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!


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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Happy National Nutrition Month!

This month is all about making small changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle, one forkful at a time.  Eating as a family is a great place to start.  Recent studies have found that regular family meals provide a variety of health benefits, including improved nutrient intake and a decreased risk of obesity, but finding time to prepare them can seem daunting.  Several organizations have developed resources to help families eat well together.  Celebrate National Nutrition Month by trying one!

Download sample menus and free recipe booklets from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s list of family meal ideas.

Make mealtimes fun with free nutrition games developed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  They are easy to print and include games and puzzles for adults and kids.

Spice up dinner with a new dish.  As a volunteer field editor for Taste of Home magazine, I received a copy of their new One Hundred Family Meals cookbook to review.  The book is filled with tips on making meals special, conversation starters and planning ideas.  Lightened dishes are labelled (“Eat Smart”) as are those that are quick to make (“Fast Fix”).  There’s even a place to jot down favorite meals.  Recently, I have been working my way through the No-Fuss Salads chapters.  With delicious options like Garden Tomato and Michigan Cherry Salads, there is sure to be a favorite for everyone at the table, and many more great ideas are available for free on their website.


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Healthy Heart Resources for Educators

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the American Heart Association has provided great tips on reducing sodium with printable handouts, mini-posters and infographs that are perfect for sharing.  Their eye-catching colors make them great for bulletin boards, too!  Find them online, along with many other resources, at the American Heart Association’s website here.

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Festive Appetizers


VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

Festive Mango Guacamole

‘Tis the season for celebrations with friends and family, and guests with food allergies can

leave a conscientious host or hostess scrambling to find finding festive appetizers and snacks that are safe for everyone.  Here are a few last minute ideas that are sure to please.

Apple butter dip:  Combine 1 cup of apple butter with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar (can increase, depending on your taste).  Serve with dried apple chips for dipping or cinnamon-sugar pita chips, if no one is allergic to wheat.  Serves about 12.

Chunky Mango Guacamole: A few small tweaks to this recipe from Taste of Home make a safe guacamole for guests allergic to onions and tomatoes.  Omit the tomatoes and onion.  Add 3 chopped radishes for a festive splash of red and ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper.  Serve with rice crackers or chips.  Serves about 12.

Dairy-Free Slow Cooker Hot Cocoa:  In a medium sized slow cooker, combine 4 ½ cups of water, ¼ cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons of dairy-free chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 dash of salt and ½ cup of granulated sugar.  Cook on low 2 hours, stirring every ½ hour.  Switch to keep warm setting to keep hot chocolate warm through the evening.  Serve with mini marshmallows and crushed candy canes as desired.  Makes about 6-7 servings.

As a volunteer Field Editor for Taste of Home magazine, I was sent a free Fillables Mini Loaf pan to try and review.  Using the pan, it was easy to make customized mini cakes by adding a variety of fillings.  For an allergy-friendly twist, I used a favorite allergy-friendly, pound cake recipe.  A cherry filling with a layer of coconut sorbet made a festive finish.  The individual size is also ideal for portion control. Clean-up took a few minutes, since each small pan had to be scrubbed, but otherwise, it was an easy way to make a fancy dessert.

Fillables Cherry Pound Cake with Coconut Sorbet

Fillables Cherry Pound Cake with Coconut Sorbet

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