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Sharp Health News

Is it safe to meal prep? (recipe)

Jan. 27, 2017

Is it safe to meal prep? (recipe)

Did one of your New Year’s resolutions involve eating healthier or going on some sort of diet? With the New Year in full swing, some looked to prepping or preparing their lunches and dinners at the beginning of each week to help with weight loss efforts.

Prepping meals can also help maintain portion control; complex carbohydrate, healthy fat and lean protein intake; nutritional value; and more. Although one might ask: Is it really safe to eat that chicken, rice and veggie bowl you cooked five days ago? Good news: It is.

According to Mindy Fehsenfeld, Sodexo registered dietitian and culinary specialist at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, ready-to-eat foods can be stored up to seven days if the foods are held at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. The Food and Drug Administration suggests keeping refrigerator thermometers at 40 degrees or lower.

“Cooked meats, vegetables, beans and rice can be stored safely in the refrigerator for up to seven days as long as they are enclosed in air-tight containers,” explains Fehsenfeld. “Many commercial food establishments will shorten the allowable time for storing cooked food to three or five days only for quality reasons or appearance; however, based on national food safety guidelines, it is safe to eat foods stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days.”

For those meal-prepping enthusiasts reading this while preparing lunches and dinners on a Sunday afternoon, you’re safe. Next time you’re prepping meals, consider one of Mindy’s favorite recipes, created by the Culinary Institute of America.

Posole Poblano Soup
Yields 6 servings

Ingredients
4 poblano chiles
4 teaspoons canola oil
1 ancho chile
10 ounces (roughly 2 1/2 cups) smoked pork, diced
1 1/4 cups diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup canned hominy, rinsed and drained
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup diced jicama (optional)
1 tomatillo (papery hull removed), washed and diced (optional)
2 to 3 radishes, cut into matchsticks (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Heat your oven broiler. (If you don’t have a broiler, try this technique for fire-roasted peppers.)

Brush poblanos with 1 teaspoon canola oil. Place poblanos under broiler and turn as they roast so that each side is blackened evenly. Once roasted, put the poblanos in a bowl and cover for 10 minutes. Remove from the bowl and pull off skin. Remove the seeds, ribs and stem from the poblanos. Chop the flesh coarsely and set aside.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Remove the stem and seeds from the ancho; spread open and flatten it into a single layer. Toast the ancho by placing it in the hot skillet and applying pressure with a metal spatula until it crackles, after 3 to 5 seconds. Flip and repeat on other side. Coarsely chop the ancho and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the remaining canola oil over medium heat. Season the pork cubes with a small amount of salt and pepper and add to the pot. Cook until the pork is well-browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook 1 more minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add 4 1/2 cups of the chicken broth, along with the oregano and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the remaining 1 1/2 cups of broth and the ancho in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chile is tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer this mixture to a food processor or blender and blend until the mixture is smooth.

When the soup has simmered for at least 20 minutes, add the ancho puree. Continue to simmer for another 15 minutes. Then add the poblanos and hominy. Simmer for 10 more minutes.

Just before serving, season the soup to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper. Serve with cheese, cilantro, jicama, tomatillo and radish.

For the news media: To speak with Mindy Fehsenfeld about meal prepping for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at erica.carlson@sharp.com.

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