Archive for the ‘nutrition’ Category

Spaghetti Squash Supper

September 19th, 2012

Serves: 4


  • 1 2-3 pound spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 16-ounce jar spaghetti sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese


  1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon.
  2. Place halves, cut side down, in a microwavable casserole dish. Add the water. Cover dish with plastic wrap, leaving corners uncovered. Microwave on high 15 minutes until squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. While squash cooks, heat spaghetti sauce in saucepan over medium heat. When heated through, remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
  4. Remove squash from microwave and cool for 5 minutes. Remove plastic wrap.
  5. Using a fork, scrape the inside of the squash into long strings and place in a bowl.
  6. Add heated spaghetti sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Optional: Add 1/2 pound cooked lean ground beef or ground turkey.

Nutrient information per serving
Without ground beef: 223 calories, 8 g total fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 657 mg sodium, 38 g total carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 5 g protein.
With ground beef: 373 calories, 19 g total fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 696 mg sodium, 38 g total

food preparation, nutrition, recipe ,

Back-to-school Nutrition

September 10th, 2012

Nutrition plays an important role in assuring your child has a successful school year. Many children do not eat breakfast every day; others grab a soda and high-fat, high sugar pastry—definitely not a “breakfast of champions” relative to cost or nutrition. breakfast

Studies have shown that those who eat a morning meal perform better in school;

  • they have higher test scores,
  • higher attendance,
  • less tardiness,
  • better concentration,
  • and more muscle coordination.

Also, children who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight.

If your child doesn’t like traditional breakfast foods, don’t worry—breakfast can be most any food, even a slice of pizza. If your child claims not to be hungry, offer 100 percent juice and toast. If the school has a midmorning snack time, pack healthy snacks like yogurt, cheese stick, or bagel.  Remember to use an ice pack and insulated lunch bag to keep foods at a safe temperature.

As for lunch, school meal regulations are new this year and have improved the nutritional quality of lunch. School meals have always supplied one-third of a child’s nutrition needs; however, tighter regulations mean lower fat and sodium limits and a greater variety of fruits and vegetables (including fresh). If you choose to pack your child’s lunch, let your child help plan and prepare the lunch. Include meals that are easy to prepare and fun to eat as well as nutritious. A few examples are sandwiches, raw veggies, crackers, string cheese, whole fruit, and yogurt.

food preparation, healthy living, nutrition ,

Tracking Sodium Intake for Heart Health

February 7th, 2012

salt shakerFebruary is Heart Month and one aspect of healthy eating for the heart is limiting salt and sodium intake. Salt plays a role in high blood pressure, which affects about one in three American adults. Everyone, including children, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Adults age 51 and older, African Americans of any age, and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, should further reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day.

One easy way to track sodium intake (and so much more) is the new, free, online tool, SuperTracker, released December 2011 by the USDA. Foods eaten are entered and compared to a general nutritional recommendation (based on 2,000 calories per day) or can be personalized for the user. To personalize, the user enters his or her age, gender, weight, height and physical activity level; this generates personalized nutrition and physical activity recommendations for that user.

Super TrackerFive goals can be set in the categories of:

  1. Weight management
  2. Physical activity
  3. Calories
  4. Food groups
  5. Nutrients

For example, a goal of consuming 1,500 mg of sodium per day can be set by someone with high blood pressure. Weekly coaching messages related to goals are generated to help people move in the right direction. SuperTracker is a tool that can help users see what they are really eating, how much activity they are really getting, and help them set goals and track progress to improve their health.

healthy living, nutrition ,

Natural vs. Added Sugar

October 19th, 2011

SugarThere is a lot of confusion about sugar and its health implications. The main thing to remember is the body does not know the difference between natural or added sugar. Sugar found in fruits and milk products is considered natural sugar and is labeled fructose (fruit) and lactose (milk). Natural sugars are generally found in nutrient-rich foods that contain other health promoting nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins, or minerals.

Added sugars are generally found in nutrient-poor foods that do not contain other health promoting nutrients, including sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, dairy, and desserts and candy. Added sugars are those added during processing and include high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, glucose, sucrose, white and brown sugar, raw sugar, malt sugar, invert sugar, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, molasses, and honey.

To avoid excess calories MyPyramid/MyPlate and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting foods with added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men per day; the current intake is 22-30 teaspoons.

healthy living, nutrition ,

Vegetarian Diet: Getting the Most Nutrition

October 19th, 2011

October is Vegetarian Awareness month. 

A well-planned vegetarian diet can meet the needs of people of all ages, including children, teenagers, and adults. It starts with the menu and ends with enjoying tasty foods. MyPyramid and MyPlate are helpful tools for a healthy diet, whether or not it is vegetarian.

People following vegetarian diets may do so for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason, people can obtain all the nutrients they need from a vegetarian diet. However, they must be careful to eat a wide array of foods to meet their nutritional needs, paying close attention to protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12.

There are three main types of vegetarian diets:
1. Vegan: excludes all meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products, and any foods that contain these products.
2. Lacto: excludes meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products are allowed.
3. Lacto-ovo: excludes meat, fish, and poultry, but allows eggs and dairy products. It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. For more information on eating healthy, visit

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Sack Lunch – Safe at Room Temperature

October 13th, 2011

Great lunch ideas when you do not have refrigerator access:

  • Peanut butter sandwiches (check the label because some peanut butters may require refrigeration)
  • Popcorn (great whole grain addition to your food intake)
  • Bread, crackers, bagels (choose whole grains)
  • Fresh fruit with the peel on
  • Unopened single-serving containers of fruit, fruit juice, and shelf-stable pudding
  • Dried fruits
  • Nuts (combine fruits, nuts, and cereal for a healthy granola)
  • Cookies, cereal bars

food safety, nutrition , ,

Break for Breakfast!

August 16th, 2011

Stores are advertising school supplies, new clothes, and shoes. It must be back-to-school time! To ensure your kids have a successful school year, start kids out with a healthy breakfast.

Research shows that many of us believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet more than half of all Americans do not eat breakfast every day, according to the 2009 Food and Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food, Nutrition, and Health, conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation. Are you one of those non-breakfast eaters? If so, read on to see how this morning meal boosts brainpower.

How totally cool that breakfast fuels kids’ brains for school! Research shows that children who eat bBreakfast Timereakfast:

  • Show improvements on math, reading, and standardized test scores
  • Pay better attention and perform better on problem-solving tasks
  • Are less likely to be absent or tardy — and are more likely to behave better in school
  • Consume more important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, dietary fiber, and protein
  • Are less likely to be overweight

Adult breakfast skippers, take note — eating breakfast may help boost your brainpower,too. Remember, your kids are more likely to eat breakfast if you do, too. Eating breakfast together is even a better bonus — it helps instill more healthful eating habits in kids as they grow up.

Source: International Food Information Council Foundation, August 2010.

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It Only Takes a Few Minutes to Fuel Up

August 9th, 2011

Don’t skip breakfast to save precious morning minutes! Try these lightning fast meals that can help propel you and your kids throughout the day.

The Traditional TripletPeanut Butter Toast
Whole-grain ready-to-eat cereal and fat-free milk plus 100 percent orange juice

The Hot and Wholesome Bowl
Microwavable oatmeal with chopped apples and walnuts — made with fat-free milk instead of water for an extra punch of protein, calcium, and vitamin D

The PB & B
Whole-wheat toast topped with peanut butter and sliced bananas plus fat-free milk

The Swirl and Go
Crunchy high fiber cereal, blueberries, and sunflower seeds swirled into low-fat or fat-free vanilla yogurt

The Little Dipper
Graham crackers dipped into low-fat or fat-free fruit yogurt plus 100 percent apple juice

A Little on the Lunch Side
A turkey and low-fat Swiss sandwich on whole-wheat plus 100 percent orange juice

On a Roll
A whole-wheat tortilla wrapped around a low-fat cheese stick plus a bunch of grapes (cut grapes in half for younger children)

The Waffle Tower
A toasted frozen whole-grain waffle piled high with sliced strawberries, a dollop of low-fat or fat-free yogurt, and a sprinkling of sliced almonds

Easy as Apple Pie
A toasted whole-grain bagel half layered with apple slices and reduced fat Cheddar cheese

Something Spicy
Whole-grain cinnamon-raisin toast spread with low-fat ricotta cheese plus 100 percent orange juice

Source: International Food Information Council Foundation, Wake Up to the benefits of breakfast!

For more information about breakfast and health, visit:

fitness, nutrition, recipe ,

My Plate Message: Proportions

July 13th, 2011

My plate pictureThe USDA released the new food icon ‘MyPlate’ on June 2, 2011. The intent of the new icon is to simplify the dietary guidance included in the Dietary Guidelines 2010 and MyPyramid. MyPlate is not intended to replace MyPyramid, but rather simplify the message making it easier to follow for Americans.

The key message of MyPlate is the proportion each food group should contribute to your plate.

  1. The icon conveys that half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, with vegetables comprising slightly more than the fruits.
  2. The other half of the plate consists of grains and proteins, with grains comprising slightly more than the protein.
  3. Dairy is depicted as a circle (e.g., glass of milk) off to the side of the plate.

While the proportion of food groups on your plate is fairly straightforward, there are
some key messages not represented by the icon that Americans need to keep in mind.

Balance Calories

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Make at least half of your grains whole grains.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce

  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Each of these messages remains consistent with messages from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 and MyPyramid. The real benefit of MyPlate is the simple, concise message of proportionality on your plate.

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Eggs Provide ‘Egg’cellent Nutrition

June 30th, 2011

Egg in shellIt was once believed that limiting your egg intake was an important step in eating a heart healthy diet. After all, one egg yolk provides 215 milligrams of cholesterol (recommended intake is less than 300 milligrams daily). This myth is slowly being dispelled, however, with the release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Supported by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, the guidelines are a set of recommendations based on current scientific evidence. They are intended to promote health, lower the risk of chronic disease, and decrease the incidence of overweight and obesity through better nutrition practices and physical activity. The 2010 guidelines state there is no evidence to suggest that eating one egg daily increases blood cholesterol or the risk of heart disease in healthy people. Eggs are an inexpensive, but excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

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