Mary’s Memo – December 12th


Enjoy your party with guests by ordering ahead relish, cheese and/or meat trays in the deli. They’ll even arrange food on your own serving plates.


Is it okay to eat food that had fallen on the floor? Many people abide by the “5-second rule,” which says that anything is fair game if you pick it up within that frame that time frame. Some allow 10, 20, even 30 seconds to pass before relegating the food to the trash bin. But others argue that no dropped food is safe. Who’s right?

The 5-second rule has actually been put to scientific testing. In the latest study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology in September, researchers at Rutgers University dropped four foods (watermelon, plain bread, buttered bread and gummy candy) onto four surfaces (stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet) that were contaminated with bacteria. They let the foods stay in contact with the surface for four time periods …. Less than 1 second, 5 seconds and 300 seconds. Each scenario was tested 20times. Not surprisingly, watermelon, because it is so moist, became most contaminated at all time intervals, while the fewest bacteria transferred to the candy. Carpet had the lowest transfer rates.

The study’s conclusion: “Although we show that longer contact times result in more transfer, we also show that other factors including the nature of the food and the surface are of equal or greater importance. Some transfer takes place ‘instantaneously’ at times less than one second, disproving the 5-second rule.’

Bottom Line: Use common sense. Occasionally eating food that was briefly on the floor is likely to make you sick. But it depends on what you drop and where. There’s a big difference between picking up a cracker from a just cleaned kitchen floor versus the floor near the cat litter box. On the other hand, since it’s hard to judge how clean a floor is, you shouldn’t make eating off of it a habit. And if you’re immune-compromised or in frail health, it’s best to follow the “zero-second” rule. Keep in mind, too, that kitchen counters can be even more contaminated than the floor.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, December, 2016.


Count it as one of your meals of the day, at least that’s what I do so additional calories are not added to the day’s total.


Folate, B12 and B6 (pyridoxine) are the nutrients that receive the most attention for improving brain health, due to their well-studied role in reducing homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid, that in high levels is linked to brain shrinkage, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline and coronary artery disease. However, the remaining B vitamins, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and biotin (B6), not only produce energy, but also reduce homocysteine levels. Deficiency in B vitamins can lead to fatigue, weakness, mood changes, cognitive impairment and emotional disturbances. “It’s important to eat a balanced diet for brain health, in particular for adequate amounts of B vitamins,” says Abigale Arday, RD, CDN, CNSC, dietitian at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell. B vitamins are found in a variety of food groups. Animal products like salmon, tuna eggs, meat, chicken and dairy products contain the highest amounts of riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B5, B6 and B12. Beans and nuts provide significant amounts of biotin, niacin and B6. A wide variety of whole foods is key to meeting all of your B vitamin needs.
Source: Weill Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, December 2016.


Children love Scotcharoos and the cook appreciates the ease of preparation.


• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup white corn syrup
• 1 cup peanut butter
• 6 cups Rice Krispies
• 6-ounces chocolate chips
• 6-ounces butterscotch chips

Source: Adapted from recipe.

Combine sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir well. Add to Rice Krispies in a large bowl. Spread evenly in a buttered 4-inch by 9-inch pan. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together over low heat, stirring constantly until blended. Spread evenly over top of Scotcharoos. When cool, cut into 2 by 2-inch squares.


• Grasshopper Ice is a light, refreshing dessert to serve with a holiday meal.
• 1 pint (2 cups) lime sherbet, softened
• 2 cups thawed Cool Whip
• 2 tablespoons Crème de Cocoa
• 2 tablespoons Crème de Menthe
• Combine softened sherbet with thawed Cool Whip. Add liqueurs and freeze.

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