good For?

This depends on any number of factors including whether the food is homemade or jarred, the type of food, and if it has been frozen and then thawed. A general rule of thumb to follow, however, is to toss anything in the fridge after 2-3 days. Some foods won’t even last that long. Baby cereal made with breast milk tends to get very soupy due to the action of enzymes in the breast milk. It is usually only good for the one feeding. Foods like bananas and avocadoes turn brown very quickly due to oxidation. While it isn’t necessarily bad for baby, it sure doesn’t look appetizing.

Meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be used within 24 hours, as they don’t last as long as fruits and vegetables and can become contaminated with bacteria easily.

Most jarred baby food will have instructions as to how long the food is good for once opened. Remember that the expiration date on the jar only refers to how long the food is good if the jar has not been opened! While the food can last quite a while with the lid sealed, the shelf life quickly diminishes once opened, even if you don’t feed directly from the jar.

Your baby’s immune system still isn’t ready to deal with a bacterial infection, so be sure to follow safe handling practices for all baby food. Although feeding from the jar is convenient, it isn’t safe if you want to feed the rest of the food later. Anything that is leftover, whether in the jar or in a bowl, should be thrown away right after the feeding if baby’s spoon was in the food. It might be hard to accept the waste, but your baby’s health is at stake.

Modeling Good Eating Habits

Believe it or not, parents have an incredible impact on their children’s eating habits. On the average day, when you are trying to convince your child to at least try the spinach, it certainly doesn’t feel like you have any influence at all. But the truth is, your child is always watching you, and takes most of his cues for behavior from what he sees you doing on a daily basis.

Just as your child will repeat the things you say, or imitate the little things you do from brushing your hair to putting your feet up on the coffee table, so too does he watch the way you eat – and more importantly, what you eat.

If You Won’t Eat It, Your Kids Won’t Eat It

This should be the golden rule of healthy eating for families, and yet many parents still believe they can convince their children to voluntarily eat a food they themselves refuse to eat. Do as I say, not as I do doesn’t really work in any aspect of parenting, and it certainly doesn’t work with food. You won’t be able to convince your child that healthy foods are tasty unless you are willing to put them in your own mouth.

Actions speak much, much louder than words when it comes to eating habits. All of the explanations in the world about how healthy, delicious and fun to eat broccoli is won’t hold a candle to your child seeing you eat it and enjoy it.

Consistency is the Key

As with so many things in parenting, consistency is vital to making a real impression on your child. You can’t just eat good food one day and then go back your old habits while expecting your child to carry on with good eating habits. If you want to make healthy eating a lifelong habit for your child, it has to also be a lifelong habit for you.

This doesn’t mean there is no room for treats – pizza night and ice cream can also be a part of your routine, as long as they don’t actually become the routine. Explaining to your child that these foods are ok to have now and then, but not all the time will work a whole lot better if you stand by what you are saying. You can’t change the rules all the time, or have one set of rules for the parents and another set for the kids if you want your kids to truly accept healthy eating as a way of life.

They’re Listening, Too

Just eating the right foods isn’t enough if you are also complaining about it. If you eat your peas while discussing with your spouse how you really don’t like them, your kids will hear you. Instead, try making comments about how flavorful or fresh the food is, or how perfectly it goes with the chicken. Sometimes just hearing you say how good a food is might be enough to make your child give it a try.

Don’t go over the top or offer exaggerated “yum!” and “mmmmmm!” sounds. Just keep it a part of the conversation, and let your child overhear you. Before you know it, she might be willing to taste a bite.

You are the number one influence on your child’s eating habits, so remember it every time you sit down to eat. If you model healthy eating habits, your child will be far more likely to develop them too.

A Balanced Diet for Toddlers

The toddler years are when balanced nutrition becomes vital to your child’s health. Now that breast milk or formula is no longer providing everything your little one needs to grow, food must provide all the necessary nutrients. This can be especially difficult when your toddler becomes a picky eater and refuses many of the healthy foods you offer.

The basics of a balanced toddler diet are a few simple concepts: variety, portion sizes, and number of servings. Provide the right number of servings of each food group, in the appropriate portion sizes, and mix it up with a variety of options to find the foods your toddler will want to eat.

Servings and Portions

A basic knowledge of what your toddler needs to eat, and how much, makes it a lot easier to ensure a balanced diet. Most of us know what the four food groups are: fruits and vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. Many parents, however, have no real idea how much of each of these foods a toddler should eat every day.

Every day, your toddler should be consuming somewhere between 1000-1400 calories depending on age and activity level. That really is a lot less than many parents believe. Toddlers have small stomachs, and portion sizes should be much smaller than those an adult could consume.

Serve your toddler approximately one cup of fruits and one cup of vegetables throughout the day, adding another ½ cup of each for older toddlers. An appropriate portion size for these foods is about ¼ to ½ cup, or half of a fresh fruit like a banana. This means you are aiming to get about 5-9 servings each day of fruits and vegetables. Some servings may be larger than others due to how filling the food is, so it may be a lower number of servings or a higher number depending on the day.

Aim to get your toddler to eat about 3 ounces of whole grain foods every day. One slice of bread is about one ounce, but a standard serving for a toddler is only half of a slice, so an entire slice comprises two servings of grains. ½ cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta is also one ounce, but is actually two servings for a toddler. Thus the 3 ounces will actually add up to anywhere from 6-9 servings per day, and you can add another ounce or two for an older toddler.

For intake of protein, remember that your child really doesn’t need that much. A toddler should eat about 2 ounces of lean proteins every day, which is about 2-3 servings of meats, eggs, and beans.

Finally, diary products should be about 2 cups worth every day. Thus if your toddler drinks 2 cups of milk in a day, you have already met the requirements.

Variety is the Key

Mix it up and offer your child different options from each of the food groups every day, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables where there are plenty of available choices. Trying different foods will not only offer a wide variety of nutrients, but will also allow your toddler more choices and more chances to like the foods that are offered.

Choosing a wide variety of options to meet your toddler’s daily needs also opens up the door to different styles of cuisine and new flavors, to keep expanding your child’s culinary horizons. The earlier you introduce new foods, the more open your child will be to different food experiences later in life.

Add Apples for Good Health

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, or so the old saying goes – and for once there might just be something to the old wisdom. Apples are packed with nutrition and will help keep everyone in your family healthy.

With so many varieties of apples to choose from, the hardest part might be picking your favorite. Luckily, you don’t have to! Although some apples are better for certain culinary uses, choosing an apple to munch on as a snack can provide a new taste every time as you try all the different types on the market.

The Nutrition in Apples

Apples provide a good source of Vitamin C as well as dietary fiber. They also offer small amounts of many other vitamins including B vitamins. As most of the vitamin content is found in the skin, it’s best to eat the apple with the skin, and to cook with the skin intact as often as possible.

Because they are high in fiber, apples will help to keep you full, preventing overeating and helping to keep a healthy diet on track.

How to Enjoy Apples

Apples are a perfect snack to eat fresh and raw, either whole or cut into slices. They also pair beautifully with a sprinkling of cinnamon, or a delicious vanilla yogurt dip. Apples are easily portable and make a wonderful addition to a bag lunch or just a quick snack. Sliced apples are great in tossed salads, especially with a slightly sweeter dressing, and make a tasty addition to a chicken salad sandwich. Try apple slices instead of potato chips as a side dish to any sandwich for a crunch that’s healthier and more flavorful too! Raw apples, once sliced, are subject to the process of oxidation, which causes the flesh to turn brown. Eat them right away, or simply toss them in a small amount of lemon juice to stop the oxidation process.

Apples can be cooked in many different ways, both for sweet desserts and also savory dinner dishes. Of course the apple pie is a famous American favorite, and with only a little sugar and spice, it can actually be one of the healthier pie choices you can make. Skip the pie crust in favor of a crumbly topping mixed with oats for an apple crisp instead to bring down the calorie content a little.

Apples are also a top choice for mixing with oatmeal, as they cook nicely into soft bites and work well with the brown sugar and cinnamon flavors often added to hot cereals. They can also be added to muffins and quick breads.

Applesauce is a favorite first food for babies and also a healthy snack for older kids. You can easily make your own at home, and it freezes well for later use. Applesauce is often paired with pork chops, and a homemade chunky applesauce will always beat anything that comes from a jar!

Apples also go great with sweet potatoes, carrots, rice and raisins, opening up a whole new world of side dish possibilities. There is much more you can do with apples than just slice and eat, so be creative and bring apples to the dinner table more often. Adding their sweet flavor will have kids asking for seconds!

An apple a day may not be enough to keep you healthy, but it sure does help, so make apples a regular part of your diet.

Starting Baby on Snacks

When your baby starts to master the art of eating solid foods and increases his intake, you will probably start thinking about adding a snack or two to his diet. The key to giving your baby snacks is to remember that they should be small portions and should be healthy choices. Snack time is also a great time for baby to work on his pincer grasp, so finger foods are a great choice.

When to Add Snacks

Most babies will start on finger foods at around 9 months of age, when they start to develop the pincer grasp. This is a great time to add a snack to your baby’s menu. Remember that during these early days of solid foods, your baby is still getting most of his nutrition from breast milk or formula. Snacks are about developing skills more than about nutrition.

That doesn’t mean that what your baby eats for a snack shouldn’t be nutritious! At this age, everything your baby eats should be basic, healthy foods, and this includes snacks. Start with one small snack a day. You might want to save it for a time when you need a few minutes to accomplish something, especially if you plan to serve a finger food as a snack. As with meals, serve snacks after a breast or bottle feeding to ensure the solid food does not replace the essential nutrition of breast milk or formula.

Good Snack Choices for Babies

Healthy snacks for babies should be fairly similar to the foods they are eating as meals, with the exception of adding some classic finger foods. Remember that a snack should not be a meal, but should be small portions of a food that will help baby hang in until the next scheduled feeding. Before serving any snack, make certain your baby is able to eat the food in question – you should be seeing signs of the ability to mash food with her gums and she should be handling thicker, chunkier foods. Otherwise, you will have to stick to smooth snacks that don’t require chewing.

Fruit, cereals like Cheerios, yogurt and cheese are all great snack choices for babies. Soft fruits like bananas and peaches make great snacks that baby can easily mash with his gums. Be sure to cut them into small enough bites to avoid any risk of choking.

Many babies love cheese, and it makes an excellent snack. It’s a good source of protein as well as calcium. Cut it into small slices, and start with a fairly soft, mild flavored cheese like mozzarella. You can then move on stronger cheeses as baby adjusts. A few pieces of cheese served with a food that provides fiber, such as applesauce or whole grain cereal like Cheerios will make a good balanced snack with both protein and fiber for sustained energy.

As your baby eats larger meals more often, you will probably want to add a second snack. Into the second year of life, when formula or breast milk no longer provides all of baby’s nutrition, baby should be eating three meals a day along with two snacks. At this point, it will become more important to provide nutritious snacks that will keep baby going until her next meal. As baby grows, her snack options will expand along with her skills; she will be better able to chew and will often eat snacks without much assistance, giving mom a much-needed break.

Cooking with Cranberries: Healthy Treats

Although cranberries don’t get the same kind of buzz as other fruits, they are nutritional powerhouses that deserve a second look. Many people pass up cranberries due to their tart taste, which can make it difficult to convince children to eat them. But the tart flavor is perfect for taking the sweet edge off of other berries and fruits, and makes a great addition to a number of recipes your kids will love.

The nutrition in Cranberries

Cranberries are an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, K, and E. They also provide calcium, potassium and phosphorus. They are low in fat and provide a good source of dietary fiber. Compared to many other fruits, they are low in sugar as well. Cranberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants, which are known to fight cancer, offer anti-aging properties, and generally promote good health.

Cranberry juice has long been popular as a preventative as well as a treatment for urinary tract infections, as it helps to fight the bacteria that cause the infection and prevent them from sticking to the inside of the urinary tract.

Great Ways to Eat Cranberries

While raw cranberries are by far the best choice, the most popular format for consuming cranberries is via cranberry juice, or the sweetened, dried version of the berry. Use caution with either of these last two options, as they will usually have extra sugar added, especially the dried version. Cranberry sauce or jellied cranberries are particularly popular around Thanksgiving as they are usually served with turkey.

100% cranberry juice is a good source of all the nutrition cranberries have to offer, but kids might find it too tart. Try a mixed juice like cran-apple or cran-grape, as long as it is still 100% juice and doesn’t have added sugar. Remember that one serving of juice per day is enough for a child.

Sweetened dried cranberries can be used anywhere you might usually use raisins. Add them to hot cooked cereal like oatmeal or cream of wheat, or simply offer a handful as a snack. Remember that they do have added sugar, however, so use them in moderation.

Raw cranberries are a very versatile berry, and the tart flavor compliments many other fruits in baked goods. Cranberries are a great addition to berry smoothies, and can also be added to muffins, pancakes, and other baked goods. For a delicious treat, an apple-cranberry pie can’t be beat.

Cranberries are also a wonderful addition to applesauce that can be served with pork or even just eaten as a snack. Use raw cranberries to make a homemade cranberry sauce you can serve not only with your Thanksgiving turkey, but with chicken or other poultry at any time of the year. You can also make cranberry preserves at home, for a tasty and healthier alternative to store-bought jams.

Adding cranberries to your diet as well as your child’s will add a real punch of nutrition with a unique flavor that is versatile in both sweet treats and with meat dishes. The tart cranberry is a great way to steer your child away from foods that are too sweet and full of sugar. Although they are probably too tart to eat the way you would other berries, by the handful, they compliment many other flavors and are well worth the effort for the incredible health benefits they offer.

Sweet and Healthy Cherries

Cherries are such a delicious treat; it’s hard to believe they are so good for you. Their bright red color is the result of powerful antioxidants that offer a number of important health benefits, and they are also a great source of vitamins. Available in sweet and sour (or tart) varieties, cherries offer something for everyone. Whether you eat them raw or bake up a special treat, you can’t go wrong with cherries for nutrition and taste.

Although they have a short growing season, cherries freeze well, making them available year round for cooking and baking.

The Nutrition in Cherries

Anthocyanins, the pigment that makes cherries red, have recently been shown to reduce inflammation, lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and also fight free radicals to prevent cancer. Research into the health benefits of cherries continues to uncover new information.

Cherries are a good source of Vitamins C and K as well as dietary fiber, potassium and magnesium. They are low in fat and cholesterol, and although they contain sugars, the fiber makes up for the simple carbs with more complex carbs too.

Serving Up Cherries

The most popular method of eating cherries is fresh and uncooked. Use caution when serving them to your children, however, as they do contain pits that could present a choking hazard. Fresh sweet cherries while in season are so tasty, your kids will think you are serving up candy, and they will certainly never guess how healthy they are!

Dried cherries are a great addition to trail mix, hot cooked or cold cereal, and pancakes. They’re also a great snack all by themselves. You can also use dried cherries anywhere you might use raisins, from oatmeal cookies to scones. Dried cherries also work great as a sweet touch to dinner recipes like risotto or pasta. The sweet fresh taste of dried cherries is fabulous in tossed salads too.

Use cherries as a replacement for blueberries in your favorite recipes, like cherry muffins instead of blueberry ones. You can also use sour cherries wherever cranberries are called for. Try a delicious cherry sauce in the place of cranberry sauce with turkey or other poultry dishes, or even with pork.

Cherries make a great smoothie – mix them with yogurt all by themselves, or add other berries such as strawberries or blueberries for a more complex flavor and even more extra nutrients. Cherry juice is a great beverage as well, filled with healthy antioxidants and a quick serving of fruit.

There is no way to talk about cherries without a mention of cherry pie. While not a low-calorie choice, if you are going to have dessert, you might as well make it a choice filled with healthy and delicious fruit like cherries. Make your pie filling from scratch with fresh cherries rather than using a filling from a can, to preserve nutrients and keep control of the sugar that is added. Tart or sour cherries are the best choice for pies and other sweet baking applications, as they won’t taste overly sweet when sugar is added.

When using frozen cherries, be aware that the machines that pit the cherries sometimes miss a pit, so look them over just in case, to avoid a painful tooth or choking hazard.

With an incredible flavor and a long list of benefits for your health, there is no reason not to add cherries to your diet. Look to them as a fresh snack or a great way to make baked goods healthier.

Tips for More Nutritious Meals

It can sometimes seem like an overwhelming challenge to make sure you are always serving nutritious meals and snacks, especially when you are too busy to really think much about what’s for dinner. Fortunately, by making just a few simple changes to the way you shop and the way you cook, you can make your food healthier and more nutritious. Follow these easy tips for fast, effortless ways to serve healthier food.

Buy a Steamer Basket

They cost only a few dollars, but provide you with the healthiest, quickest method of cooking your vegetables. Steaming food allows as many of the nutrients to stay inside the food as possible. Boiling causes nutrients to leach out into the water, and sends them down the drain. Microwaving can overcook vegetables and leave them limp and rubbery. Steaming leaves your vegetables looking delicious, allows you to control how cooked you would like them to be, and requires no extra fat to cook.

The frozen food aisles are now full of steam in the bag options for your microwave, which are great but the cost will add up over time. By investing in a steamer basket that fits inside any standard pot, you can buy the freshest, most nutrient packed vegetables and cook them in the healthiest way.

Switch to Whole Grains

This doesn’t just mean bread. Most people know that whole wheat bread is better for you than white, but many don’t realize that brown rice is a better choice than white rice. Just like with the wheat in your bread, white rice has been stripped off all the good stuff – fiber and nutrients. Even if it has been enriched to add nutrients back in, the fiber has been lost for good. Choosing brown rice will give every meal a nutritional boost.

The same goes for pasta, cereals, and even snack crackers. Just by choosing a whole grain option rather than the refined grain, you will increase your fiber intake and make both meals and snacks healthier.

Double Up on Vegetables

When serving up a plate of food, make sure that the vegetables take up more room on your plate than any other part of the meal. Your serving of vegetables should be larger than either protein or grains. By eating more vegetables and less meat, pasta, rice or potatoes, you will eat meal higher in nutrients while also lower in calories. Fill up on the veggies and you will be less likely to overeat those foods you need less of – or those you don’t need to eat at all!

Change Your Beverage

Instead of serving soda with a meal, choose a healthy glass of milk or even fruit juice for extra nutrition. Soda will only provide you with empty calories, or in the case of diet soda, chemicals with no nutritional value at all. When serving your kids a beverage with their meal, stick to milk unless they haven’t had any juice that day. Kids should really only have one serving of juice a day, even if it does contain more nutrition than water.

A meal served with a healthier beverage is a healthier one overall. Just make sure that kids are eating their food and not just downing the milk. It might be necessary to hold back the beverage until the food starts to disappear.

These may seem too good to be true, but they really are simple changes that will make a big difference in nutrition. It doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming to make a healthy meal!

Tips for Safer Finger Foods

Babies have a wonderful time learning to self-feed with finger foods, but there are a number of risks associated with finger foods. Follow this checklist for finger food safety to avoid putting your child at risk of choking.

Cook It Very Well

Adults prefer their vegetables with a little bit of crunch and their pasta al dente, but for a baby to eat these foods they must be a lot softer than how you might serve it on your own plate. Foods like peas, diced carrots, green beans, kernel corn, and potatoes all make excellent choices for finger foods, but need to be cooked until they are very soft. Gently squeeze a piece of the food between your thumb and forefinger. It should require very little force to break the piece down. Although this will also mean that your baby may accidentally crush it before getting it to her mouth, it’s better than trying to dislodge it from her airway. Pasta should also be cooked until it is very soft. Small pieces of meat can be served as finger food, but must be cooked until they are very tender.

Place the baby food in your mouth, and see how easily you can crush it without using your teeth. This is a good test of how well your baby will be able to mash it with her gums.

Cut It Small

Bites of finger foods should be small enough that they won’t become lodged in your baby’s throat, causing choking. Never serve baby a round food without cutting it up further. This applies to foods such as hot dogs, grapes, and other similarly shaped foods. Cheese is also a common choking hazard; cut it into small strips rather than chunks or cubes. Shredded cheese is a great idea for babies, but use shredder with large holes to make pieces big enough to grasp.

Serve It Slowly

Babies don’t always wait until they have swallowed before shoving more food in, which can cause choking due to too much food being in the mouth at once. Place only a few bites at a time in front of your baby to reduce the likelihood that he will cram too much into his mouth. Watch carefully, and remind him to chew and swallow before taking another bite.

Only At the Table!

Don’t let your baby run around with finger foods, or even crawl if he isn’t walking yet. Serve finger foods only at the table or in the high chair, where your baby will be focused on what he is doing and not on the move. Running with food in his mouth will increase the chances of food accidentally entering the airway rather than being swallowed. Keep feeding times calm and relaxed to make sure your baby eats at a reasonable pace.

Test It Before You Serve It

Just as you tested how cooked a food is with your fingers or mouth, you should test any new food you are thinking of offering to baby as a finger food. Make sure that your baby is capable of gumming the food, bearing in mind that he doesn’t have the molars to chew that you have. Even if you think it looks soft enough, it’s best to try it yourself. It also carries the bonus of checking cooked food for appropriate temperature.

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