Monday, December 15, 2014

Healthy Holiday Tips!

The holidays are here!  Make this season festive and healthy.  Follow these tips when planning meals and holiday get-togethers.

Healthy Eating Tips
  1. Plan and eat balanced meals that include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  These foods will help you fill up without the extra calories.  Visit MyPlate's 10 Tips for Making Healier Holiday Choices for more information.
  2. For appetizers and snacks, serve raw vegetables and fruits with low-fat yogurt dips.
  3. Eat smaller portions of food.  Enjoying smaller amounts can help avoid the additional calories that often come with holiday foods.
  4. Eat a healthy snack before going to a party.  A salad and a piece of fruit before the event will help you control your eating.
  5. When at a party, spend less time at the food table and more time visiting with family and friends.
  6. Make time for physical activity: take a walk, play some touch football, or enjoy holiday music.  Get the whole family moving.
Healthy Food Preparation Tips
  • Substitute fat-free or 1% milk for whole milk in recipes.
  • Use plain non-fat yogurt instead of mayonnaise and cream in your recipes.
  • Saute vegetables for stuffing in non-fat chicken broth.
  • Use fresh or dried herbs and spices in recipes to boost flavor instead of butter, sugar, and salt.
  • Try a healthier version of a favorite dish.  Your family will welcome the change and few calories.  Visit our Eat Smart Website for recipes such as Baked Apples and Sweet Potatoes and other healthy recipes.

Monday, December 8, 2014

How to Get Your Family Fit for the Holidays!

The holiday season is a very busy time for many families and can be hard to find time to get in physical activity.  However, fitting in small amounts of physical activity more frequently can make a big difference.   Try some of these tips to stay active over the holidays:
  • Move more when running errands.  Park in the back of the parking lot, walk an extra lap around the mall, and choose the stairs over the escalator.  
  • Clean up the house.  Cleaning out the closet, raking leaves, shoveling snow,  cooking can even count towards physical activity!
  • Play a game of touch football or other sports with family and friends.  Play football, soccer or kickball - or any other sport that your family enjoys.  Be sure to get the kids involved in choosing the sport or activity.
  • Schedule a walking date.  Catch up with an old friend by exploring a new walking trail or take a stroll around the neighborhood.
  • Check out the neighborhood light display.  Have a family walk around your neighborhood or nearby park to see all of the beautiful lights on display.
What is your favorite physical activity to do with your family during busy times?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Let's Celebrate "Dining In" for Healthy Families Day!

This week we are celebrating the First Annual Family and Consumer Sciences Day on December 3rd.  The theme this year is "Dining In" for Healthy Families.  We are encouraging every family to join in and plan a healthy meal to prepare and eat together.

Did you know that....
  • Toddlers that eat the same foods at meal time as their parents are healthier.
  • Children that eat dinner with their family have improved reading skills.
  • Teens that have family meals are less likely to smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Family meals give you time to talk about your day.

Here are some ideas on how your family can enjoy a healthy meal together this week.
  • Choose a new recipe to try with your family.  Our Eat Smart Website has many recipes that your family will love to try.  Let your child help you prepare it!
  • Double your recipes and freeze the extra food.  This will allow you to just thaw and heat a meal for a later time.
  • Keep it simple.  Dinners do not have to take a lot of time and work.  Have foods on hand like canned tuna or chicken, whole grain pasta and frozen veggies for a quick meal.
  • Use a slow cooker.  A slow cooker is a great way to let food items during the day and have little preparation to do when you get home for a healthy meal.
  • Dining with your family can be any meal -- breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks.  Try to have regular family meals two to three times per week.
We want to hear from you!  What is your favorite healthy dinner that you have as a family?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tips for Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thanksgiving meals are a time to gather with friends and family.  During the holiday season, it is important to remember several steps to keep your family food safe.  Here are a few tips to remember:
  1. Thawing the turkey.  Remember to thaw your turkey properly before cooking.  Thaw under cold running water or in the microwave.  Cook immediately after thawing.
  2. Cook your turkey until it is done.  Take the temperature of the turkey.  It is done when it reaches 165 degrees F.  Check the temperature at the thickest part of the breast or innermost part of the wing and thigh.  Let your turkey cool for 20 minutes before carving.
  3. Use separate cutting boards.  Cut meat and veggies on separate cutting boards to prevent spreading bacteria.
  4. Refrigerate leftovers.  It is really important that leftovers are refrigerated within 2 hours of serving so that they will be okay to eat later.  Leftovers are good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and in the freezer for 2-6 months. 
Check out the Let's Talk Turkey infographic for additional Turkey Tips.
Infographic courtesy of
Also available in Spanish

Leftovers are always part of any large meal.  Don't let the food go to waste!   We have 2 different recipes to make the most of your holiday leftovers.

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

2 cups leftover sweet potatoes
3 cups leftover turkey
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 onion
2 carrots
3 celery stalks
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups - turkey or chicken broth
3 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons butter

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Wash and chop onions, carrots, and celery.  Add frozen peas and chopped turkey.
  3. In a separate bowl, mash sweet potatoes.
  4. In a skillet, melt butter. Whisk in flour for 1 minute.  Add in broth and season to taste.  Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes until it begins to thicken. 
  5. Combine bowl of onion, carrots, celery, peas, and turkey with the thickened broth.  Put in a casserole dish.
  6. Place mashed sweet potatoes on top of other ingredients.
  7. Place in oven to baked for 15 minutes.

Turkey Waldorf Salad

2 cups leftover turkey, chopped
2 stalks celery, washed and chopped
1 crisp apple (may use 1/2 cup dried cranberries), washed and chopped
1 cup seedless red grapes, washed and sliced
1/4 cup pecans (coarsely chopped -- optional)
1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice

  1. Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add chicken, apples, grapes, celery, and walnuts.  Stir to coat well.
  3. Serve with salad greens.

For additional recipes, check out our previous Leftover blog.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

Thanksgiving is this week, so now is the best time to start meal planning.  Think about ways to include healthy choices into your holiday meals.  Check out these tips this year to have a happy, healthy holiday season!

  1. Eat breakfast.  Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a great way to keep up your energy all day! Try to avoid skipping breakfast (or any meal) to keep you from feeling tired.  For breakfast ideas, check out one of our previous blog posts.
  2. Change the way you season.  Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy family, friends, and great food.  This season change the way you prepare your favorite foods with a few healthy choices.  Make simple changes like flavoring with herbs, spices or another salt-free seasoning or selecting the white meat on the turkey instead of the dark meat. 
  3. More veggies the better.  With a wide variety of foods to choose from, try to fill at least half of your plate with veggies.  Make a goal to try at least one new veggie this holiday season.  You may find a new food that you like!
  4. Drink plenty of water.  This holiday season (and all year long) make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your meals.  Drinking water will keep you hydrated and not add extra calories.  Drinking water will also make you feel full too.
  5. Step away from the kitchen.  Once you are finished eating, try doing physical activity with family and friends.  Have the family play a game of touch football or take a walk together.
Enjoy the holiday season!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Where Does Food Go? Food Storage Tips for Your Home!

Do you ever find yourself wondering where to keep certain foods?  While it may seem easy to figure out which foods should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer, some foods may not be so easy to figure out.  Check out the details below for more information on how and where to store your foods!

Fruits and Veggies
Most fruits and veggies can be stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.  A few fruits and veggies taste best when stored on the kitchen counter at room temperature.

Fruit or Vegetable
Storage Location
Kitchen counter, or other cool, dark place
Use within 3 weeks
Kitchen counter
Use within 1 week
Kitchen counter, or other cool, dry place
Use within 2 weeks
Once ripe on the counter, store in the refrigerator until ready to eat
Use within 1 week
Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Pears
Once ripe on the counter, store in the refrigerator until ready to eat
Use within 1-2 weeks

Store these items in the refrigerator.  Keep them in their own drawer or on the lowest shelf if your refrigerator to keep any raw juices from coming into contact with other foods.  Be sure to freeze meat, fish and poultry by the date on the outside of the packaging.

Dairy and Eggs
Store these items in the back of the refrigerator where it is the coldest.  Use by the date on the outside of the package.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall produce Picks

It's that time of the year.....the leaves are almost finished changing colors, the air is getting cooler, and the nights are getting shorter.  But, fall vegetables are not just for display.  There are many fall fruits and veggies that are waiting to be on your dinner table. These include:  apples, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.  Let's talk about four fall produce foods:
  1. Brussels Sprouts
  2. Brussels sprouts
    • These look like miniature cabbage and are packed with vitamins like vitamin K, vitamin C and folate.  They also contain fiber, which keeps you fuller longer. 
    • Brussels sprouts can be steamed, roasted, and sautéed.  You can even grill them.  Just add a little olive oil and your favorite spices to them and you're set for a quick and easy dinner side dish.
  3. Spaghetti Squash
    • This squash is lots of fun because it looks like spaghetti once it's cooked and scraped out
      with a fork.  The yellow  flesh inside gives you lots
      of beta-carotene (vitamin A) and vitamin C.
    • Spaghetti squash
    • You can use spaghetti squash just like you use regular pasta. Drizzle the strands with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, or add your favorite sauce.  Try our easy Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Basil and Parmesan recipe.
  4. Butternut Squash
    • Like spaghetti squash, butternut squash also contains beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber.  It has a rich nutty flavor which can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.
    • Butternut Squash

    • You can roast butternut squash and then puree to make a hearty soup, or mix chunks of it with other roasted fall veggies.  Don't forget about the seeds, which are packed with vitamin E and other minerals.  Roast them for a healthy snack.
  5. Apples
    • They don't say that apples keep the doctor away for nothing!  Apples contain vitamin C,
      fiber, and antioxidants. 
    • Send a whole apple in your child's lunch box, bake them in a crisp, or dice them up and use them as toppings for oatmeal and yogurt. 
You are probably wondering where you can find fall produce.  Stop by your local farmers' market for in-season produce that is low in cost.   Find your local farmers' market here