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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Color Your Family's Plate

Our world is surrounded by color: the blue sky, green grass, white clouds, and red fire trucks. Everywhere you look there is color! Think of your favorite grocery store. What department has the most color? Why, the produce department of course! No matter what time of year, the produce department is filled with vibrant reds, greens, oranges, purples, and yellows.

These vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables are bursting with health benefits. Encourage your family to make half of their plates fruits and vegetables. Adding fruits and vegetables to your plate will give it color and also help make half the plate fruits and vegetables.

Pancakes for breakfast are just brown. Topping the pancakes with strawberries and adding a glass of 100% grape juice will jazz up the color and increase the vitamins and minerals.

Does your family have sandwiches for lunch? If so, add color and nutrients to the sandwich by adding a dark green leafy vegetables, peppers, and tomatoes. Challenge your taste buds and try new combinations. Shredded carrots are delicious on a tuna salad and sliced red grapes add a sweet taste to a chicken salad sandwich.

When serving white meats such as chicken, turkey or pork, try topping the meats with a warm cranberry sauce rather than a gravy. Serve sweet potatoes as a side instead of white potatoes for added color and taste.

So the next time you are planning a family meal, think about what you can do to add color to the plate with fruits and vegetables. It's a simple, yet fun way to make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

Goal for this month:
  • Add a blue or red fruit or vegetable to breakfast.
  • Add a dark green vegetable for lunch.
  • Add an orange vegetable for dinner.
  • Purchase a new colorful fruit or vegetable the next time you go shopping.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Power Up with Breakfast

 Power Up with Breakfast

Is your child tired, hungry, or grumpy?  Are you tired, hungry, and grumpy?  Many children and adults do not eat breakfast
in the morning leaving them tired and possibly grumpy. This makes it hard for children to learn in
school and adults to concentrate. Breakfast
is a great way "power up" and get your morning off to a great start.

Let's look at some of the common reasons people may not eat breakfast and some easy solutions.

"I don't have enough time in the morning"
  • Get up 15 minutes earlier. You may want to start by just getting up 5
    minutes earlier each day and by the end of the week, you will have gained 15
    minutes - enough time for breakfast.
  • Plan what you are going to have for breakfast the night before to save time in the morning.
  • Students who don't have enough time to
    eat breakfast at home can eat breakfast at school (many schools now serve
  • Keep quick breakfast foods available to eat on the run. Here are some examples.
- Small yogurt container
- Granola bars or fruit bars
- Fruit
- Cheese stick

"I'm not hungry first thing in the morning"
  • Rather than skipping breakfast, try
    waiting 30 minutes or so after you get up to eat breakfast.
  • Try a lighter breakfast such as yogurt
    and fruit or a slice of toast with peanut butter.
  • Try eating breakfast every morning for a week - you may start to get hungry in the morning once your body
    adapts to a new eating schedule
"I'm trying to lose weight"
  • Research indicates that eating
    breakfast can actually help a person lose or maintain weight.
  • Include a protein source, such as milk, cheese or peanut butter as part of your breakfast. This will help you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
"Breakfast foods are boring"

Breakfast doesn't need to be boring! Here are some great ideas:

Quick and easy
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Granola bars or breakfast bars
  • Fresh fruit
  • Peanut butter sandwich
  • Whole wheat toast
  • Cheese stick
  • Nuts
  • Whole grain muffins 
A bit more preparation, but worth the wait
  • Oatmeal
  • Hard cooked egg
  • Whole grain pancakes
  • Scrambled eggs with veggies
This month's challenge (pick one of the following)
  • If you or your children are currently not eating breakfast, try eating breakfast for a week.
  • If you currently eat breakfast, try to vary your breakfast with different fruits.
Breakfast is important so make time for it each day. Share your favorite breakfast idea in the comment section below. For simple breakfast recipes, visit The Recipe Box.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Quick Meals for Busy Families

Monday's To-Do List:
  • Pick up Josh from football practice
  • Bring Emma to piano lessons
  • Stop at the store to buy more school notebooks
  • Attend a parent volunteer meeting
  • Help children with homework
  • Make dinner???
School is back in session and families are on the go! Having time to prepare an evening meal may seem like an impossible task. However, taking a few minutes now, will make it easier to fit healthy and tasty meals into your family's busy schedule.

Step One: Plan

Writing a week's menu is a great help for busy families. It allows family members to shop ahead of time to ensure the foods needed are in the kitchen at mealtime. It helps prevents the frustration of "what are we going to have for dinner tonight."

One way to start planning a menu is to write a list of foods your family likes to eat. Take a few minutes and ask family members what foods they would like included on the list. Use your list to complete the Meal Planning Guide (PDF).

Step Two: Shop

Using your menu planning sheet, make a shopping list. Having a shopping list (and sticking to it) will save you time in the grocery store and prevent extra trips to the grocery store for one or two items.

Step Three: Prepare

Look at your weekly menu and see what items you can prepare ahead of time. For example, if you need browned ground beef for several meals during the week, brown it all at once and put the extra in the freezer for later in the week. You can also cut enough fresh vegetables to last a few days. Because recipes such as soup, lasagna, and casseroles freeze well, make a double recipe. Enjoy one recipe now and freeze the other recipe for when it is on your menu again.

Helpful Tips

  • Keep ingredients in your pantry for your favorite quick meals such spaghetti, stir-fry, or tuna salad sandwiches.
  • Use instant rice to save time.
  • Try the recipes for Make Your Own Casserole or Make Your Own Pasta (PDF). These recipes help you to mix and match the ingredients you have in your pantry and refrigerator to make a casserole or salad.
  • Save your weekly menus. You can use them again as is or make revisions.
  • Remember meal preparation doesn't need to be the responsibility of just one person. Involve other family members in planning, shopping, preparing and cleaning up after a meal.

Goals for this Month (choose one or more)

  • Have each family member write down five entrees and side dishes they enjoy.
  • Make a one week menu
  • Make a list of your family's favorite quick meals. Keep the ingredients for these foods in your pantry/refrigerator so you can have a "meal in minutes" when needed.
What are your favorite quick meal ideas? Please share in the comment section.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Keeping Food Safe in an Emergency

A blizzard or loss of power from weather-related causes could put the safety of food in your home at risk. Learn the "ABCDs" of emergency food safety to reduce possible food loss and the risk of foodborne illness.

ABCDs of Keeping Food Safe in an Emergency
  • Always keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated at or below 40°F and frozen food at or below 0°F. When the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. This will maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if the door stays closed. A full freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours if the door stays closed (24 hours if it's half full).
  • Be prepared for an emergency by having items on hand that don't require refrigeration and can be eaten cold.
  • Consider what you can do ahead of time to store your food safely in an emergency. Coolers are a great help for keeping food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours. Have a couple on hand along with frozen gel packs. When your freezer is not full, keep items close together. This helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Digital, dial, or instant-read food thermometers and appliance thermometers will help you know if the food is at safe temperatures.
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