Sizing Up Fruits and Veggies

Plates with pictures may help children select and eat more fruits and vegetables, according to new research with preschoolers.  A study of 325 children found a significant increase in vegetable consumption when a MyPlate plastic plate with pictures of foods in appropriately-sized compartments was used compared to traditional plates.  Perhaps this is an easy way to help kids visualize fruit and vegetable serving sizes as they fill their cafeteria plates this coming school year.

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Celebrate National Nutrition Month

Ready to celebrate healthy eating?  This year’s theme, “Go Further With Food,” is a great reminder of food’s important role as fuel for the body.  It’s also an opportunity to provide savvy shoppers with tips to stretch the weekly grocery budget in ways that avoid food waste.

In honor of the occasion, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has posted tip sheets, games and handouts to share on their website.  Several of the top nutrition journals are celebrating, as well, and free, downloadable copies of recent nutrition articles are available online for a limited time.  And, ChooseMyPlate.gov has launched MyPlate, MyState, a teacher-oriented site to help classes, students and families find out which foods and flavors a state is known for and how they fit into a healthy eating plan.  Happy March!

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All in a Name

Keeping up with New Year’s resolutions to eat healthfully can be challenging, and by mid-January, some of those goals already feel impossible.  If vowing to eat more veggies was on your list but has proved to be difficult for your family, try changing names.  Recent research in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that when vegetables served in a university dining hall were described using indulgent words, such as “rich” or “caramelized,” students and staff were more likely to choose and consume them compared to those  that were labeled simply with the vegetable’s name or with words like “reduced sodium.”  So, the next time vegetables are on the menu, try a new name.  You might be surprised at the results.

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Deck the Halls Healthfully

Celebrate the holiday season with a healthy table.  Fruit takes a starring role with these stunning, wholesome centerpieces.  Read more at Food and Health.

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Back-to-School at the Grocery Store

Though back-to-school shopping usually brings thoughts of new pencils and sneakers to mind, the grocery store is also important to consider!  Not only is it a regular destination for most families, but it provides the fuel that powers busy schedules all school year long.  I loved the quick and easy tips for efficient shopping textbook publisher Human Kinetics shared a few days ago, like keeping a running shopping list and organizing the list based on your store’s layout.  These are great ways ensure the ingredients for healthy meals are always on hand, even as fall schedules are busy.  Read more of their tips for efficient grocery shopping here, and have a happy fall!

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A Summer of Green

Just add sunlight, water and a little TLC to help these greens grow!

With summer in full swing, it’s a great time to enjoy all things green!  Earlier this summer, my students experienced the wonder of indoor gardening with salad greens.  In just a few weeks time, we grew a bumper crop of kale, arugula and other leafy vegetables to share.  Packed with nutrients like vitamin K and fiber, they were a hit on pizza and in salad.  Since lettuce enjoys cooler weather, it is easy to grow inside in a sunny location, and since it grows quickly,  you can anticipate enough for salads and sandwiches by the time September and the back-to-school season begins.  Want to start your own garden? Check out the resources below.

Seeds – Also, tips and supplies to get started

Recipes – Healthy lunch ideas, including delicious salads

Classroom coloring sheets – Coloring sheets and activities about fruits and veggies

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Red, White and Blueberry Bread

Blueberries and cranberries team up for a patriotic quick bread!

Ingredients

2 cups all- purpose flour

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon each cardamom and ginger

2/3 cup water

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup chopped pecans, optional

1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar

1 teaspoon red, white and blue sprinkles

Preheat oven to 325°F, and coat an 8”x4” loaf pan with sunflower oil.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  In a small bowl, stir together ¼ cup of water, vanilla, cardamom and ginger.  Stir in remaining water and oil, and stir into dry ingredients until just moistened.  Fold blueberries, cranberries and nuts into  batter.  Pour into loaf pan, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Bake 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.  Sprinkle bread with red, white and blue sprinkles while it is still warm.  Cool completely before serving.

Yield: 16 slices

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