Lunch provides the midday boost that you and your child need for afternoon brainpower. Packing lunch with your child is also a great way to stay connected. What if your child is a choosy eater? This can be a sign your child is searching for more independence. Your child might benefit from packing their own lunch, while you have the opportunity to serve as a model for good nutrition behaviors. Use the five main food groups for you and your child to pack your lunch.
Put bananas, yogurt, and greens in the blender. Blend until smooth.
Add berries to blender. Blend until smooth.
Add milk to blender. Blend until smooth.
Serve immediately or freeze in individual servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 90 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 20g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 1g sugar, 4g protein This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu
In the summer, eating several small healthy snacks throughout the day is often more comfortable than having bigger meals. Choose nutritious snacks that give you energy as well as help you with focus and memory. Healthy snacking especially benefits these three groups of people:
Older adults tend to prefer to eat light meals or snacks instead of bigger breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals. Choosing nutritious snacks helps maintain their ability to live independently. Snacks high in protein and antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, help the immune system to recover from illness and aids in wound healing.
Children need the calories and nutrients from snacks to get energy for summertime play and sports. Snacks nourish their growing bodies and minds. In the fall, snacks will help kids feel full so they can focus on academics. Read Snacks for Healthy Kids, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/4605, for more information.
Pregnant women have varied appetites, depending on the woman and stage of pregnancy. Snacks can provide quick, easy nutrition for both mother and baby. Smaller snacks rather than larger meals may help reduce the nausea or heartburn some women have during pregnancy.
Here are some easy, healthy snacks:
Fruits and vegetables
Whole-grain crackers and cereal
Low-fat cheese, Greek yogurt
Hard-boiled eggs, unsalted nuts or peanuts
Want a cool summer snack? Enjoy a smoothie!
Do you know a child who needs healthy food this summer?
Check out the Summer Food Service Program meal sites in Iowa, educateiowa.gov/pk-12/nutrition-programs/summer-food-service-program#Summer_Meal_Sites. 211, www.unitedwaydm.org/211, is a one-stop source of information for people looking for help. This phone and online referral service can help people find food, housing, clothing, and much more.
March is National Nutrition Month, a campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year’s theme is Eat Right, Bite by Bite.
The first “bite” is knowing portion sizes. Use common items to help guide your portion sizes:
Baseball or fist = 1 cup salad greens or cereal
Deck of cards = 3 ounces of meat, fish, or poultry
Four stacked dice = 1 1/2 ounces of cheese
One die = 1 teaspoon of margarine or spread
Ping pong ball = 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
Do you like to bake breads, muffins, or cookies? Another “bite” to consider is increasing your whole grain intake. Simply substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour. Start by substituting one-fourth of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, then one-half, three-fourths, and possibly all!
Another “bite” to consider? Replace some or all of the oil in breads, muffins, or cookies with fruit canned in 100% juice. This will help limit fat intake. Pureed fruit, like applesauce, works best. Use the same approach as the whole wheat flour—start by substituting one-fourth of the oil with fruit and work up to one-half or three-fourths.
Small changes do have a positive effect on your health, and every little “bite” is a step in the right direction!
We Americans are eating more avocados than we did a generation ago. In 1985, the average American ate only 1 pound a year. Now it’s more than 7.5 pounds!
Why do we love avocados? It’s not because avocados are cheap. The average price of a Hass avocado reached $2.10
Avocados are a luxury that is actually good for us.
Avocados are rich, creamy, and high in fat. However, this fat is mostly monounsaturated—so, heart healthy! People who eat avocados every day can raise their HDL (good) cholesterol and lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Avocado-eaters get 20 vitamins and minerals in one fruit! They also get the nutrients that most Americans need more of—magnesium, potassium, and vitamins K and E.
Avocados have many phytochemicals. These help protect our cells from damage. In fact, eating avocados may keep your eyes healthy and lower your cancer risk.
Talk about versatile! You can use avocados in dips, sandwiches, and salads. They can make smoothies creamy. You can even use them instead of butter on toast.
Vitamin D is not just for your bones! It’s also important for the health of your nerves, muscles, and immune system. Research suggests it can even help combat depression. Many Iowans have difficulty maintaining adequate vitamin D levels in the winter months, 40–75% of us being deficient.
It is recommended those up to the age of 70 years consume 600 International Units (IU) and those over the age of 70 consume 800 IU of vitamin D. We get vitamin D three ways: through our diet, our skin, and supplements. Yes, vitamin D is so important your body makes it with a little help from the sun!
In order to reach therapeutic levels described by research requires a supplement. You should always speak with your health care provider before taking any supplements. Eating vitamin D-rich foods during the winter months is especially important. Try these vitamin D-rich foods:
Fatty fish (e.g., tuna, wild salmon, sardines canned in oil; canned fish is just as good as fresh or frozen)
What we eat affects the health of our eyes. Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in the antioxidants lutein (pronounced loo-teen) and zeaxanthin (pronounced zee-uh-zan-thin). The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) found that lutein and zeaxanthin, lowered the risk of developing age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) by about 25%.
AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in older adulthood. It affects nearly 10 million Americans. Both lutein and zeaxanthin are stored in the macula of the human eye. They help filter light and protect and maintain healthy eye cells
Since the body does not naturally make the lutein and zeaxanthin, it’s important that our diets provide it. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids, the substances that give fruits and vegetables their deep green, yellow, and orange colors. Thus eating a variety of dark green, yellow and orange foods will help. Try to include these lutein-rich foods in your daily meal plans:
Grocery shoppers tend to avoid fruits and vegetables that have odd shapes or unappealing spots. As a result, many tons of edible food go uneaten and wasted.
Although it’s true that bacteria can cause blemishes on produce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that blemished produce is unsafe to eat. “Ugly” fruits and vegetables are usually tasty and healthful. They provide the same—in some cases, more—nutrients as their more attractive cousins.
Several studies have shown some imperfect fruit and vegetables have higher amounts of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant chemicals that give produce its color and flavor. Phytochemicals may also protect us from cancer and heart disease.
So go ahead and eat ugly produce! It usually costs less because of its appearance. The nutrients it gives you, though, are priceless to your health.
If you read Nutrition Facts labels, you may have noticed they now list the potassium content of foods. So why is potassium a mineral we need to pay attention to?
For starters, potassium controls your heartbeat, builds muscle, and helps your body make proteins. Potassium can protect you from heart disease, stroke, muscle wasting, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. If you get enough of it, you can lower your blood pressure and cut your risk of dying from all causes by 20%!
Potassium is in many common foods, such as bananas, citrus fruits, potatoes, broccoli, milk, yogurt, beans, and leafy greens. However, fewer than 2% of adults meet their daily recommended potassium requirement. Adults should aim for 4,700 mg of potassium a day.
For example, this is one potassium-rich meal that would fulfill 40% of that requirement:
1/2 cup Swiss chard
1 baked potato
3 ounces turkey breast
1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup fruit cocktail
Please do not rush out to buy potassium pills. High-dose potassium supplements can disrupt heart rhythm. They are also dangerous for those who have undetected kidney disease. Enjoy your potassium by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables!
To find out more about potassium-rich foods, visit MedlinePlus (medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002413.htm)