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Preparing for the upcoming holidays

Luella Morehouse, NDSU Extension

As we start to prepare for the upcoming holidays, thoughts turn to family, food, and finding enough time to fit everything in! Remember food safety when preparing for those holiday buffets and follow these tips on safe food handling.

*Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling food. Use soap and scrub for 20 seconds.

*Be careful not to cross-contaminate. Use clean dishcloths, cutting boards, utensils and plates when preparing and serving food.

*Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator or under cold water.

*Cook foods to the recommended internal temperature and use a food thermometer to check if foods are “done.” Cook turkey, chicken and stuffing to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.

*If you cook food ahead of time to reheat later, be sure to cook it until it is “done,” then refrigerate it in shallow pans. Before serving, reheat it to 165°F.

*Cook stuffing in a casserole dish separate from the turkey.

*Don’t give bacteria the opportunity to grow and possibly make people sick. Perishable food should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours.

*Arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on one large platter. Refill as needed.

*Keep hot foods hot in the oven set at 200 to 250°F, or in a slow cooker set on low.

*Keep cold foods cold. Keep food such as salads, cut-up fruit or vegetables in the refrigerator until serving time.

Six ways to slim down your holiday recipes

You can slim down your recipes and menus in many ways.

*Use reduced-fat cheese in casseroles.

*Replace “regular” sour cream with nonfat sour cream or plain nonfat yogurt.

*Try substituting applesauce for the oil in muffins or banana bread, but note that substituting applesauce does not work when making cookies.

*If you make stuffing for a turkey, add extra onions, celery and even fruits such as cranberries.

*Instead of fried onion rings on a green bean casserole, sprinkle the top with sliced almonds.

*Remove the skin from the turkey slices before serving.

Excerpted from “” For more information on this topic, contact Luella Morehouse, FNP education assistant, NDSU Extension Service Stutsman County, 116 1/2 1st St. E, Jamestown, ND, 252-9030 or