Eat Smart, Be Fit, Maryland!

Eat Smart, Be Fit, Maryland!

Monday, April 21, 2014

April is Gardening Month

April is National Gardening Month, which is for celebrating gardens, whether they are indoors, outdoors or even on the patio.  If you don't currently have a garden of any kind, this is a great month to get started!

Reduce, Re-Use, Garden!  Start a garden by re-using gallon milk jugs.  You can create lots of different gardens using items that might normally go to the landfill.  To get started:
  • Rinse out the milk jug really good.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut off the top of the jug.
  • Make several small holes in the bottom of the jug for drainage. 
  • Fill the jug 3/4 of the way full with potting soil.
  • Lightly sprinkle lettuce seeds across the soil, spacing seeds about 1/2 inch apart.
  • Cover seeds with approximately 1/8 inch of soil.
  • Moisten with water using a spray bottle.
  • Place on a cookie sheet or tray to collect water running out of the container.
  • Place outdoors in a sunny location or indoors near a sunny window.
  • The top half of the jug with the lid removed can be placed over the garden during the first few weeks to protect the seedlings from frost and hold in heat and moisture while the seeds are growing.
  • Harvest lettuce by cutting at the base of the plant in 30-45 days.
  • Leaves will continue to produce for multiple harvests.
Want to learn more about gardening?  Check out previous posts on Container Gardening and Planting Seeds and Seedlings.

Rinse out a milk jug and cut off the top.

Make several holes in the bottom of the milk jug.
Fill the milk jug 3/4 the way with potting soil.  Sprinkle
seeds across the soil and cover with more soil.

In 30-45 days lettuce will be ready to harvest!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fun Ways to Cook Eggs

Eating more eggs is a wonderful way to give you and your family's health a boost.  Many people are afraid that eating eggs will raise their cholesterol but eggs are actually a great source of protein and vitamins.  One little egg is packed with protein, Vitamin A, E and B vitamins.  Eating the whole egg including the egg white and the yolk will ensure you get all of the nutrition the egg has to offer. Eggs can be a part of the whole family's diet.  Here are some (egg) excellent ideas to get you started!

Four Fun Ways to Cook Eggs
  1. Hard boiled eggs: Hard boiled eggs are healthy and low in fat.  They can be eaten as part of a healthy breakfast, a nutritious snack, dinner salad, or pasta dish.  Once hard boiled eggs are cooled kids can decorate them for a fun twist.  Learn more about hard boiled eggs including how to cook them here.
  2. Omelets:  Omelets are a great way to cook eggs with veggies or low-fat cheese.  They make a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Let kids stir eggs in a small bowl before cooking them in a frying pan with cooking spray.  Add veggies like broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach for a healthy meal.  The kids can also help cut the veggies. Try our Vegetable Omelet with your family.
  3. Scrambled egg sandwiches:  Scrambled eggs are often a favorite for kids and a great protein pack way to start the day.  Make your scrambled eggs with low-fat cheese and spray the pan with cooking spray to cut the fat.  A scrambled egg sandwich with whole grain bread or an English muffin is a great grab and go breakfast for kids.
  4. Quiche:  A quiche is a quick and easy dish made with eggs.  Try making a quiche with a variety of veggies like spinach, green peppers, mushrooms, and onions.   For a healthier option, make a quiche without a crust and use only a small amount of low-fat cheese.  Try this quiche recipe at home for a quick, weeknight dinner.
What is your favorite way to prepare eggs for your family?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Less Salt Makes Good Sense

Do you consume too much salt?  Using less salt will reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.  Everyone, including children, should eat less salt each day.

Many foods we enjoy contain a lot of added salt.  Prepared and convenience foods are especially high in salt.  Try these tips to help you cut back on the salt you use every day.
  • Choose fresh foods.  Eat less processed foods like pizza, bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats, and canned soups.  We get most of our salt from these foods. Fresh foods are lower in salt.
  • Cook more often.  Use spices, herbs, garlic, lemon juice or vinegars to season foods instead of salt.  Try the Eat Smart Seasoning Mix to add flavor without adding salt.
  • Read food labels.  Spend a little time and read the Nutrition Facts Label and the ingredient list to find the foods with less salt.  Choose foods labeled "low sodium", "reduced sodium" or "no salt added".
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Fresh or frozen veggies and fruits are naturally low in salt.  To remove the salt from canned veggies, rinse them under cold water.  Make half your plate fruits and veggies at every meal.
  • Choose dairy and protein foods low in salt.  Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods but be aware of salt content.  While yogurt is low in salt, cheese has more added salt.  Select fresh cuts of meat and seafood.  Use canned meats, sausage and lunch meats every now and then as they contain more salt.  Buy unsalted nuts and seeds for snacks.
  • Trick your taste buds.  Have a taste for salt?  Cut back on salt little by little, your taste for salt will lessen over time.  You will be able to enjoy the natural flavor of foods, and your family's health will be better for it.
  • Make a change.  Following these tips can be helpful to everyone, but especially adults age 51 and older, African Americans of any age and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.  Eating less than a teaspoon of salt each day is recommended.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Celebrate National Walking Day

National Walking Day is Wednesday, April 2nd!  Celebrate the day by getting outside and get the family moving.  Physical activity can sometimes be hard to fit in with busy schedules, but it is very important for your health and well-being.  Taking 30 minutes a day to walk can help to:
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • get your heart pumping
  • help clear your mind
Walking is a great activity that the whole family can enjoy!  Taking a walk around the neighborhood gives your a chance to talk about your day with your family, enjoy the scenery, and get some fresh air.  If the weather is bad, walking inside counts too.  Take a walk around the local mall or department store. Try taking 2-3 laps around the store to get in physical activity.  Make a goal to work 3-4 times a week.

How will you celebrate National Walking Day?

Monday, March 24, 2014

7 Ways to Be Active Outside

Warm weather is on its way, so take the chance to be active outdoors!  Spring is a great time to be active with the family while enjoying some fresh air.  Here are some activities you and your family can do together this spring:
  1. Go for a walk.  Walking is an easy and safe activity for all ages.  A 20-30 minute walk before or after dinner is a good way to boost your health and relax.  Walking is also a slow-paced activity, which means you can talk to your spouse, friends, or kids at the same time.  Try setting activity goals with kids while walking!
  2. Sports.  Sports, such as basketball and soccer, are fun and easy ways to stay active.  Your local park probably has a basketball hoop where you and your family can play.  If not, the open space is great for playing soccer -- you can even make goals out of trash cans or any other object!
  3. Scavenger hunt.  Set up teams and make a list of clues that lead to outside markers like a mailbox or a tree nearby.  Include things that require a lot of movement to find.
  4. Capture the Flag.  This is a fun game that combines activity with thinking.  If possible, choose hiding spots that involve some hills or other obstacles.  Here are the rules:  Capture the Flag.
  5. Hiking.  If you're up for a challenge, try taking a hike on one of our local trails. It is a great way to explore nature, and the changes along the trail make it fun, too.  You can even take a break in the middle and have a picnic with your family!
  6. Jump Rope Contests.  Jumping rope is a great physical activity for the heart.  The best part is they do not cost much or take up much space.  Pick a jump rope up at the local dollar store and have fun contests with the kids.  See who can make the best jumping combinations or who can jump the longest.
  7. Stretch it out.  Don't have much space?  Lay a blanket or a mat outside and take turns leading stretches with the family.  Create a series of stretches and see if the family can follow along!
Staying active is important, and including your family is a great way to do it.  As the warm weather comes, use these options to create a fun time for you and your family.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patty's Day the Healthy Way

Green and St. Patrick's Day go together, so why not celebrate this fun day by trying new green foods with your family?

Plan a special grocery shopping trip with your children to pick out two or three new green fruits and vegetables.  Be sure to give yourself enough time to let your children see, smell and feel all of those yummy green foods at the store.  Then make the foods for a healthy meal or snack in the next day or two when they will taste the best.

What might your children pick?  Here are some ideas:

Have they tried broccoli?   Add a bit of low-fat ranch dressing or hummus on the side for dipping!  Have they ever tried fresh green beans or asparagus (a real treat that is often on sale in the spring)?  Simply add a bit of water and microwave them for a very short period of time and your family will enjoy crisp and flavorful veggies.  Or buy celery, cut up a stalk, and add peanut butter and raisins for an old snack favorite, Ants on a Log.

Slice into a kiwi and surprise the children with the juicy green fruit inside that funny, furry brown skin.  Green grapes are often a big hit with children.  Honeydew melon slices are another option.  They are sweet with a pretty shade of green.

So many choices!  Go green the healthy way and have a fun St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 10, 2014

5 Tips for Choosing Cereal

Who doesn't love a bowl of cereal in the morning?  Cereal is an easy, go to breakfast for the whole family.  Everyone has their favorite kind of cereal, but you want to make sure you're picking the healthiest option for you and your family.  Always check the food label!  There are plenty of healthy choices on the shelves at your grocery store.  Here are some things to look for:
  1. Whole grains --  Look for cereals that are whole grain. Search for the word "whole" in the ingredient list.  If the package says "100% whole grain" then you know you're getting these healthy grains.  The label will also tell you how much fiber is in one serving of cereal.  Choose cereals that have 3 to 5 grams of fiber.  Whole grains and fiber help you feel full for longer.
  2. Low sugar -- Choose cereals with little or no added sugar.  The goals should be a cereal with 8 grams of sugar or less.  Make sure to watch out for the cereals on the bottom shelf with colorful packaging and characters because these tend to have more sugar and are more appealing to children.
  3. Low fat -- Most cereals are low in fat, but you look at the food label to ensure that the cereal that you are choosing is low in fat.  Choose a cereal that has less than 3 grams of fat and no trans-fat.  The options are endless!  Cereals that are low in fat are generally heart healthy too.
  4. Low calorie -- Try to choose a cereal that has between 100 and 200 calories per serving.  Don't forget that having more than one serving increases the calories!  Always check to see what the serving size is.  Usually the serving size of a bowl of cereal is 3/4 to 1 cup.  Measuring your cereal to get the right portion size.
  5. Store brand -- Instead of buying brand cereal try the generic store brand.  You can sometimes find these cereals on the same shelf.  These cereals are cheaper and have the same flavors and nutrition.
Don't forger the check the food label!  Cereals high in fiber, low in sugar, fat, and calories are the most nutritious cereals for you and your family.