I must admit, I caught the holiday spirit a little early this year. I started listening to Christmas music the morning after Halloween, and my freezer is filling up with holiday cookies I’m baking ahead of time.

This year, I’ve decided to embrace the holiday season and make room for more joy in my home and in my life. So I’m singing along to Gene Autry Christmas songs while I’m washing dishes, and I’m giving out candy canes wherever I go.

In this edition of the Iowa Dish, we offer tips from a USDA food safety expert on preparing a joyful, and safe, holiday meal for your family and friends.

We also talk to an Iowa State University dietitian who recommends that instead of making yet another New Year’s resolution to lose weight in 2019, we should focus on adopting healthier, non-weight-related goals for a lifetime.

Her best piece of advice for 2019: Quit following weight-loss “experts” on Instagram and instead follow cute dogs. Trust me, it will make you a whole lot happier.

Finally, we take a closer look at the new Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index®, which found that Iowans still prefer real meat, dairy and eggs on their holiday tables to the new plant-based imitators. Iowa State University nutrition expert Dr. Ruth MacDonald also explains what is lab-grown meat and how it compares nutritionally to real meat.

And if you receive an Instant Pot as a Christmas gift, check out our recipe for four-way shredded beef, a versatile meal for cold nights snuggled up in your ugly Christmas sweater at home.

From all of us here at the Iowa Dish and the Iowa Farm Bureau, we wish you a joyous holiday and a safe and healthy New Year. Thank you all for reading, and please keep sending us your questions about food and farming.


Teresa Bjork
Editor, The Iowa Dish

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