Most people are aware that raw meat, poultry and seafood carry risks of foodborne illness. But did you know you could also get sick from contaminated produce?

Food safety is critical to keeping yourself and your family healthy. With some simple safe food-handling behaviors for selecting, washing, preparing and storing fresh produce, you can prevent contamination and protect your health.

Learn how you can practice food safety — from farmers market to fork — with this step-by-step guide for making this produce-packed Veggie Quesadilla.

1. Selecting

First, we’ll learn how to choose fruits and vegetables. The recipe calls for:

  • 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • ¾ cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 4 6” tortillas
  • ½ cup low-far cheddar cheese, shredded

You should be able to find the pepper, onion, tomato and cilantro at a local farmers market.

There, use your senses when selecting produce. Ripe peppers (and most non-leafy veggies) should be as firm as possible, and evenly colored. Avoid veggies with cracks on the base or bruises on the skin. When selecting tomatoes, surfaces should be firm (but not solid) and largely smooth and even. They should have a light, sweet smell, too. If they smell sour or stinky, they’re probably overripe. This goes for most other fruit, too.

As for the tortillas, cheese and corn, if you can’t find them at the farmers market, head to the supermarket. The recipe calls for frozen corn, but canned corn will also work. If you do buy it frozen, put it, the cheese and any other refrigerated items in your cart last so they stay as fresh as possible before refrigerating at home.

2. Washing

Before you begin cooking, wash your hands.

Use hot, soapy water, and wash them for at least 20 seconds. Then, wash your fruit.

Rinse your pepper, green onions, tomatoes and cilantro under cold, running water. You shouldn’t use any soaps or cleaners for washing produce. If you’re using canned corn, clean the lid before opening.

3. Preparing

The instructions for the Veggie Quesadilla recipe are pretty simple:

  1. Spray a medium skillet with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Sauté bell pepper and corn over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.
    •   If you’re using frozen corn, place it under cold, running water to thaw it out before cooking.
  3. Add green onion and tomato, and cook for several minutes more until heated through. Then, add cilantro.
  4. Heat tortillas in a large skillet over high heat.
  5. Place equal amounts of cheese and vegetables on each tortilla. Fold them in half and continue to cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is crisped and lightly brown.
  6. Serve while hot.

It’s not in the recipe, but you could add chicken to your quesadilla for some additional protein. If you do, use a separate cutting board from the one used for chopping veggies. This will help avoid cross-contamination. Also, cook the chicken to at least 165°F, and never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw poultry.

4. Storing

With this recipe, you won’t use all of your fruits and veggies. So you’ll need to store them in the refrigerator to slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Watch the video to learn which fruits and veggies you should store on the counter, and which ones should go in the fridge.

If you have leftover quesadillas, promptly refrigerate them, and consume within 3-4 days.

Watch below for the full recipe video, and find other meal planning ideas and more food safety tips at ShapeYourFutureOK.com.