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Physical Activity

Engaging in regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.  Regular physical activity can help with mental health and prevention or managing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and several types of cancer. And, even better, you can get immediate benefits from physical activity such as better sleep and improvements in mood and energy.

The physical activity recommendations are for all ages. Among the demands of work or family responsibilities, dedicating time to exercise can seem overwhelming. However, breaking it down into manageable segments of at least 30 minutes per day over five days can make it more achievable. As an alternative, spreading physical activities throughout the day or doing whatever is possible is also beneficial, as some level of physical activity can be better than none at all.

For people with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, be sure to ask your doctor about the right type and amount of physical activity before getting started. For healthy individuals, incorporating moderate and vigorous activities can provide the most health benefits.

Ideas for moderate-intensity physical activities 

  • Brisk walking
  • Riding a bike
  • Cleaning heavy (vacuuming, carpet cleaning, mopping)
  • Playing at the park with your kids
  • Gardening
  • Dancing

Ideas for vigorous-intensity physical activities

  • Running
  • Jumping rope
  • Climbing stairs
  • Heavy yardwork
  • Hiking
  • Sports (soccer, basketball, tennis)

To find more ideas for physical activity and information, please visit here.

This issue was written by Ana M Nunez Zepeda, NDTR.

As we age, prioritizing our health becomes more crucial than ever. One source of well-being is maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet. Navigating the world of healthy eating can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially for older adults. With a few practical tips and tricks, achieving and sustaining a healthy diet can be both manageable and enjoyable.

  1. Understanding nutrient dense foods:
    As we age, our bodies may require fewer calories, but the need for essential nutrients remains the same. Focus on incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your meals such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats.
  2. Choose from whole foods:
    Processed and packaged foods often contain high levels of sodium, added sugars, and unhealthy fats. Choose foods that are in their natural state or minimally processed, as they are naturally lower in additives and provide more nutritional benefits.
  3. Plan and prepare meals:
    Planning and preparing meals in advance can help with making healthier choices and avoid relying on convenience or fast foods that are high in calories and unhealthy ingredients. Set aside time each week to plan meals, create a shopping list, and prepare ingredients in advance to simplify cooking during the week.
  4. Experiment with flavorful herbs and spices:
    Using fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro, and rosemary, along with spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger, can elevate the taste of your meals. Incorporating these flavorful additions can be beneficial in reducing intake of sodium and sugar in the diet.

Incorporating these tips and tricks into a daily routine can support health and nourish the body. Small changes can lead to significant improvements in overall well-being. For more information about healthy eating patterns, visit  https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/.

        This issue was written by Hans Weding, RDN, LDN.

        Americans spend billions of dollars each year on nutritional supplements and weight loss products. Many of these are not necessary nor effective. Some are even dangerous. Unfortunately, false claims and misleading information posted on social media may contribute to their popularity. As you scroll through content on the Internet, consider these “warning signs” that what you are reading may not be entirely truthful:

        Warning sign 1: Promise of quick or dramatic results

        A serious or chronic illness can rarely be cured in a short time. Studies show that eating healthy and being physically active help prevent chronic disease. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

        Warning sign 2: Personal stories

        The positive experiences of a few people do not provide strong evidence about the safety or effectiveness of a product for others. This requires scientific studies conducted by experts who are objective. For evidenced-based nutrition information, visit www.myplate.gov.

        Warning sign 3:  Promotions by health professionals

        Credentialed health professionals typically do not sell or endorse specific brands of dietary supplements and weight loss products. Their role is to provide accurate and relevant information so that patients can make decisions that match their personal goals and priorities.

        In case of doubt, ask the advice of your family’s health care provider or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). They can help you decide if it would be of benefit. For additional resources on identifying nutrition misinformation and fraud, visit the USDA and FDA websites.

        Whether your kids are in daycare, preschool or elementary school, most will come home at the end of the day hungry and thirsty. Late afternoon snacks can tide them over until dinner and provide the nutrients and energy needed to support their growth. Here are a few of our favorite healthy go-to snacks for kids that are yummy, quick, and easy.

        1. Banana Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. No one will know these cookies don’t have any added sugar! Instead, they have banana and whole grain oats which pack lots of flavor and nutrition. We recommend serving these cookies with a cold glass of fat-free or low-fat milk.
        2. Apple sandwiches. You can make this recipe a variety of ways. Try different nut butters such as peanut, almond or sunflower seed butter and different dried fruit such as cherries or blueberries. Another way to enjoy apples is our Apple Spice drink recipe. It’s one of our most popular recipes that is easy to make and delicious.
        3. Bugs on a log. This is a twist on the classic “ants on a log”. Kids (and parents) can create their own combinations of ingredients for a fun snack activity. Be creative with your “logs”, “spread” and “bugs”. Experiment with different fruits, spreads and toppings. Let kids make their own. This snack tastes great with a cold glass of refreshing water.

        More healthy snack recipes can be found at MyPlate Kitchen. MyPlate has tasty, quick and low-cost recipes that can spice up your kitchen.

        Food and drinks are the third largest expense for most households, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Without sacrificing taste or nutrition, the Rethink Your Drink team has some suggestions to help your family save money. Keep reading to learn more.

        Choose tap water: Water that comes from the faucet is best for your wallet and the environment. Drinking tap water costs only a few cents per day compared to a few dollars for bottled water. These savings can add up to hundreds of dollars over the year! Tap water is typically safe and must be tested at least once each year. To help your family choose tap water more often:

        • Keep a covered pitcher of water in the refrigerator
        • Buy reusable containers that can be refilled at school or when you leave home
        • Serve your family water with meals and snacks.

        Choose conventional milk: Organic milk can cost over twice the amount as conventional (non-organic) milk at the grocery store. The term ‘organic’ refers to the way food is produced, but both have the same nine essential nutrients. Whatever option your family chooses, you can rest assured that both options are nutritious and safe.

        Choose ‘store brand’ items: When it comes to drinks, like milk or 100% juice, the store brand, or generic brand of the item is usually 15-30% lower in price compared to a recognized brand name. Often times, generic brands have the same ingredients. Some are even produced at the same location as the brand name item. Over time, buying these generic items can add up to big savings!

        Make drinks at home:  Nevada Rethink Your Drink recipes, available for FREE on our website, feature sugar-free recipes using seasonal fruits, vegetables, and herbs to naturally flavor water or milk. Many of these costs only a few cents/serving. Download or pick up your recipe cards at a grocery store near you today.

        The holidays are filled with family, parties, traditions and lots of yummy, festive food. But research shows that most adults usually gain some sort of weight over the holiday season. But don’t despair — this year can be different! It’s possible to make smart, healthy decisions while still enjoying yourself. Temptations are everywhere, and travel disrupts daily routines. What’s more, it all goes on for weeks.  You won’t be able to control what food you’re served, and you’re going to see other people eating tempting treats.  Head into the holiday with a plan!

        Healthy Holiday Eating Tips that can help:

        • Invited to a party?  Offer to bring a healthy dish along.
        • When you face a holiday buffet, try to make healthy choices, like having a small plate of food.
        • Start with vegetables to take the edge off your appetite.
        • Avoid or limit alcohol. Try sparkling water instead.
        • No food is on the naughty list.  Choose the dishes you really love and can’t get any other time of the year.
        • Be active!  It can help make up for eating more than usual and reduce stress during this time of year.  Have family or friends take a walk after a holiday meal.

        Remember, get right back to healthy eating at your next meal.  The season is about celebrating and connecting with people you care about.  When you focus more on the fun, it’s easier to focus less on food.

        If better health is the gift you want to give yourself this holiday season, try these tips to add more movement to your day and healthy foods to your plate. Even a few minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity can deliver some health benefits and count toward reaching the recommendations. For adults, the many benefits of physical activity include reduced short-term feelings of anxiety and better sleep.

        Here are some tips for staying active during the holidays:

        • When shopping, walk a few quick laps around the shopping center before going into any stores.
        • Take the stairs at every opportunity. Look for stairs in parking garages, offices, and shopping centers. If you can’t climb the stairs all the way to where you’re going, take the elevator part of the way then take the stairs the rest of the way.
        • Skip the search for a close parking spot during your errands. Park farther away and walk briskly to your destination.
        • When friends and family gather, go for a group walk. You can make the walk more fun by turning it into a scavenger hunt. Or play an active group game in your yard or local park.
        • Bundle up and take a walk instead of a drive to see holiday lights.

        Here are some ideas for shifting the focus away from food during the holiday season.

        • Volunteer in your community; it might turn into an activity you enjoy year-round.
        • Try a seasonal activity such as ice skating or winter hiking.
        • Make a “walk and talk” date with a friend or family member. Skip the blended coffee drink and explore an area that is new.
        • Visit that museum or exhibit you’ve been wanting to see.

        Consider what new healthy traditions you can start this year. The possibilities are endless!

        A disability may make it harder to stay active, but there are still many ways to be physically active. There are also many reasons why being physically active is important if you have a disability.

        Physical activity helps with flexibility, mobility, and coordination. Getting regular physical activity can also help you stay independent by preventing health problems, such as heart disease, that can make it harder for you to take care of yourself.

        Benefits of physical activity for a person with disabilities includes:

        • Helping lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes
        • Helping improve your endurance and muscle strength, including toning muscles you may use less often because of your disability
        • Reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression
        • Reducing the joint swelling and pain of arthritis

        A person with disabilities should try to get the same amount of physical activity as all adults. That means getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and two or more days each week of muscle-strengthening activities. Get more information and see a list of exercises to try based on your abilities: Disability/Condition : Articles : NCHPAD – Building Healthy Inclusive Communities Before you start, talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or exercise specialist about how you can modify physical activity to accommodate your disability.

        Physical activity is important for all women throughout their lives. Read on for ways you can change your physical activity routine to fit your needs based on your age, stage of life, or physical abilities. Any physical activity is better than no physical activity. The Physical Activity Guidelines can help you plan how much physical activity to do each week. Learn ways to get started and talk to your doctor or nurse about how to fit physical activity into your life.

        Carrying extra weight can make moving around much more difficult. Start slowly by moving more around your home. Try doing stretches or lifting weights while watching TV. You can lift cans of food, jugs of water, or other household items as weights.

        Walking in a safe place near where you live is a great way to begin getting more exercise or physical activity for women of any age or shape. You don’t need special clothes or sports equipment, just comfortable walking shoes. Start with 10-minute walks at a comfortable pace (you can still breathe normally and talk while walking) at least three days a week. Add more minutes of walking and increase how fast you walk as your body gets used to the activity.

        Here are some tips to get you started:

        • Get moving at home. You don’t have to leave your house to be active. Try a free on-demand workout video, a free online workout video, or a DVD from your local library.
        • Choose activities like swimming or riding a stationary bike if your feet or joints hurt when you stand. These activities put less stress on your joints because your legs are not supporting the weight of your body. Ask your doctor or nurse for help in coming up with a physical activity plan that is right for you.
        • Physical activity does not have to be hard or boring to be good for you. Anything that gets you moving — even for only a few minutes a day — is a great start. Being physically active on a regular basis can make a big difference in your health.

        Grocery costs can add up. But there are lots of little things you can do to save money while still making healthy meals that your family will love.

        Before You Shop. Plan your meals and how you’ll use leftovers. Planning and cooking meals is much easier if your pantry is stocked well. Keep favorite spices, and canned and frozen vegetables handy to help make last minute meals. Making a list before you go to the store will make shopping easier—and help with your budget. 

        Save More with Coupons. There are manufacturer coupons and store coupons. Common places to get them:

        • Inserts from the Sunday newspaper
        • Printable online coupons
        • In-store coupons—look for weekly circulars and flyers at the store.
        • Catalina coupons—these are the coupons that print from the register and usually have items you like to buy.
        • Tear-aways—many stores have coupons by customer service area to give you more savings.
        • eCoupons—join store reward programs. They often offer specials coupons you can get in an email, store app or on the store rewards card.
        • If you have a smartphone, search for your favorite store’s app. You can receive coupons, make a shopping list, and look for weekly specials. From finding coupons to using them, everything you need to know.

        While You Shop. Try to eat before you go to the store. You are likely to buy more food than you need when you are hungry.  While at the store try a few of these tricks:

        • Produce that is prepared is usually more expensive. Stick to produce that hasn’t already been washed and chopped for the best price.
        • Buy blocks of cheese instead of grated.
        • Buy large bags of frozen vegetables.
        • Buy full heads of lettuce or spinach. Avoid pre-bagged salad mixes. Uncut fresh vegetables will last longer and can cost less than bagged salad mixes.
        • Buy fresh fruits in season when they often cost less. Farmers markets will also have fruit that is in season.
        • Buy regular brown rice and oatmeal. Instant rice and oatmeal cost more and have more sugar and calories.

        Grow Your Own Food. Planting a vegetable garden can be fun and good exercise. It’s also a great way to have fresh, healthy food for less money—seed packets cost only a few dollars. And kids are more likely to try new vegetables if they help grow them.  You don’t need a lot of room or even a yard to grow your own food. Many vegetables can be grown on a patio in pots. Herbs are a great place to start.Keep Food Fresh. The right storage can help keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer. Freezing food can also save you money if you store it correctly.

        Often the morning is a rushed time to get the family fed and kids off to school.  Everyone needs a nutritious meal to start their day and have a productive morning.  Healthy habits can help children concentrate, feel better about themselves, and lower their future risk of diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

        Try some of these recipes to start your day.  Make ahead of time and eat through the week or whip up quickly:

        Broccoli-Cheddar Frittata

        This egg dish provides a quarter cup serving of vegetables during breakfast and uses reduced-fat cheddar cheese and non-fat milk to limit fat. Prep and cook in about 30 minutes makes this recipe an easy breakfast for both the weekday or the weekend.

        Broccoli-Cheddar Frittata | MyPlate

        Crunchy Berry Parfait

        This parfait is a favorite among kids and adults alike. Use soy yogurt instead of regular yogurt for those who can’t have dairy.

        Crunchy Berry Parfait | MyPlate

        Fruit Smoothie

        Have fun experimenting with different fruit and juices in this scrumptious smoothie.

        Fruit Smoothie | MyPlate

        Fruit Pizza To Go

        Toasted whole wheat English muffins topped with fat-free cream cheese and fruit make this a quick and easy breakfast or snack.

        Fruit Pizza To Go | MyPlate

        Quesadilla con Huevos

        Tortillas, eggs, cheese, and salsa can be enjoyed at any meal. Enjoy this main dish with a salad and a piece of fruit for a well balanced lunch.

        Quesadilla con Huevos | MyPlate

        Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

        These bars make a great on the go snack to satisfy a sweet tooth. Trying adding pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, or chopped nuts to add a little extra crunch.

        Peanut Butter Cereal Bars | MyPlate

        During the month of May, National Physical Fitness & Sports Month provides an opportunity to celebrate and promote physical activity and the benefits of sports participation. 

        Physical activity is key to maintaining health and well-being. Getting active can improve fitness and reduce stress, reduce risk for many chronic diseases, and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Youth sports can help kids and teens get active and develop leadership, time management, and relationship-building skills.

        You know kids need physical activity to grow up strong and healthy.  But did you know it can help them feel better right away?  And when your kids are feeling good, your life is easier too.  So find ways to help your kids fit more activity into their day.

        How much do they need?

        Kids and teens ages 6 to 17 need at least 60 minutes every day.  Most of it can be moderate-intensity aerobic activity.  Anything that gets their heart beating faster counts.  At least 3 days a week, encourage your kids to step it up to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.  Use the “talk test” to find out if the exercise is moderate or vigorous.  If you’re breathing hard but can still have a conversation easily, it’s moderate-intensity activity.  If you can only say a few words before you have to take a breath it’s vigorous-intensity activity.

        As part of their daily 60 minutes, kids and teens also need Muscle-Strengthening and Bone Strengthening activities.  Anything that makes their muscles work harder counts, like climbing, swinging, running, jumping or other weight-bearing activities.

        It all adds up.  Help them get active now, and they’ll build healthy habits for life.  So, take the first step.  Get your kids moving and when you can, move with them!

        In today’s busy world, Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories from foods prepared away from home. In general, these foods provide more calories, sodium, and saturated fat than meals consumed at home. For the average adult, eating one meal away from home each week translates to roughly 2 extra pounds each year. Over the course of 5 years, that’s 10 extra pounds.

        Calorie labeling on menus can help you make informed and healthful decisions about meals and snacks. As of May 7, 2018, calories must be listed on many menus and menu boards of restaurants and other food establishments that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations. This helps you consider your options and makes it easier to eat healthy when eating out.

        Restaurants that are required to provide calorie information on menus and menu boards are also required to provide written nutrition information on menu items, including total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars, and protein.

        Here are steps for making dining out choices that are healthy and delicious:

        • Determine your calorie needs
        • Look for calorie and nutrition information
        • Make the best choice for you

        Look for Calorie and Nutrition Information

        You may have noticed calorie information on some menus or maybe you have seen nutrition information on restaurant websites or on phone apps. This information can help you make informed and healthful meal and snack choices.

        Where will I see the calories listed?

        Calories are listed next to the name or price of the food or beverage on menus and menu boards, including drive-thru windows, and may be found at the following types of businesses:

        • Chain restaurants
        • Chain coffee shops
        • Bakeries
        • Ice cream shops
        • Self-service food locations, such as buffets and salad bars
        • Movie theaters
        • Amusement parks
        • Grocery/convenience stores

        Where will I NOT see calorie information?

        • Foods sold at deli counters and typically intended for further preparation
        • Foods purchased in bulk in grocery stores, such as loaves of bread from the bakery section
        • Bottles of liquor displayed behind a bar
        • Food in transportation vehicles, such as food trucks, airplanes, and trains
        • Food on menus in elementary, middle, and high schools that are part of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program
        • Restaurants and other establishments that are not part of a chain of 20 or more

        So, the next time you go out to eat, compare calorie information before you order, then make the choice that’s right for you.

        Snacks don’t need to be unhealthy. There are plenty of healthy snack options that give your school-aged kids important nutrients and help satisfy hunger between meals.

        Try these healthy snack ideas:

        • Combine fruits and veggies with dairy or proteins
        • Make “ants on a log” (celery with peanut butter and raisins)
        • Add fruit (fresh, frozen, dried, or canned) to fat-free or low-fat yogurt — look for canned, dried, and frozen fruit with no added sugars
        • Blend fruit and yogurt with a small amount of 100% fruit juice to make a tasty smoothie — try soy yogurt with added calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D for a non-dairy option
        • Dip vegetable “matchsticks” (thin sticks made from fresh carrots, zucchini, or bell peppers) in hummus (a dip made from chickpeas)
        • Top apple slices with nut butter — or try them on their own
        • Keep fresh fruit in a place that’s easy to reach in the refrigerator or on the kitchen table — this will make it easier for kids to grab a healthy choice

        Combine whole grains with dairy or proteins:

        • Top whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese
        • Top whole-wheat bread or rice cakes with nut butter
        • Melt low-fat cheese in a whole-wheat tortilla to make quesadillas — try adding black beans for an extra boost of nutrition
        • Mix air-popped popcorn with dried fruit and unsalted nuts for homemade trail mix and serve with a glass of fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk
        • Make a mini pizza — top half of a whole-wheat English muffin with spaghetti sauce, chopped vegetables, and low-fat shredded cheese and heat it up in the microwave or oven

        Snack healthy on the go.

        • Take unsalted nuts and unsweetened dried fruits
        • Grab fresh vegetables or fresh fruit
        • Pack low-fat string cheese sticks
        • Use small reusable containers or baggies to take snacks on the go

        Set the rules.

        • Teach younger kids to ask before they help themselves to snacks
        • Eat snacks at the table or in the kitchen, not in front of the TV or computer
        • Serve snacks like pretzels or popcorn in a bowl — try not to let kids snack directly out of the bag or box
        • Serve water or fat-free or low-fat milk instead of soda or fruit-flavored drinks
        • Most of the time, serve whole fruit instead of juice — when you do serve juice, make sure it’s 100% fruit juice and give kids no more than half a cup per day

        Did you know that the Heart-Check mark makes it easy to spot heart-healthy foods in the grocery store or when dining out? When you see it, you can be confident that a product aligns with the American Heart Association’s recommendations for an overall healthy eating pattern.  Making small, simple changes to your overall eating pattern can help you and your family stay healthy. Learn the basics of good nutrition and making healthy food and drink choices.

        Check for the Heart-Check Mark

        The Heart-Check mark is a simple tool to help you Eat Smart.  When you see it, you can be confident that a product aligns with the American Heart Association’s recommendations for an overall healthy eating pattern.

        Download a PDF of Check for the Heart-Check Mark Infographic

        When you cook at home you have more control over ingredients and portion sizes, so aim to cook at home more often than eating out. When you prepare and cook meals at home,

        1) you’re in control of what you and your family are eating

        2) you can get inventive and inspired with your culinary creations

        3) you save money.

        You don’t have to be an experienced cook to prepare something everyone will love. Anyone can learn to cook healthy – yes, even you.  Brush up your skills with our videos and how-to articles, or take a cooking class with friends. Check out these Heart Healthy Recipes that you can make at home:  https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/company-collaboration/heart-check-certification/heart-check-certified-recipes

        It can be hard to make changes to your lifestyle, but it is so important. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

        The good news is there’s a lot you can do to lower your risk of heart disease. When you choose healthy behaviors, you can lower your heart disease risk while also preventing other serious chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and some kinds of cancer.

        Learn Your Health History

        Your family history affects your risk for heart disease. Know your risks and talk to your family and doctor about your health history.

        Eat a Healthy Diet

        Make healthy food choices to include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Eat less salt, saturated fat, and added sugar.  A heart-healthy diet includes foods that are low in saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium (salt).

        Heart-healthy items include high-fiber foods (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) and certain fats (like the fats in olive oil and fish). 

        Move More, Sit Less

        Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, plus muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days a week.  If you’re just getting started, take it slow! Try fitting a quick walk into your day. Even 5 minutes has real health benefits — and you can build up to more activity over time.

        Choose Your Drinks Wisely

        Substitute water for sugary drinks to reduce calories. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation by limiting consumption to no more than 1 drink for women and 2 for men on days that alcohol is consumed. If you are pregnant, don’t drink any alcohol.

        Involving children during meal preparation is a great way to spend time with children, to create memories, to model positive behavior, to teach about food and meal preparation, and to encourage children to eat the food being prepared.

        • Ideal setting for family communication.
        • Delegating mealtime tasks is a great way to combine work with family fun.
        • Saves time and provides an opportunity to interact.
        • Meal preparation and clean-up teach important life skills.
        • It may help family members enjoy dinner if you allow them to be in charge of one meal per week.

        Use the Create Family Mealtime Children Involvement Chart handout Microsoft Word – Meal Planning book insert.docx (usu.edu) to find ways you may have never considered to include your family.

        Children can help you make a list of meals they like, come up with fruits and vegetables to put on the side of the main courses you show them, and look at MyPlate diagram to come up with one meal that follows the diagram.  This will help you learn foods they are interested in and teach them the importance of meal planning.

        If your children are older, have them put their social media skills to work to search for new recipes and if they can drive, maybe complete a small shopping trip.  They will learn what it takes to be in charge of a meal and develop grocery shopping and money management skills.

        Eating healthy and sticking to your budget is possible! It starts with a plan. Set your family up for success by planning meals and snacks in a way that works for your family, your budget and your schedule. The tools below allow you to look at what you’re spending now and how you can make small changes that add up to big savings.

        To know your monthly food budget, you can look back to how much you have spent on food in the past. You will probably adjust the amount budgeted for food over the next few months as you incorporate menu planning and smart shopping. Chances are you will realize you can get by on less food money than you previously spent and still have more food in the house.

        • Remember to include all SNAP benefits and WIC vouchers in your budget, and factor in food you may get for free from your garden or a friend’s garden or food pantry.

        If you shop once a week, divide your monthly food dollars into four portions, one for each week. If most of the shopping is done once per month, make sure to budget part of the food dollars for items you will need to purchase later in the month.

        Possible budgeting methods:

        • Put cash in envelopes, one for each week. Once the cash is gone, the grocery budget is gone.
        • Keep track of the total food budget and subtract from it every time you go to the store. Once the total reaches zero, the grocery budget is spent.
        • Think of sticking to the food budget as a form of insurance against being hungry at the end of the month. It takes some self-control not to spend the entire budget at the beginning of the month, but it is definitely worth making it last.
        • Involve children tip: have your children use a calculator in the store to help stay within the budget.

        Don’t worry if you’re thinking, “How can I get the recommended amount of physical activity each week?” Understanding common barriers to physical activity and creating strategies to overcome them may help you make physical activity part of your daily life.

        To make sure you’ll stick with it, pick physical activities that you enjoy and match your abilities.

        • Identify available time slots. Monitor your daily activities for one week. Identify at least five 30-minute time slots you could use for physical activity.
        • Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example, walk or ride your bike to work or shopping, organize school activities around physical activity, walk the dog, take the stairs, exercise while you watch TV, park farther away from your destination, etc.
        • Select activities, such as walking, jogging, or stair climbing that you can do based on the time that you have available (e.g., 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes).
        • Invite friends and family members to exercise with you. Plan social activities involving exercise.
        • Develop new friendships with physically active people. Join a gym or group, such as the YMCA or a hiking club.
        • Convince yourself that if you give it a chance, physical activity will increase your energy level; then, try it.
        • Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule and write it on your calendar.

        The next time you go grocery shopping, read the nutrition labels on the items in your cart to see which ones have the most added sugars. You may be surprised to see the amount of added sugars in some drinks.

        Sugary drinks are the leading source of added sugars in the American diet. These sweetened liquids include regular soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened waters. The flavored coffees we grab on the way to work and sweet drinks we order when eating out also count as sugary drinks. Adding sugar and flavored creamer to coffee and tea at home counts, too.

        Tricks to Rethink Your Drink

        • Choose water (tap or unsweetened, bottled, or sparkling) over sugary drinks.
        • Need more flavor? Add berries or slices of lime, lemon, or cucumber to water.
        • Missing fizzy drinks? Add a splash of 100% juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.
        • Need help breaking the habit? Don’t stock up on sugary drinks. Instead, keep a jug or bottles of cold water in the fridge.
        • Water just won’t do? Reach for drinks that contain important nutrients such as low fat or fat free milk; unsweetened, fortified milk alternatives; or 100% fruit or vegetable juice first. (NOTE: Before infants are 12 months old, do not give fruit or vegetable juice. Juice after 12 months old is not necessary, but 4 ounces or less a day of 100% juice can be provided.)
        • At the coffee shop? Skip the flavored syrups or whipped cream. Ask for a drink with low fat or fat free milk, an unsweetened milk alternative such as soy or almond, or get back to basics with black coffee.
        • At the store? Read the Nutrition Facts label to choose drinks that are low in calories, added sugars, and saturated fat.
        • On the go? Carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day.

        Remember that you can be a role model for your friends and family by choosing water and other healthy, low-calorie beverages.

        Making healthy food choices along with regular physical activity will help fuel your baby’s growth and keep you healthy during pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding.  Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products are healthy choices. Include a variety of protein foods such as seafood, lean meats, poultry, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and eggs. Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.

        Eating seafood during pregnancy may benefit your baby’s growth and is a healthy protein source for you during both pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Choose options lower in methylmercury, like cod, salmon, tilapia, or herring. Learn more at FDA’s Advice About Eating Fish:  https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish

        You and your unborn child are more susceptible to the effects of foodborne illnesses. Take special care to keep foods safe and to avoid certain foods that increase your risk.

        When making food and beverage choices, unless you are advised by your healthcare provider, you do not need to restrict your choices during pregnancy or while breastfeeding to prevent food allergies from developing in your child.

        In addition to eating a healthy diet, your doctor may recommend a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement to help make sure you get enough to meet your needs. After pregnancy, your need for some vitamins and minerals may decrease. Your doctor may recommend switching from a prenatal to a multivitamin supplement during breastfeeding.

        Calorie needs will likely be different during pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding. Get your MyPlate Plan (https://www.myplate.gov/myplate-plan) to learn how many calories you may need. With all the information that is on the internet, from friends or family, remember to work closely with your healthcare provider to determine the right amount of calories for you, based on a variety of factors.  For more information visit: https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/maternal-diet.html

        We know that physical activity has great health benefits for our children. But did you know that children who are more physically active have better academic performance, memory, and attention? It’s true! They are more focused, stay on task, have better recall and short-term memory.

        However, being physically active means more than just “running around” and “playing outside.” Yes, running, jumping and swimming often called cardio-respiratory activities or “cardio” are important for the heart. However, activities that focus on perceptual motor development and fundamental movement skills are also important. While, both cardio and motor skill activities improve overall brain function, they activate children’s brains differently, so we need each of these to plan and make decisions from simple to most complex. 

        What are Fundamental Movement Skills?

        Fundamental movement skills are a specific set of skills that involve using different parts of the child’s body and form the “building blocks” for more complex and specialized skills they will need throughout their lives. Many of these fundamental movement skills are specified in state pre-kindergarten standards and describe what children should be able to do before they start kindergarten. Examples include hop on one foot, spin on one foot, step forward and back, and balance on one foot for 5 seconds.

        What Is Perceptual Motor Development?

        Unlike fundamental movement skills that form the building blocks for movement, such as hopping, jumping, running or balance, perceptual motor development connects a children’s perceptual or sensory skills (the brain) to their motor skills (the body) so they can perform a variety of movements and confidently interact with their environment. Developing perceptual motor skills involves teaching children movements related to time (e.g. moving fast vs slow), direction (moving forward, back or to the side) and spatial awareness (e.g. crossing their arm from the right side of the body to the left or tapping their heel to the ground).

        Physical activity can affect how we learn, remember, problem-solve, and pay attention.  Cardio activities that increase the heart rate and breathing such as walking, running, dancing, skipping and jumping, have been shown to increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain and improve brain function. 

        In order to perform a variety of movements, children need to have opportunities to perform fundamental movement skills such as hopping on one foot, spinning around and balancing as well as building perceptual motor skills that help them connect the brain to the body.

        Choosing water instead of sugary beverages or soda is a great first step to an overall healthy diet. Everyone should try to drink 8 – 12 cups (8 ounces equals 1 cup) of water every day. Just take it one day, one drink at a time.

        Here are some ways you can make the switch:

        • Make the choice easy. Keep water in your refrigerator at all times.
        • Drink water in front of family and friends – it sets a great example!
        • Flavor your water with fruits or vegetables for tasty drinks with no added sugar. To get started, try this Cucumber Mint Breeze recipe.
        • Set up spa-style water for your next meeting.
        • Chill water with lemon ice cubes.
        • Find a reusable bottle that’s easy to clean and carry.
        • Drink water with every meal and snack.
        • Drink water first thing in the morning, when you are naturally thirsty.

        Gardening gives families skills to grow their own food at home. This gives people an option to increase the fruits and vegetables that are available to them.  Kids love to grow their own fruits and veggies and in return they are more apt to try them!

        Gardening provides a good opportunity for physical activity for kids and adults. Food based gardening is a beneficial activity that leads to the economical production and consumption of healthy and fresh foods. 

        Do you have a small yard, or no yard?  No problem!  Container gardening is a great option. The key to success is planting in a big enough container- generally one 5-gallon container per vegetable plant.  Make sure you have holes in the bottom of it so that the water can drain, use a light, fluffy soil (with some compost in it!), and put it where it gets plenty of sun.  Also, containers dry out more quickly than plants in the ground, so make sure to water often!

        Vegetable plants love the sun!  In fact, they require 6-8 hours of it every day. Especially if you live in an urban area, spend a day watching how the shadows move, and make sure the spot you choose gets enough sun to make your plant happy! If you notice that nowhere in your area has enough sun, try growing herbs or lettuces, as they are more shade tolerant.  Although plants love the sun and need it to survive, in the heat of the summer, some plants, like tomatoes, may need a shade cloth over them because the sun can be overpowering.

        SNAP can be used to purchase food seeds. Seeds and plants used in gardens to produce food for human consumption are eligible foods. This includes the following items:

        • Seeds for producing edible plants and edible plants (e.g. , tomatoes and green pepper seeds or plants, and fruit trees);
        • Edible food producing roots, bushes, and bulbs (e.g., asparagus crowns and onion bulbs); and
        • Seeds and plants used to produce spices for use in cooking

        Gardening soil, fertilizer, peat moss, and other gardening supplies are NOT eligible items.

        For more information and resources about nutrition education and gardening go to the USDA Food and Nutrition Services gardening page: https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/nutrition-education/nutrition-education-materials/gardening

        Food costs are on the rise. Read on for tips on how to stretch your food dollars by planning ahead, budgeting, making smart food choices, and preparing low-cost recipes.

        Before shopping plan your weekly meals and snacks.  Preparing in advance will help you know what you need and help you put leftover to good use.  Go online to look for coupons, sales, and store specials.  Only use coupons on foods you normally eat. Make sure the coupons give you the best value for your money.  For added savings, sign up for the store discount card.

        During shopping, make sure to eat something before you go.  It’s easier to stick to your shopping list when you are not hungry.  Compare products for the best deal.  Use unit pricing and the Nutrition Facts Labels to get the best product for your money.  Also try store brands.  They are the same quality and cost less.

        After shopping, store food right away in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh and safe.  If you buy a large amount of fresh food, like meat, poultry, or fish, divide into meal-size packages, label the food and freeze it for later use.  Start using foods with the earliest expiration dates first.

         

        Tips for Best Buys for Cost and Nutrition:

        Breads and Grains:  Choose whole-grain breads.  Look for bargains on day-old varieties.  Buy regular brown rice and old-fashioned oats and grits instead of instant varieties to save money and consume less sugar, salt, and calories.

        Vegetables:  Buy large bags of frozen vegetables.  When choosing canned vegetables, look for “low sodium” or no added salt” on the label.

        Fruits: Buy fresh fruit in season, it generally costs less.  Frozen and canned fruits are available year-round, can save you money and have similar nutrition values to fresh.

        Low-fat or Fat-free milk products: Buy low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese in the largest size that can be used before spoiling. Larger containers cost less per serving than smaller sizes. Ultra-pasteurized milk found on store shelves has a longer expiration date and won’t spoil as fast.

        Meats and beans: Dried beans and peas are a good source of protein and fiber. They can last a year or more without spoiling. Canned tuna packed in water is an inexpensive healthy protein choice. Light tuna has less mercury than white (albacore) tuna.

        Microwave ovens can play an important role at mealtime, but special care must be taken when cooking or reheating meat, poultry, fish, and eggs to make sure they are prepared safely. Microwave ovens can cook unevenly and leave “cold spots,” where harmful bacteria can survive. For this reason, it is important to use the following safe microwaving tips to prevent foodborne illness.

        After reviewing all the safety tips, get Microwave Recipes here: www.myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen/recipes

         

        Tips for Microwave Oven Cooking

        Arrange food items evenly in a covered dish and add some liquid if needed. Cover the dish with a lid or plastic wrap; loosen or vent the lid or wrap to let steam escape. The moist heat that is created will help destroy harmful bacteria and ensure uniform cooking. Cooking bags also provide safe, even cooking.

        Do not cook large cuts of meat on high power (100%). Large cuts of meat should be cooked on medium power (50%) for longer periods. This allows heat to reach the center without overcooking outer areas.

        Stir or rotate food midway through the microwaving time to eliminate cold spots where harmful bacteria can survive, and for more even cooking.

        When partially cooking food in the microwave oven to finish cooking on the grill or in a conventional oven, it is important to transfer the microwaved food to the other heat source immediately. Never partially cook food and store it for later use.

        Use a food thermometer or the oven’s temperature probe to verify the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature. Cooking times may vary because ovens vary in power and efficiency. Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.

         

        Cook foods to the following safe minimum internal temperatures:

        • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
        • Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
        • Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
        • Microwaving stuffed, whole poultry is not recommended. The stuffing might not reach the temperature needed to destroy harmful bacteria. Cook stuffing separately to 165 °F.
        • Cook egg dishes and casseroles to 160 °F.
        • Reheat leftovers to 165 °F.
        • Cooking whole, stuffed poultry in a microwave oven is not recommended. The stuffing might not reach the temperature needed to destroy harmful bacteria.

        Microwave Defrosting

        Remove food from packaging before defrosting. Do not use foam trays and plastic wraps because they are not heat stable at high temperatures. Melting or warping may cause harmful chemicals to migrate into food.

        Cook meat, poultry, egg casseroles, and fish immediately after defrosting in the microwave oven because some areas of the frozen food may begin to cook during the defrosting time. Do not hold partially cooked food to use later.

        Cover foods with a lid or a microwave-safe plastic wrap to hold in moisture and provide safe, even heating.

        Heat ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs, luncheon meats, fully cooked ham, and leftovers until steaming hot.

        After reheating foods in the microwave oven, allow standing time. Then, use a clean food thermometer to check that food has reached 165 °F.

        Containers & Wraps

        Only use cookware that is specially manufactured for use in the microwave oven. Glass, ceramic containers, and all plastics should be labeled for microwave oven use.

        Plastic storage containers such as margarine tubs, take-out containers, whipped topping bowls, and other one-time use containers should not be used in microwave ovens. These containers can warp or melt, possibly causing harmful chemicals to migrate into the food.

        Microwave plastic wraps, wax paper, cooking bags, parchment paper, and white microwave-safe paper towels should be safe to use. Do not let plastic wrap touch foods during microwaving.

        Never use thin plastic storage bags, brown paper or plastic grocery bags, newspapers, or aluminum foil in the microwave oven.

        The kids are out of school for the summer.  Now what?  We know it’s important for kids to be active, but in a digital world, it can be hard to have them put down the devices.  Now is a good time to learn healthy habits, and maybe they will find an activity that they will love.  The American Heart Association recommends that kids and teens, ages 6-17 get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

        Children are naturally active. As they grow into adolescents, they tend to become less active. This is especially true for girls, who may need even more support and encouragement to stay active. Don’t be surprised or disappointed if your kids’ interests shift or they lose interest in activities they used to love. Help them find other activities they can enjoy instead of becoming inactive.

        Here are some tips that may help:

        • Be a role model for an active lifestyle. Start moving more yourself and find ways to be active together as a family.
        • Physical activity should be fun for children and adolescents. Encourage kids to keep trying activities to discover the ones they like and will stick with. Don’t use physical activity as a punishment.
        • Reduce or limit sedentary screen time, including watching television, playing video games and using a digital device. Don’t use the TV or a device as a babysitter.
        • Provide kids with opportunities to be active. Give them active toys and games, like bikes, skateboards, roller skates, scooters, jump ropes, balls and sports equipment.
        • Support their participation in sports, dance and other active recreation like swimming, biking and running. Get familiar with community facilities near you, like pools, recreation centers, bike paths and parks.
        • When safe, let them walk or bike places instead of always driving them in the car. For example, you could walk or bike to school or the bus stop together.
        • If your child is very inactive now, start slowly. Increase the amount and intensity of activity gradually each week or so. This may help them avoid discomfort or injury and adjust to a more active lifestyle without becoming discouraged.
        • Praise, rewards and encouragement help kids to stay active.

        A worksite wellness program that includes a physical activity component can help maintain a healthier workforce. A healthier workforce can benefit from reduced direct costs associated with health care expenses. The worksite wellness program also has potential to increase employees’ productivity, reduce absenteeism, and increase morale. Additionally, these programs are often seen as a central component of an attractive employee compensation and benefits package that can be used as a recruitment and retention tool to attract and keep high quality employees. Worksites can encourage physical activity through a multicomponent approach of offering management support, physical access to opportunities, policies, and social support programs.

        Regardless of size, resources, setting, and type all worksites can provide opportunities to promote physical activity for their employees.  NV Snap-ed supports worksite wellness programs to increase physical activity because of the following:

        • Only half of all American adults report meeting the physical activity guidelines.
        • Each day in the United States, more than 150 million American adults participate in the labor force.
        • With employees spending 7.6 hours a day on average at their place of employment, worksites provide a unique setting to promote practices that can significantly increase physically active employees and potentially affect the health of millions of working adults.
        • Many barriers to physical activity can be addressed by worksite physical activity programs.

        Here are some resources to get yourself active throughout the day, no matter the circumstances.

        1. 20 Essential Desk Exercises You Can Do Without Leaving Your Office or Home Workspace: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/hq_deskfit_booklet_6.10.2020.pdf
        2. CDC Workplace Health Resource Center: https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/index.html
        3. Guide to help integrate physical activity into the workday: https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/initiatives/resource-center/pdf/Workplace-Physical-Activity-Break-Guide-508.pdf
        4. Staying Active While Social Distancing:  https://health.gov/news/202004/staying-active-while-social-distancing-questions-and-answers

        Parents, guardians, and teachers can help children maintain a healthy weight by helping them develop healthy eating habits and limiting calorie-rich temptations. You also want to help children be physically active, have reduced screen time, and get adequate sleep.

        The goal for children who are overweight is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Children should NOT be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.

        Remember small changes everyday can lead to success!

        There are 5 areas to concentrate on:

        1. Develop Healthy Eating Habits

        • Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
        • Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products, including cheese and yogurt.
        • Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
        • Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
        • Limit sugary drinks.
        • Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.

        2. Limit Calorie-Rich Temptations

        • Reducing the availability of high-fat and high-sugar or salty snacks can help your children develop healthy eating habits.

        3. Help Children Stay Active

        • Reducing the availability of high-fat and high-sugar or salty snacks can help your children develop healthy eating habits.
        • Remember that children imitate adults. Start adding physical activity to your own routine and encourage your child to join you.

        4. Reduce Sedentary Time

        • Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, limit the time children watch television, play video games, or surf the web to no more than 2 hours per day.
        • Instead, encourage children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity.

        5. Ensure Adequate Sleep

        Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and be a rewarding experience. Whether you are a self-motivated individual volunteer, represent a community or employee group, or are looking for school or work-related, or court-ordered community service opportunities, NVSnap-ed partners offer many great ways to volunteer in our own communities. It’s a fun and rewarding experience, and a potentially life-changing way to tackle the ongoing hunger problem here in Nevada.

        Check out our partners and their volunteer opportunities.

        With the holidays right around the corner, enjoying a meal together is a great way to connect with your family. Sit down together for a meal when you can. Turn off the TV and put away screens and devices so you can “unplug,” interact, and focus on each other. Plan meals for the week and include the kids when cooking. Kids learn by doing. Younger ones can mix ingredients, wash produce, or set the table; while older kids can help with ingredients. Everyone can help clean up. When deciding on foods and beverages, choose options that are full of nutrients and limited in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.

        Here are some mealtime tips to help connect your family:

        • Remove distractions by turning off the TV and making a phone “parking spot” away from the table.
        • Have everyone share what they did during the day. What made you laugh or what you did for fun?
        • Try new foods at home. Kids need many opportunities to taste a new food to “get used to it.”
        • Have adults and older kids talk about the color, feel, or flavor of foods. It’ll make them sound more appealing to younger kids that may be picky.
        • On nice days, opt for a change of scenery. For example, go to a nearby park for a dinner picnic.

        As we age, healthy eating can make a difference in our health, help to improve how we feel, and encourage a sense of well-being.

        Eating habits change throughout the life span. Simple changes can help you enjoy the foods and beverages you eat and drink to meet nutrient needs, help maintain a healthy body weight, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

        The definition of healthy eating does change a little as you age. As you grow older, your metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories than before. Your body also needs more of certain nutrients. That means it’s more important than ever to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value.

        • Try adding seafood, dairy or fortified soy alternatives, along with beans, peas and lentils to your meals to help maintain muscle mass.
        • Add fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks. Look for frozen, canned, or ready-to-eat varieties if slicing and chopping is a challenge.
        • Make eating a social event. Meals are more enjoyable when you eat with others. Invite a friend to join you or take part in a potluck at least twice a week. A community center or place of worship may offer meals that are shared with others.
        • The ability to absorb vitamin B12 can decrease with age and the use of certain medications can decrease absorption. Eating enough protein and fortified foods, such as fortified cereals, can help you meet your vitamin B12 needs. Speak with your healthcare provider to determine what, if any, supplementation is right for you.
        • If you use or are considering taking dietary supplements, it’s important to track and discuss all dietary supplements with your healthcare provider to determine what is right for you.

        I started working virtually for Green Our Planet during the pandemic when all students joined Cooking Nutrition Lessons from their homes virtually. Although working with K-5 aged students is one of my favorite parts of the job, working with that age group in a virtual setting presents some hurdles. It took some adaptation to understand how to navigate the online platform and with up to 100 students per call, keeping the students engaged and facilitating discussions was definitely a challenge. Over time, I adapted. I developed strategies to overcome the obstacles, and each lesson became smoother and smoother. Still, as pandemic policies change, teaching strategies evolve, making adapting to new teaching models an integral part of my job.

        After the first few weeks or so of lessons, I was able to predict their behavior. And after the first month, I developed strategies to nip any interferences in the bud and use the virtual tools that were initially a distraction to absorb them into the lesson. For instance, to increase engagement with the students, I had them use the chatbox to share their thoughts and questions. I also called on individual students to unmute their microphones to answer questions and share their thoughts on the lesson. Once I got the virtual classroom dynamics down, hybrid teaching models rose to the surface as in-person schooling was making a comeback. 

        Over the year, students started coming back into their classrooms while some still joined the lessons from their homes. During this time, the number of students attending class in person was relatively low, so teachers could hear students and share their answers with me virtually. I would go back and forth, having students in the classroom answer questions and have students from their homes answer questions. 

        Recently, schools are now back in person. Bartlett Elementary School was the first school I taught with everyone back in the classroom. The teachers put my face up on a big screen for this lesson, projecting the lesson to multiple grade levels in a gymnasium. Unaware this would be the layout, it took some trial and error to determine what teaching strategies worked best. From previous lessons, asking questions via chat or unmuting the microphone allowed me to see how well students understood the material and allowed students to ask questions easily. However, with this new platform, with all students together in person, it was hard to engage students by my previous strategies of asking questions and receiving feedback. 

        I adapted to this lesson by having students raise their hands if they had tried a fruit or vegetable. I used more sign language (for lack of a better term) and gestures to test students’ comprehension of the lesson. I had students give me a thumbs up, half thumbs down, or thumbs down. With students being in person and having other friends and classmates, there was more room for distractions. During times of hindrance, I had my kindergarten class get up and do jumping jacks to get some energy out of their system and come back to the lesson, then relate food and physical activity to the lesson. I had students wait to ask questions towards the end of the class. I had the instructor call on students and had them come up to the screen/ microphone to ask their questions or identify their favorite part of the lecture. 

        Overall, the virtual platform continues to change and grow. It’s in learning to adapt and grow with instructors, students, and content that educators can help improve future students’ education. I am happy to be a part of the process!

        – Sierra Kuno, Nutrition Chef Program Coordinator/ SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator


        Previous Himan ES lesson with students in their homes 

        Barlette ES Lesson students back in person 

        As we transition into a routine of school, work, and the weather changing, it’s a good time to remember that we also need to move daily and make time for physical activities with our families.  Fit physical activity into your family’s schedule by starting small.  Setting too many goals is a sure way to burn out quickly.  Begin by introducing one new family activity and add more when you feel everyone is ready. Take the dog for a longer walk, play another ball game, or go to an additional exercise class.

        Here are some more tips:

        • Turn off the TV! Set a time limit on viewing TV and playing video games. Instead of a TV show, play an active family game, dance to favorite music, or go for a walk.
        • Plan ahead and track your progress. Write your activity plans on a family calendar. Let the kids help in planning the activities. Allow them to check it off after completing each activity.
        • Include work around the house. Involve the kids in yard work and other active chores around the house. Have them help you with raking, weeding, planting, or vacuuming.
        • Treat the family with fun physical activity. When it is time to celebrate as a family, do something active as a reward. Plan a trip to the zoo, park, or lake to treat the family.
        • Include other families. Invite others to join your family activities. This is a great way for you and your kids to spend time with friends while being physically active. Plan parties with active games such as bowling or an obstacle course, sign up for family programs at the YMCA, or join a recreational club.

        We are excited to announce a new collection of recipes coming to NVSNAP-Ed.org

        Physical activity is critical to the physical, cognitive, emotional and social development of every child. There are several ways to promote physical activity at home or in the classroom including dance, sports, games and free play. Some children will be naturally drawn to these activities while others find it difficult to engage. Using positive engagement strategies in fun, playful social settings are key to promoting physical activity.

        It is also important to know about strategies that are ineffective.  Most of these involve pressuring a child to do an activity or taking physical activity away as a form of punishment, both of which develop a negative experience around physical activity.
        Encourage participation using fun, motivational strategies.  Allow them to be the leader, choose the activity, or call out the commands. Withholding physical activity from children deprives them of health benefits and the opportunity to develop fundamental movement skills necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

        Teaching and practicing fundamental skills in early childhood years is the key to helping children gain confidence and skill development.  Learn more about fundamental skills: https://extension.unr.edu/healthykids/pub.aspx?PubID=2927

        We all need protein, but how much is enough? Most people, ages 9 and older, should eat 5 to 7 ounces of protein foods each day, depending on overall calorie needs.

        What counts as an ounce of protein foods? 

        • 1 ounce lean meat, poultry, or seafood
        • 1 egg
        • 1⁄4 cup cooked beans or peas
        • 1⁄2 ounce nuts or seeds
        • 1 tablespoon peanut butter

        It may seem hard to get protein in your diet, but we are here to share a few tips.

        Try mixing up your proteins throughout the week.  Add seafood, beans, nuts, seeds, soy, eggs, lean meats, and poultry to your menu.  Choose lean or low fat cuts of meat like round or sirloin and ground beef that is at least 90% lean. Trim or drain fat from meat and remove poultry skin. Next, pull out the slow cooker. Lean meats need slow, moist cooking to be tender—and delicious – and the crock pot can save you time as well as money.

        Many students across the state are starting the new school year. It’s a great time to focus on the nutrition of our children both in school and at home.  Creating healthy habits can help kids:

        • Concentrate and do better in school
        • Feel good about themselves
        • Grow and develop strong bodies
        • Lower their future risk of diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer

        You can feed your family healthy snacks in the time it takes to open a bag of chips!  When they get home from school, try a snack of carrots and peanut butter, celery and creamcheese, or a simple piece of fresh fruit. 

        Making and keeping healthy habits is always important, but during a pandemic, staying healthy is more important than ever! That’s why our partner Green Our Planet teamed up with Caesars Entertainment, SNAP-Ed, and the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to host the Get Healthy Challenge. Over the past two months, the challenge called on students across Nevada to submit short videos showcasing what they do to stay healthy.

        Green Our Planet’s programming helps students learn about health and nutrition through school gardens and indoor hydroponic gardens. They provide nutrition education to students through online video lessons and in-person nutrition lessons. Green Our Planet’s Chef Nutrition Specialists go into each school showing the students how to prepare healthy, delicious recipes using student-grown produce. Through this program, students connect to where their food comes from, learn how to make healthy recipes, and gain an understanding of the importance of eating a nutritious diet.

        By teaching students how to grow their own fresh food, Green Our Planet’s programming helps students develop healthy habits at school and at home. But they wanted to learn more about how students were staying healthy during this unique school year.

        The Get Healthy Challenge had an amazing turn out, and Green Our Planet received 115 video entries! With the help of Chef Zach Hillberry, Green Our Planet Board Member and Director of Food and Beverage at Caesars Entertainment, Green Our Planet made the very tough decision to pick the top 3 winners.

        FIRST PRIZE Skylar from Bass Elementary School

        SECOND PRIZE Wyland and Weston Gilmore from Clark Middle School and Cashman Middle School

        THIRD PRIZE Chelsie from Bass Elementary School

        From exercising and getting enough sleep to growing and eating fresh fruits and veggies at home, Nevada’s students are making lifelong habits that will keep them happy and healthy for years to come. These students are sure to continue spreading their healthy habits and will inspire their communities to get healthy, too!

        Green Our Planet will run more competitions like this in the future, so stay tuned!

        Fruits and veggies are at the core of SNAP-Ed.  It can be fun to purchase seasonal produce to try different flavors throughout the year and make seasonal flavorful dishes that your family will enjoy!  Head to the nearest farmers markets to get seasonal fruits and veggies! They cost less when they are in season and are a great way to support local farms.

        Seasonal produce in your area will vary by growing conditions and weather. Remember, fresh, frozen, canned, and dried: fruits and vegetables are a delicious way to make every bite count!

        Cook with seasonal vegetables and try these recipes:
        Bell Pepper Recipes: Recipes | MyPlate
        Tomato Recipes: Tomatoes | SNAP-Ed (usda.gov)
        Carrot Recipes:   Recipes | MyPlate

        It’s National Garden Month, and today we’re featuring a success story from Green Our Planet! Green Our Planet is one of our partnering organizations based in Las Vegas, Nevada, that brings school garden and hydroponics programs to schools across the country. Green Our Planet believes in the power of experiential learning through these school garden and hydroponics programs. A huge part of their mission is educating students about health and nutrition. Green Our Planet provides nutrition education to students through in-person demos. Green Our Planet’s Chef Nutrition Specialists go into each school showing the students how to prepare healthy, delicious recipes using student-grown produce. Through this program, students connect to where their food comes from, learn how to make healthy recipes, and gain an understanding of the importance of eating a nutritious diet.

        When COVID hit, the schools sent the students home, and the possibility of in-person nutrition lessons, along with their other in-person programming, crumbled. Rather than leaving their destiny to chance, Green Our Planet completely transformed its operational model. They took into account feedback from schools, the community’s current needs, and ideas from a cadre of teachers. The result was a fast-tracked plan to pivot their programming online. For the Chef Nutrition Team, this pivot took their program in two different directions: they began hosting Live Virtual Chef Nutrition Lessons and pre-recorded videos on the Green Our Planet Virtual Academy. Virtually hosting the Live Nutrition Lessons brought forth unforeseen benefits of the program. They began to see that the parents get to participate in the lesson because the students attend the class from home. Not only is parent involvement supporting the success of students, but the parents seem to enjoy participating as well. Another unforeseen benefit is that the students can often cook along with the Nutrition Specialist, allowing them to absorb the lesson experientially.

        Green Our Planet creates the pre-recorded lessons on The Green Our Planet Virtual Academy using their standards-aligned Health Curriculum. This online resource is the hub for all of the organization’s online lesson content. It is like a Discovery Kids channel for teachers that is open-access for parents and educators everywhere. In each nutrition video, they feature one of their Chef Nutrition Specialists cooking a meal from start to finish explaining each step and how the ingredients benefit the wellness of your mind and body. You may be wondering: if the students have been cooking from home, what has been happening to all the fruits and vegetables produced by the school gardens and hydroponics systems? Green Our Planet has been donating much of the produce to Delivering With Dignity, a nonprofit that prepares and delivers meals to people in need throughout the Las Vegas community. Now students are back in their classrooms, able to cultivate and enjoy the fruits of their school gardens and hydroponics systems once again. The Chef Nutrition Lessons that Green Our Planet provides will remain online at least until the rest of the school year. Given the program’s success this year, they will likely continue to offer their programming virtually next Fall.

        Green Our Planet programming is funded by Nevada Snap-ed.

        As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

        Older adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none. Older adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity gain some health benefits.

        If you are 65 or older you can follow the following recommendations:

        Activities could include:
        Walking or hiking
        Dancing
        Swimming
        Water aerobics
        Jogging or running
        Aerobic exercise classes
        Some forms of yoga
        Bicycle riding
        Some yard work, such as raking and pushing a lawn mower
        Tennis or basketball
        Walking as part of golf

        As we age, healthy eating can make a difference in our health, help to improve how we feel, and encourage a sense of well-being.  Eating habits change as we get older.  Simple changes can allow us to receive all the nutrients our bodies need.

        • Add sliced fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks. Look for pre-sliced varieties if slicing and chopping is a challenge.
        • Ask your doctor for other options if the medications you take affect your appetite.
        • Drink 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk throughout the day. If you cannot tolerate milk try small amounts of yogurt, buttermilk, hard cheese or lactose-free foods. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
        • Consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals.

        Use these simple tips to help make smart food choices for years to come: Healthy Eating for Older Adults | MyPlate

        It’s a great time to get outside with the family, and Nevada is full of places and lands to explore.  The Nevada outdoors provides a wonderful experience for you and your family to establish physical activity habits for an active lifestyle.  By building a foundation with regular physical activity, you can produce long term health benefits. Examples include increasing your chances of living longer, getting a better night’s sleep, improving brain function and handling physical and emotional challenges.

        Did you know you can make delicious and healthy cookies without an oven? Nutrition Chef Lisa shows us how!

        Recipe below.

        Ingredients:
        1 cup rolled oats
        1/2 cup raisins (also try mini chocolate chips)
        1/2 cup grated carrots
        1/4 cup ground flax seeds
        1/4 cup sunflower seeds (can also use chopped walnuts or almonds)
        1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
        1/4 cup maple syrup or raw honey
        1/2 cup peanut butter, almond butter (or any nut-free butter)
        1/2 tsp cinnamon

        Recipe:
        1. In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients and stir until evenly combined. The mixture should be a little sticky.
        2. Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into firmly packed balls.
        3. Store protein bites in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to a week.

        Nutrition Chef Lisa Cheplak shows us how to make a healthy and fun snack! Recipe below!

        Ingredients:
        1, 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
        1 avocado
        1 handful fresh basil
        1 lemon, zest and juice
        1 garlic clove, peeled
        1 cup spinach water (to thin out as needed)
        1 tsp salt

        Directions:
        1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender.
        2. Blend until smooth.
        3. Serve with veggie “fries” (celery, carrot, jicama, and bell pepper sticks)

        Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. But you can do a lot to protect your heart and stay healthy, not just during Heart Health Month, but all year long.

        Heart-healthy living involves understanding your risk, making choices, and taking steps to reduce your chances of getting heart disease, including coronary heart disease, the most common type. Coronary and other types of heart disease cause heart attacks, but by taking preventive measures, you can lower your risk of developing heart disease and also improve your overall health and well-being.

        Preventive Measures include: 

        -Choose Heart-Healthy Foods

        -Aim for a Healthy Weight

        -Manage Stress

        -Get Regular Physical Activity

        -Quit Smoking

        -Get Good Quality Sleep

        -Get Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Checked

        It’s the beginning of a new year, which usually comes with making healthy resolutions.  Many have been cooking at home more than ever, which is the first step to staying on budget.  Let the NV SnapEd website be your resource to find healthy recipes.  Many recipes have a short list of ingredients and be prepared quickly.  Try this 20 minute Creole Chicken or 3 Can Chili to have a hot meal on the table for your family.
        https://www.myplate.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/20-minute-chicken-creole

        https://www.myplate.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/3-can-chili

        The Nutrition Facts label has a lot of information.  It can be confusing to know what you are looking at and how to make the healthiest decision for your family.  When read properly, the Nutrition Facts label found on packaged foods and beverages is your daily tool for making informed food choices that contribute to healthy lifelong eating habits.  

        Helping your kids understand how to read the Nutrition Facts label on food packages is important. After all, the label is a tool for making food choices that they’ll be able to use throughout their lives. And the sooner they begin, the sooner they’ll be making healthful choices when comparing foods.

        1) Find the serving size and number of servings per container
        2) Check calories and calories from fat
        3) Look at the Percent (%) Daily Value for each nutrient
        4) Look at the list of ingredients

        Follow this step-by-step guide to reading the label: https://nvsnap-ed.org/eat-healthy/shop-smart/

        After being on hiatus due to COVID-19 since March, Open Air Markets are back!

        On Saturday, September 26th, Lutheran Social Services of Nevada will be holding a special Open Air Market in collaboration with Golden Ages Adult Daycare, located at 5020 Alta Drive, 89107. They will be distributing a variety of wholesome, nutritious food to anyone in need. Distribution begins at 8:00 a.m and will go until 10:00 a.m. while supplies last. No registration necessary– just come on and bring an ID!

        Lutheran Social Services of Nevada DigiMart Emergency Distributions are BACK!  If you are in need of food, visit the LSSN headquarters at 4323 Boulder Highway, 89121 between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A drive-through and standing line are available with social distancing precautions taken, and no pre registration is necessary to receive food.

        Hunger Action Month is a time when people all over America stand against hunger.  Millions of families are facing hunger – many for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Join us in thanking our hardworking food bank staff and volunteers serving on the frontlines every day to help feed and get Americans back on their feet.  Take action this month by sharing, fundraising, and volunteering.

        Learn more: https://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/hunger-action-month

        Making meals at home has become the new normal…in a great way!  Cooking at home saves money and always gives you the freedom to choose healthy recipes.  Most of these recipes have a short ingredient list, that makes meal planning and grocery shopping easy.  So let’s start cooking!

        Breakfast:  https://food.unl.edu/nep-recipes/breakfast

        Main Meals: https://www.azhealthzone.org/recipes?keywords=&category_id=1

        Side Dishes: https://cachampionsforchange.cdph.ca.gov/en/recipes/Pages/default.aspx

        Snacks:  https://foodhero.org/recipes/categories/50

        Desserts: https://eatfresh.org/recipe/filter-meal-type/desserts-1

        Taking time to plan healthy meals can help you stick to a healthy eating style and save money.  If you are new to planning meals, start with one easy tip and then add more as you get comfortable. 

        1)  Start by mapping out your meals for the week.  Be sure to include drinks and snacks.

        2)  Next, make a grocery list of ingredients using your meal plan.  This will help you not overspend at the grocery store.  Try this grocery list to keep you organized:  https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/budget/grocery_list_interactive.pdf

        3)  Choose different protein foods throughout the week. If you have chicken one day, try seafood, beans, lean meat or eggs on other days.  

        4) Try to find balance in your meals throughout the day.   If you have veggies, dairy and protein at one meal, include fruit and grains in the next to cover all 5 food groups over the course of a day. 

        Lastly, learn to love your leftovers.  When you go to so much work to prepare a meal, make sure you have extra for another meal later in the week.  This saves on time and money, which we can all get behind. 

        To learn more about meal planning on a budget visit:  https://nvsnap-ed.org/eat-healthy/shop-smart/

        School will look a little different this Fall.  Many parents are creating school desks and learning spaces in their homes, but let’s not forget about physical activity for our kids.   Physical activity is critical to the physical, cognitive, emotional and social development of every child.   Some children are drawn to physical activities naturally, while others need positive reinforcement. Take breaks in school work to get their bodies moving.  These are called ‘Brain Breaks’.  After 30 minutes of sedentary time, take a short physical break.  Simple movements like running, jumping, walking, dancing, or skipping increase blood flow and oxygen, which improves brain function.  Kids will be ready to take on their next lesson.

        Here are some fun ‘Brain Breaks’:

        Follow the Leader: https://extension.unr.edu/healthykids/pub.aspx?PubID=2933#followtheleader

        Red Light, Green Light:  https://extension.unr.edu/healthykids/pub.aspx?PubID=2933#redlightgreenlightgame

        Count My Moves:  https://extension.unr.edu/healthykids/pub.aspx?PubID=2933#countmymoves

        Treasure Hunt:  https://extension.unr.edu/healthykids/pub.aspx?PubID=2933#treasurehunt

        The holidays will be upon us soon and they will probably look different this year than any other year.  That doesn’t mean you can’t serve a healthy meal that doesn’t break the bank.  From roasted turkey, to mashed potatoes, green beans, and a pumpkin cheese pie, we have you covered.  These recipes can be prepared at home, save you money, and still create a special meal.  Try them on your family and see how delicious and thrifty they can be.

        Healthy Holiday Recipes: https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/nutrition-education/healthy-thrifty-holiday-menus

        Eating healthy and staying on budget is possible.  Start by mapping out your family’s meals for the week.  Try to include all drinks and snacks. Next, create a grocery list. A great way to save money starts with eating seasonal fruits and vegetables.  Fresh fruits and vegetables will taste better and cost less. Look at it as a challenge to try a new healthy ingredient each week and have your family join in.  It will make meal time exciting and fun!

        Check out your local farmer’s market for seasonal produce:   https://nvsnap-ed.org/eat-healthy/farmers-market/

        Discover different fruits and vegetables throughout the year using this guide: https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide

        Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy. We are lucky that the State of Nevada has many areas for people to visit parks, trails and open spaces to relieve stress, get some fresh air, and stay active. Valley of Fire State Park is just one of many parks to provide hiking opportunities and breathtaking views.

        Here are some tips to keep safe:

        1. Visit parks near your home.
        2. Check with the park before visiting to prepare safely and find out if bathroom facilities are open.
        3. Stay at least 6ft. away from people you don’t live with.
        4. Don’t visit parks if you are sick with, tested positive for COVID-19, or know you were recently exposed to COVID-19.

        While we are at home, it’s easy to be distracted by kids, tv, house chores, and of course, our phones.  Self care is important, so find some time to get your body moving!  Many apps are providing free classes during this time.  Also check out your local gyms.  Many are hosting virtual classes.  You’ll be able to break a sweat, have accountability, social interaction, and best of all, FUN!

        Here are some tips to get you started:

        1. Maintain a schedule
        2. Aim to do 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week
        3. Do strength training 2 times a week
        4. Incorporate stretches to build flexibility
        5. Warm up and cool down before and after each workout
        6. Drink water to stay hydrated
        7. Participate in a fitness challenge through an app or with friends and family

        The state of Nevada has many Emergency Food Distribution sites in response to COVID-19.  As the times are ever changing, the needs of our residents are changing. Many partnerships have been made to offer resources and distributions sites to serve our communities.
        If you need food assistance for your family, your kids, or someone you know, please click the links below.  

        Clark County:

        https://www.threesquare.org/learn/news/press/three-square-food-bank-implements-emergency-food-distribution-strategy-in-response-to-covid-19?fbclid=IwAR2ovuxMsjonBbDBAvi2KeucW99VOI8dxFHlaSi32P4rxXzmlioqu1-aXCg

        Lutheran Services of Southern Nevada DigiMart:
        DigiMart will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

        Emergency Food Boxes will be provided to anyone who comes in.  Clients are asked to bring an ID and remain 6′ apart.  This is a walk-through, farmer’s market style set-up, no car is required.

        Northern Nevada:

        https://www.fbnn.org/gethelp/

        Elko County: 

        Student Meals – https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tVaFSdNhwdI18Gvc_fDZ0rH-vMPCwJ13/view
        Food Bank/Soup Kitchen – https://fishelko.org/

        Lyon and Storey Counties:

        https://healthycomm.org/food-hub/

        Nye County:

        NCSD Food Distribution (PDF)
        Pahrump Food Pantries
        Community Resources- During Covid-19 Closures

        When times are uncertain, the best thing we can do is stay strong and active. Nevada offers plenty of outdoor space and trails to get your heart pumping.  

        If you are starting a new exercise routine, the key is to increase your activity level slowly. You need to feel comfortable doing moderate-intensity activities before you move on to more vigorous ones. Slowly replace those that take moderate effort, like brisk walking, with more strenuous exercises, like jogging.

        With many Nevadans staying home, think about other activities that could raise your heart rate, like gardening, mowing the lawn, or just having a dance party.

        Our life and dedication to our health does not have to stop. For more ideas, visit: https://gethealthyclarkcounty.org/get-moving/how-to-be-active/physical-activity-basics/

        Desert living might not make you think of fresh fruits and vegetables, but there are many farmers markets that offer you just that in Southern Nevada.  Spring is right around the corner and produce will be in abundance.  You have access to locally and regionally grown produce to help you and your family maintain a healthy lifestyle.  While visiting these markets, take the opportunity to visit with the farmers and producers to learn more about where your food comes from.

        Check out this link to find a Farmers Market near you.  Many accept SNAP benefits, debit, and credit cards: https://gethealthyclarkcounty.org/eat-better/farmers-markets/

        Click here for the Meal Site finder or visit Summer Food Rocks. Or text “summer meals” to 97779, a meal location will be sent to you. Or call 1-866-348-6479.

        Nutritious free meals are available for children and teens 18 and younger at many locations throughout the nation throughout the summer while school is out of session.

        For more information on becoming a sponsor to offer meals or volunteer please visit the Nevada Department of Agriculture.