Monday, July 28, 2014

Healthy Grill Recipes

Did you know that many in-season fruits and veggies can be grilled?  Squash, zucchini, mushrooms, peaches, corn, and asparagus all are great choices of foods to try on the grill.  Grilled fruits and veggies are bursting with flavor and they also pack a nutritional punch, providing key vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.  They're also the perfect way to add a variety of colors to your meal.

Grilling fruits and veggies are very easy!  Try these steps to grill your favorite veggies for dinner!
  1. Choose your favorite combination of veggies like squash, zucchini, onions, and bell peppers.
  2. Chop veggies up into bite-size pieces.
  3. Make a bowl or pan out of aluminum foil.  Add veggies to aluminum foil.
  4. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil or cooking spray to veggies.  Sprinkle with a seasoning of your choice like pepper or other dried herbs.
  5. Cook on the grill 5-10 minutes.
Try grilling fruit, too!  Try this recipe for a nice dessert idea from the grill!

Grilled Fruit

Yield:  3 Servings

1 cup pineapple chunks
1 peach (cubed)
1 banana (sliced)

1.  Place fruit chunks on a skewer to make kabobs.
2.  Grill or broil on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden.

Note:  If using wooden skewers, thoroughly soak skewers in water prior to using to prevent burning (approximately 30 minutes).

Recipe from USDA SNAP-Ed Recipe Finder

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tips for Staying Hydrated in the Heat

On hot days during the summer, it's really important to stay hydrated.  Our bodies need to keep hydrated to help the heart and muscles work properly.  Try these tips this summer to keep hydrated:
  1. Drink enough water to prevent feeling thirsty.
  2. When doing any type of physical activity, drink water before, during and after the activity.
  3. Eat five cups of fruits and veggies a day.  Fruits and veggies have some water in them.
  4. Keep a reusable water bottle on hand and refill to have water always available.
  5. Make your own Homemade Sports Drink that has less calories and healthier for you!
Have trouble drinking water?  Try adding flavor with lemons, limes, berries or other fruits.  Adding fresh or frozen fruits can add flavor with adding extra sugar and calories.  

Enjoy the summer and keep hydrated when being outside!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Snack Healthy This Summer

During the summer months children spend more time at home.  Keep healthy snacks on hand to give them the energy they need to play and have fun.  In-season fruits and veggies that are now available in grocery stores and at farmers' markets are good snack choices.  Try these tips for healthy snacking.

  • Grab and Go Snacks.  Keep sliced vegetables in the refrigerator and serve with dips like hummus or low-fat salad dressing.  Other great grab and go snacks include pretzels, air popped popcorn, trail mix, or peanut butter with crackers.
  • Yummy Fresh Fruits.  In season berries, pears, peaches, and melons as well as bananas and apples can provide an easy "grab and go" snack.  Always wash fresh produce before eating or cooking.
  • Swap out the Sugar. Make your snacks healthier by replacing sugary ingredients with healthier choices.  Top a graham cracker with low-fat vanilla yogurt and sliced strawberries.  Place another graham cracker on top to make Strawberry S'mores.   Blueberries and sliced peaches make great toppings, too.
  • Mix it Up.  Blend plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt with 100% juice and fresh berries or peaches for a tasty fruit smoothie.  Buy only the amount of fresh produce your family will use within a few days.  Freeze the rest to use at a later time.
  • Nibble on Lean Protein.  Choose lean protein foods such as low-sodium deli meats, unsalted nuts, low-fat cheese or eggs.  Wrap sliced low-sodium deli turkey or ham around an apple wedge or a cherry tomato.  Store these in the refrigerator to be enjoyed as "grab and go" snacks.

Place a plastic container in the refrigerator to keep all snacks together so children can grab them when they are hungry.  Prepare single-serving snacks for younger children to help them get just enough to satisfy their hunger.  Let older kids make their own snacks by keeping healthy foods in the kitchen.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Stay at Home Family Vacation!

You don't have to travel to the beach or the mountains to have a wonderful summer.  Try having a vacation at home with the family this year.  With a little creativity and imagination it can be a lot of fun.  Here are some ideas to get you started on your very own at home vacation!
  1. Have a family picnic -- Put a special twist on the day and take the family outside for a picnic.  Pack foods like whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy, and vegetables.  Let the kids help cut fruits and veggies and pack the meal.  Be sure to pay attention to food safety and don't leave foods in the sun for too long!
  2. Make Strawberry S'mores -- Try this healthy twist to S'mores for a fun summer treat with the kids.  This fun recipe uses low-fat yogurt, strawberries, and graham crackers for a delicious treat.
  3. Go for a family hike:  Check out this website to find a local hiking trail near your home:  Pack plenty of water and healthy snacks like nuts and dried fruit for a fun, active day with the family.
  4. Set up an obstacle course --  Create a fun obstacle course around the year.  Have everyone hop on one foot, jump, run, and crawl around for some family friendly fun!
  5. Have a camp out --  Check the weather to see if it's a nice night and set up camp outside with sleeping bags, bug spray, flashlights and some summer reading books!  If outside isn't safe try an indoor camp. 
  6. Cook a family meal -- Plan a special meal with the family.  Let all the family members help prepare a healthy memorable meal.  Use a table cloth and nice dishes and make it an extra special night.  Here are some healthy recipe ideas the family can cook together:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Delicious and Nutritious July 4th Celebration

Have an explosion of tastes this Fourth of July with fun summer recipes.  As gardens bloom, the variety of fruits and veggies available at your local farmers market or grocery store will grow.  Try choosing in-season produce with sweet, cool, and refreshing treats by including fruits like:
    •  Blueberries
    • Strawberries
    • Cantaloupe
    • Watermelon
    • Cherries
Veggies that are also in season can be used in recipes are:
    • Beets
    • Carrots
    • Bell peppers
    • Corn
    • Summer squash
    • Zucchini
Fresh Fruity Kabobs are a quick snack that the whole family will enjoy making.  Place bowls of fruit on the table and let your child choose what they would like to place on their kabob.  Not only is this a fun activity, but a great way to encourage children to eat fruits.  Add a festive twist by using strawberries, bananas, and blueberries. 

A chilled pasta dish is a great way to serve whole grains and celebrate the holiday.  Confetti Spaghetti combines whole-wheat pasta with red bell peppers, cauliflower, and purple cabbage.  This red, white, and blue dish is quick and easy to make.  You can also add any other favorite veggies to this dish. 

Get ready for your Fourth of July celebrations by getting in the kitchen with your family and trying a new nutritious, quick, and cool summer dish!

Check out these and other tasty Fourth of July recipes:

Monday, June 30, 2014

Grilling Up Food Safety for a Yummy and Safe Summer!

As the weather heats up and the grills come out, follow these food safety tips to ensure you and your family enjoy a safe grilling season.

Safe food prep:
  • Check the date to make sure you buy food items that are not expired.
  • Do not buy products with torn packaging.
  • When thawing meat leave food in the refrigerator.  For quicker thawing,  you can put meat in the microwave to defrost and then immediately place the food on the grill to cook.  Don't leave meats on the counter to thaw.
  • When marinating foods, place back in the refrigerator to stay at a safe temperature.
Watch our for cross-contamination:
  • Wash your hands between preparing and cooking each food item.  If you are going to the park or a location away from home pack wipes and hand sanitizer to use.
  • Use separate cutting boards to cut raw meat and veggies.
  • Clean forks, knives, tongs, and other equipment with soap and water after handling raw meat before touching the cooked foods.
  • Always use a clean plate for the cooked meat.
Cook your food safely:
  • Make sure to clean the grill before you start cooking.
  • Cook your meat to the right temperature:
      • Poultry or stuffed meats:  165 degrees F
      • Ground meats:  155 degrees F
      • Seafood and steaks:  145 degrees F
      • Vegetables or fruit:  135 degrees F
If you do not finish all the food you cook:
  • Immediately place food in the refrigerator or freezer. If food sits out for more than two hours, or one hour if it is above 90 degrees F, throw it out!
  • Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days.  If putting leftovers in the freezer, they can be kept for up to four months.  Date your food before storing so you know when to toss it.
  • Remember:  reheat all foods to 165 degrees F before serving the second time!

For more food safety tips:

Grilling -- Home Food Safety
Grilling Food Safety 101
Barbeque and Food Safety


Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer's Here!! Fun Active Ideas for the Whole Family

Summer is finally here and it's the perfect season to spend time being active.  There are so many ways to get physical activity that you can do while soaking up the sun.  Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.  Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.  Let the nice weather help you to reach your goals!

Find a national park or a local park near you. 

Check for local hiking trails near your home.  Take the family for an outdoor adventure with nature.  Explore the trail and see what you can find along the way.  Take a healthy Popcorn Trail Mix along as a snack for when you get hungry.

Biking is a great way to explore the area around you and it's a great workout.  Take the whole family and ride around the town or through a local park.

Enjoy the weather and check out new places.  Go as a family and if you have a pet bring them too!  Have a picnic or take snacks for a treat after a long walk.  Great picnic or snack ideas are MyPlate Hamwiches or MyPlate Wraps as they are quick grab and go meals!  Make sure to keep them in a cooler or have ice packs on hand to keep them from getting too warm and spoiling.

Go to the local pool and play or swim some laps.  Swimming is a good workout and a great way to cool down in the hot summer sun.  If you don't have a pool nearby you can use a sprinkler to jump through instead.

Play soccer, basketball, baseball, kickball, or any other backyard games you can think of.  Grab your friends and family, make teams and be active!

What is your favorite way to be active outside during the summer?