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After School Snacks Your Kids Will Love

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.

When you don’t have a kitchen, microwave or fridge, there are still healthy food options to make meals that are delicious.  Start with shopping for shelf-stable foods that you love to eat.  You can stock up on bread, nut butters, jelly, oatmeal, dried fruit, almonds, apples, pears, avocados, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and salt.  Citrus fruits hang on for several days at room temperature.  Look for packaged goods that are neither too pricy nor too unhealthful, like wholegrain crackers or granola.

Even foods that don’t need refrigeration won’t last forever, though.  Don’t be tempted to stock up on ingredients to last more than two weeks.  Rather, shop as you need or crave.  “Buy” smaller quantities at the dining hall or supermarket bulk bin.

Find a large box or basket, maybe with a lid, and call it your kitchen cabinet. Keep all your food and equipment there so bread never goes moldy. Keep most of your equipment in here too.

A collection of sealable baggies, plastic wrap, and binder clips will help to keep packages closed, and make food last longer. For prepping and eating, get two sets of silverware, two plates, a roll of paper towels, a cutting board, a can opener, and a small, sharp knife. For cleanup, a plastic tub, a sponge, and soap should do. If you want to cook with heat, consider getting a rice cooker, electric pressure cooker, toaster oven, or electric water kettle.

When it comes to meals, think assemble, don’t cook.  Classic no-cook meals start at sandwiches (canned tuna is shelf-stable before opening, and you can find hummus and cheese in one-time-use packets), progress through bean salads (canned beans, olive oil, and lemon, plus an herb or spice) and top out at gazpacho (made with tomato juice, chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions) or overnight oats (combine water and oatmeal the night before; in the morning, bulk up your bowl with nut butters, dried fruit, and honey).

For snacking think outside the prepackaged energy bars or chips.  Season half a pitted avocado with lemon juice and salt for a healthy but filling afternoon snack. Combine pretzels, cheese crackers, and peanuts for your own snack mix. Top individual nori slices with Sriracha. Mash up oats, honey, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and salt until you have a cookie-dough-like consistency you can roll into energy balls.

Whether you don’t want to turn on the oven, have a temporary living situation or are a student living in a dorm, there are endless options to no – cook meals.

Healthy eating is important at every age. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy or fortified soy alternatives. When deciding what to eat or drink, choose options that are full of nutrients and limited in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Start with these tips:

  • Enjoy meals with friends or family members as often as possible. Take advantage of technology to enjoy meals virtually with loved ones in different cities or States.
  • You may not always feel thirsty when your body needs fluids, and that’s why it’s important to drink beverages throughout the day. Enjoy coffee and tea if you like, or some water, milk, or 100% juice.
  • Limiting salt is important as you get older. Fresh and dried herbs and spices, such as basil, oregano, and parsley, add flavor without the salt.
  • Older adults need plenty of nutrients but fewer calories, so it’s important to make every bite count. Foods that are full of vitamins and minerals are the best way to get what you need.

Adults aged 65 and older are more likely to be hospitalized or die from foodborne illness. This increased risk of foodborne illness is because organs and body systems go through changes as people age:

  • The body’s immune response to disease grows weaker.
  • The gastrointestinal tract holds onto food for a longer period of time, allowing bacteria to grow.
  • The liver and kidneys may not properly rid the body of foreign bacteria and toxins.
  • The stomach may not produce enough acid. The acidity helps to reduce the number of bacteria in our intestinal tract.
  • Underlying chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cancer, may also increase a person’s risk of foodborne illness.

We recommend making safe food handling a lifelong commitment to minimize your risk of foodborne illness. Be aware that as you age, your immunity to infection is naturally weakened. If you are 65 or older, or prepare food for someone who is, always follow the four steps:

  • Clean: Wash hands, utensils and surfaces often. Germs can spread and survive in many places.
  • Separate: Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods, so keep them separate.
  • Cook: Food is safely cooked only when the internal temperature is high enough to kill germs that can make you sick.
  • Chill: Refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. If the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (32°C) (like a hot car or picnic), refrigerate it within 1 hour.

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!

To get the most for your dollar, follow these tips to buy budget-friendly and healthy options from each food group and in each aisle of your favorite food store.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Find fruits and vegetables in the produce section, frozen foods, and in the canned and pantry food aisles. Compare prices to find the best buys.

  • Buy “in season” produce which often costs less and is at peak flavor. Buy only what you can use before it spoils. For more info check out the Seasonal Produce Guide from SNAP-Ed Connection.
  • Choose fruits canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low-sodium” or “no salt added” on the label. These products are just as nutritious and fresh, and often cost less.
  • If you have the freezer space, stock up on frozen vegetables without added sauces or butter. Frozen vegetables are as good for you as fresh and may cost less.
  • Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables last much longer then fresh. They can be a quick way to add fruits and vegetables to your meal.

Find grains in many areas of the store, including the bread, cereal, snack, and pasta and rice aisles.

  • Make half your grains whole grains. Types of whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, whole oats, and whole rye.
  • While shopping, check ingredient lists and pick the items that have a whole grain listed first.
  • Rice and pasta are budget-friendly grain options.
  • Choose hot cereals like plain oatmeal or whole-grain dry cereal.
  • Try new whole-grain snack ideas, like switching to whole-wheat crackers or popping your own popcorn.

Find protein foods throughout the entire store. They can be found in the fresh meat section, frozen foods section, dairy section, and canned and pantry food aisles.

  • Some low-cost protein foods include beans, peas, and lentils such as kidney beans, lima beans, split peas, and garbanzo beans (chickpeas).
  • Beans, peas, and lentils cost less than a similar amount of other protein foods.
  • To lower meat costs, buy the family-sized or value pack and freeze what you don’t use.
  • Choose lean meats like chicken or turkey. When choosing ground beef, make sure it’s lean (at least 93% lean/fat-free) ground beef.
  • Seafood doesn’t have to cost a lot. Try buying canned tuna, salmon, or sardines. These items store well and are a low-cost option.
  • Don’t forget about eggs! They’re a great low-cost option that’s easy to make.

Find dairy foods in the refrigerated and pantry aisles.

  • Choose low-fat or fat-free milk. These have just as much calcium, but fewer calories than whole and 2% milk.
  • Buy the larger size of low-fat plain yogurt instead of single flavored yogurt. Then add your own flavors by mixing in fruits.
  • Choose cheese products with “reduced fat,” or “low-fat” on the label.
  • Check the sell-by date to make sure you’re buying the freshest products.

Drink water instead of sodas or other high-sugar drinks. Water is easy on your wallet and has zero calories. Take a reusable water bottle is when on the go.

Save time, money, and calories by skipping the chip and cookie aisles. Choose the checkout lane without the candy shelves, especially if you have kids with you.

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.

Fruits and vegetables can be found all year long fresh, frozen, or even canned.  However, when produce is in season, it tastes so much better and can be easier on your wallet.  Seasonal produce in your area will vary by growing conditions and weather, so check out a local farmer’s market to find produce grown in your area.

  • Buy “in season” produce which often costs less and is at peak flavor. Buy only what you can use before it spoils. For more info check out the Seasonal Produce Guide from SNAP-Ed Connection.
  • Choose fruits canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low-sodium” or “no salt added” on the label. These products are just as nutritious and fresh, and often cost less.
  • If you have the freezer space, stock up on frozen vegetables without added sauces or butter. Frozen vegetables are as good for you as fresh and may cost less.
  • Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables last much longer then fresh. They can be a quick way to add fruits and vegetables to your meal.

Try some of these recipes to incorporate seasonal produce into your weekly meal planning or take to your next summer meal:

Avocado Breakfast Bruschetta

Start your day with a breakfast twist on classic bruschetta: avocados, tomato, hard-boiled egg, and ricotta with basil atop toasted rustic whole-grain bread.

Avocado Breakfast Bruschetta

Spicy Carrots and Squash

This side dish is an excellent way to get your orange vegetables. Vinegar, brown sugar, and spicy mustard combine to give this dish a sweet and tangy taste. 

Spicy Carrots and Squash

Pineapple Zucchini Cake

Stuffed with fruits and veggies, this hearty cake can be shared after a light lunch or dinner.

Pineapple Zucchini Cake

Grilled Shrimp with Cantaloupe Avocado Salsa

Savory sweet salsa featuring cantaloupe and avocado is the perfect complement to grilled shrimp. Grilled Shrimp Cantaloupe Avocado-Salsa

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.

If your child is like many preschoolers, he or she probably doesn’t eat enough vegetables each day. Many children this age can be “choosy” eaters. It can take children 10 or more tries before they like a new food. Keep trying. Your efforts will help your child have healthier eating habits later.

Offering Vegetables Can:

  • Help your child get important nutrients like potassium, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.
  • Provide dietary fiber to help your child feel full. This makes bathroom time easier, too.
  • Add color, crunch, and favor to meals or snacks.
  • Help your child develop healthy eating habits that may reduce the risk of certain diseases, like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, later in life.

Fresh, Frozen, and Canned Vegetables Are All Smart Choices

  • Packages with added sauces or seasonings may have additional fat and calories.
  • Rinse canned beans and vegetables with cold water to reduce sodium.
  • Cut vegetables into smaller pieces to make them easier for your preschooler to eat.

Five Ways To Encourage Vegetables

  1. Eat together. Let your child see you enjoying vegetables at meals and snacks.
  2. Prepare together. Teach your child how to tear lettuce or add vegetable toppings to pizza.
  3. Get colorful. Choose different colors of vegetables to eat.
  4. Make vegetables fun. Read about them in books. Plant a seed and watch it grow.
  5. Share the adventure. Shop for vegetables together. Try a new vegetable each week.

Did you know that an estimated 1 in 6 Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year alone? Food poisoning not only sends 128,000 Americans to the hospital each year—it can also cause long-term health problems. You can help keep your family safe from food poisoning at home by following these four simple steps: clean, separatecook and, chill.

Clean: Wash Hands, Utensils, and Surfaces Often

Germs that can make you sick can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your food, hands, utensils, cutting boards, and countertops.

Wash your hands the right way:

  • Use plain soap and water—skip the antibacterial soap—and scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse hands, then dry with a clean towel.
  • Wash your hands often.

Wash surfaces and utensils after each use:

  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water, especially after they’ve held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • Wash dish cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

Wash fruits and vegetables, but not meat, poultry, or eggs:

  • Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water without soap, bleach, or commercial produce washes.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables before peeling, removing skin, or cutting away any damaged or bruised areas.
  • Scrub firm produce like melons or cucumbers with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry produce with a paper towel or clean cloth towel.
  • Don’t wash meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood to avoid spreading harmful germs around your kitchen.
  • Produce labeled as “pre-washed” does not need to be washed again.

Separate: Don’t Cross Contaminate

Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs:

  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce or other foods that won’t be cooked before they’re eaten, and another for raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Replace them when they are worn.
  • Use separate plates and utensils for cooked and raw foods.
  • Use hot, soapy water to thoroughly wash plates, utensils, and cutting boards that touched raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or flour.

Cook to the Right Temperature

Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature is high enough to kill germs that can make you sick:

  • Use a food thermometer to be sure your food is safe. When you think your food is done, place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food, making sure not to touch bone, fat, or gristle.
  • Refer to our Minimum Cooking Temperatures Chart to be sure your foods have reached a safe temperature.

Keep food hot (140˚F or above) after cooking:

If you’re not serving food right after cooking, keep it out of the temperature danger zone (between 40°F -140°F) where germs grow rapidly by using a heat source like a chafing dish, warming tray, or slow cooker.

Microwave food thoroughly (165˚F or above):

  • Read package directions for cooking and follow them exactly to make sure food is thoroughly cooked.
  • If the food label says, “Let stand for x minutes after cooking,” follow the directions — letting microwaved food sit for a few minutes allows food to cook thoroughly as colder areas absorb heat from hotter areas.
  • Stir food in the middle of heating. Follow package directions for commercially prepared frozen food; some are not designed to be stirred while heating.

Chill: Refrigerate and Freeze Food Properly

Refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours:

  • Bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest between 40°F and 140°F.
  • Your refrigerator should be set to 40°F or below and your freezer to 0°F or below. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure.
  • Never leave perishable foods out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours. If the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (like a hot car or summer picnic), refrigerate it within 1 hour.
  • Leftovers should be placed in shallow containers and refrigerated promptly to allow quick cooling.
  • Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. The safest way to thaw or marinate meat, poultry, and seafood is in the refrigerator.
  • Freezing does not destroy harmful germs, but it does keep food safe until you can cook it.

Seasonal Produce

Fruits and vegetables can be found all year long fresh, frozen, or even canned.  However, when produce is in season, it tastes so much better and can be easier on your wallet.  Seasonal produce in your area will vary by growing conditions and weather, so check out a local farmer’s market to find produce grown in your area.

Eating fruit has many health benefits.  People who eat fruits and vegetables as part of an overall diet may lower their risk for certain diseases.  Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients needed to maintain your health and body.

Try some of these recipes to incorporate seasonal produce into your weekly meal planning or take to your next summer meal:

Salsa Fresca

A great summer treat to make when our garden is bursting with tomatoes and jalapeño peppers. Enjoy over eggs, meat, fish, tofu, or with whole grain chips.

https://www.myplate.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/salsa-fresca

Asparagus with Gremolata Sauce

Asparagus has folate, fiber, as well as vitamins A, C, E, and K. It also has antioxidants, so treat yourself to this dish knowing that you are feeding your body with some important nutrients.

https://www.myplate.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/asparagus-gremolata-sauce

Celery with Apricot Blue Cheese Spread

Crunchy, sweet celery is a versatile snack food, just right for this flavorful spread. Filled with dried fruit and nuts, this enticing and quick low-fat spread can be made ahead or on the spot. You could also serve it on whole grain crackers as an appetizer.

https://www.myplate.gov/recipes/myplate-cnpp/celery-apricot-blue-cheese-spread

Apple & Chicken Salad

A deliciously balanced blend of crisp Cameo apples, celery, raisins, chicken breast and Greek yogurt-based dressing, served over a bed of lettuce.

https://www.myplate.gov/recipes/myplate-cnpp/apple-chicken-salad

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.

Whether you are cooking for just yourself, one to two people, or a larger group, planning meals is a good place to start improving your food choices. Taking the time to plan a healthy evening meal can help you avoid a less healthful “drive-through” dinner.

The foods you enjoy are likely the ones you eat the most, so take note when planning your nutritious and satisfying meals.

Once you’ve planned your meals, make a grocery list. Take some time on your visit to the grocery store to choose lower-calorie ingredients. Here are some ideas that may help:

  • Many casseroles and meat sauces use cream soups as a base. Use a low-fat cream soup.
  • Substitute a low-fat cheese in casseroles and vegetable sauces.
  • Try a non-stick cooking spray or a small amount of cooking oil for sautéing instead of frying with solid fat.
  • If you’re using ground beef for tacos or meat sauce for spaghetti, look for a lower-fat variety such as ground round or ground sirloin or try using skinless ground turkey breast. Once you’ve browned the meat, drain to remove excess fat.
  • Instead of full-fat versions of mayonnaises, butter, and salad dressings, try those that are lower in calories, total fat, saturated fat, and trans-fat.
  • Check out the frozen food aisles for quick, low-calorie vegetable side dishes. You can find cut green beans, sliced carrots, and other chopped vegetables in the frozen food section. Avoid the ones with added cream, butter, or cheese sauces as these ingredients can add calories. You can steam these vegetables quickly in the microwave.
  • In some soups and entrees, you may also be able to add dry beans to extend the recipe and improve the nutritional value. This is easy to do in vegetable-based soups and chili. You can just add a cup of canned white beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans to the recipe. As another example, if you are making enchiladas, rinse a can of black beans and add these to the ground meat.

It’s National Nutrition Month and while eating a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables gives many health benefits, it’s also important to select and prepare them safely.

Fruits and vegetables add nutrients to your diet that help protect you from heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Also, choosing vegetables, fruits, and nuts over high-calorie foods can help you manage your weight.

Sometimes, raw fruits and vegetables contain harmful germs that can make you and your family sick, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. CDC estimates that germs on fresh produce cause a large percentage of foodborne illnesses in the United States.

The safest produce to eat is cooked; the next safest is washed. You can enjoy uncooked fruits and vegetables by taking the following steps to reduce your risk of foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning.

When you are at the store follow these simple tips when choosing produce:

  • Choose produce that isn’t bruised or damaged.
  • If you buy pre-cut fruits and vegetables choose items that are refrigerated or kept on ice.
  • Separate fruits and vegetables from raw meat, poultry, and seafood in your shopping cart and in your grocery bags.

 Once you are at home:

  • Wash your hands, kitchen utensils, and food preparation surfaces, including chopping boards and countertops, before and after preparing fruits and vegetables.
  • Clean fruits and vegetables before eating, cutting, or cooking, unless the package says the contents have been washed.
    • Wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under running water—even if you do not plan to eat the peel. Germs on the peel or skin can get inside fruits and vegetables when you cut them.
    • Washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, or commercial produce wash is not recommended. Do not use bleach solutions or other disinfecting products on fruits and vegetables.
    • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
    • Dry fruit or vegetables with a clean paper towel.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate from raw foods that come from animals, such as meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Refrigerate fruits and vegetables within 2 hours after you cut, peel, or cook them (or 1 hour if exposed to temperatures above 90°, like a hot car or picnic). Chill them at 40°F or colder in a clean container.

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.

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.

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