Kick-off Summer with Healthy, Delicious Foods: Combining June Dairy Month with Area Produce

June is National Dairy Month!

As schools go on break for the summer months, we see those long-anticipated days of fun-in-the-sun arriving. What better way to welcome everyone’s favorite season than to celebrate with June Dairy Month! In the heart of America’s Dairyland, Waupaca County is home to a variety of nutritious and delicious dairy products.

Milk Please!

Whether you drink a glass with dinner or pour some over your cereal in the mornings, milk is packed full of healthy vitamins and minerals. It is the number one food source for calcium, potassium and vitamin D, which all help build strong, healthy bones. For those of us participating in swimming lessons or little league this summer, chocolate milk is packed with carbohydrates and protein to refuel the body after that workout. If you happen to stop into one of Waupaca’s WES restaurants, like Waupaca Woods or Sisters, consider ordering a cold glass of milk with your lunch or dinner! When purchasing this delicious beverage, remember to buy 1% or skim milk for the same delicious taste but less fat!

Say Cheese!!!

One of everyone’s favorite dairy products is cheese. Here in Waupaca County there are many places to stock up and celebrate Wisconsin’s role in dairy production. Did you know that Wisconsin makes more than 600 varieties of cheese? If you’re stopping by the farmer’s market, pick up some tomatoes to pair with cottage cheese, green peppers to eat with Colby or pears to complement cheddar cheese.

Yummy Yogurt!

Yogurt is becoming more popular in many households. It can be found in a wide variety of flavors and can easily be taken as an on-the-go snack. Yogurt can also be used as a replacement for butter or other fats when baking. When shopping at one of Waupaca’s WES grocery stores (Piggly Wiggly and Pick ‘n Save), buy low-fat, plain yogurt and mix your own flavors with delicious fresh produce such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, and peaches.

So enjoy dairy goodness this month and all year long and don’t forget to pick up some fresh summer fruits and veggies too!

Spring Ahead into a Healthier State

Spring fever has come full swing this year with the exceptionally cold winter days we’ve been having. So long winter vortex, it’s time to move onto brighter days, pastel colors, and lighter meal options to match the weather! We have a few tips and tricks that can help make the spring transition an easy one for the family without sacrificing much time, energy, and most importantly, taste!

Get Out!

One of the easiest ways to think spring is to start moving more. We have been cooped up far too long this winter; it is time to break free! While it may be too cold to start walking outside (although if you’re up for the challenge – bundle up and give it a go!), schools and businesses are open to walk the halls. This is only the temporary fix until spring officially hits, then it can turn into neighborhood walks or using the school track to tally laps. These little bursts of energy not only boost your physical energy, but also your mental energy and immune system. Once the warmer weather is upon us, we will need those boosts to start the warmer season in a healthy state!

 Use What Is In Season!

We are starting to enter the season where an abundant amount of fruits and vegetables are in their prime. A colorful variety of fruits and vegetables is not only visually appealing, but also provides the body with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients important for good health. Here is a quick list of the items for each group that will soon be in-season:

Fruits: Blueberries strawberries, cherries, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, watermelon, kiwi, mango, pineapple, grapes

Vegetables: Onions, potatoes, eggplant, okra, squash, lettuce, rhubarb, green beans, tomatoes, radishes, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers, corn

All of these items can be found at our “WES” approved grocery stores, Piggly Wiggly or Pick N’ Save, where you can find other healthy items to whip together a warmer weather inspired meal!

 Time to Reconnect!

Spring and summertime is filled with sporting events and grill outs that include most friends and family in the area. Start these habits early to jump ahead into warmer weather activities. If a niece, nephew, grandchild, child, or friend is playing a hockey game at the local Y, invite a group to join along! Once the game is over, bring the group over to one of our “WES” approved restaurants, such as T-Dubb’s or the Ale House for a grilled specialty that not only feels like a summer meal, but is a healthy option as well!

 While we unfortunately cannot fast forward to warmer weather, we do have the power to make it feel like spring with our food choices and activity level. Follow these tips and soon enough, the weather will match our mindset! 

(Submitted by Maggie Hill, UWGB Dietetic Intern)

Family Meals Do More than Put Food on the Table: March, National Nutrition Month® Spotlights the Benefits of Cooking and Eating as a Family

 

 

Make mealtime a family time. If you can get together for meals even a few times a week, family meals mean healthier eating – and more. For National Nutrition Month®, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and WES encourages all families to make a commitment to eating more meals together and “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” Research shows that family meals promote healthier eating – more fruits, vegetables and fiber; less fried food; and often fewer calories.

The Waupaca Eating Smart (WES) Program highlights “healthy family meals” at participating WES grocery stores by offering recipes for entrees and side dishes that meet the WES criteria of 700 calories and 1 cup of fruits and/or vegetables.  Stop by the Waupaca Piggly Wiggly for delicious, easy recipes to take home and try with your family.  Pick up the ingredients for the recipes while you’re shopping at the store.  Look for other tips to include healthy, family friendly ideas in the store’s produce department: signs detailing what to do with various fruits and veggies and a binder of take home tips for identifying and preparing some of the great produce in the store. And watch for an upcoming sampling in the deli or a delicious WES approved recipe!

Here are some ideas for adding more family meals to any family’s routine:

  • Start slowly. However many meals you eat as a family now, add one more to your weekly schedule. If school nights are too hectic for a family dinner, make it a leisurely weekend breakfast or lunch. After a few weeks, add another family meal to your schedule.
  • Plan tasty menus together. Putting together a family meal does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. Let every member of the family choose a favorite item and build simple, delicious meals around them. Even small children can pick a main dish like tacos or pasta, a vegetable like a green salad or cooked carrots and sliced apples or fruit salad for dessert.
  • Talk! The conversations families have while eating together have a huge impact, as you share experiences and ideas, and pass along family values. Pick topics that are positive and allow everyone to talk. Even toddlers like to discuss topics like ‘What is your favorite color?’ or ‘What made you laugh today?’
  • Turn off the TV, phones and anything else that makes a lot of noise. They create distractions that can throw off any family’s mealtime routine. Declare mealtime a TV- and phone-free zone, except for emergencies, of course. Instead, put on some background music, played at low volume, to add a relaxing atmosphere.

No matter your children’s ages, parents and caretakers can find countless resources and a wide range of information about eating right at www.eatright.org,  the website for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Also check out their “Kids Eat Right” section (http://www.eatright.org/kids) and their National Nutrition Month link for a variety of helpful tips, games, and nutrition education resources, all designed to spread the message of good nutrition based on the “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” theme.

A Recipe for a Healthy Heart – Heart Healthy Awareness Month

 As we enter the month of February, the sight of red and pink hearts becomes emblazoned in most stores and businesses. Many of us see this vision and are reminded of the sweet Valentine’s we received as children, while the American Heart Association sees something different. This is their opportunity to bring heart healthy awareness to the forefront and use the month’s heart mascot to their educational advantage. In Waupaca County, we are serious about improving the health of those in our community.  With our Waupaca Eating Smart Initiative, we’ve made healthy living easier by highlighting nutritious food choices in restaurants and grocery stores. Stop guessing, and start eating! Here are a few additional tips that will help along your journey while also reducing your risk of developing heart disease.

 Eat a Healthful Diet 

            Eating a heart healthy diet is one of the most important factors for keeping heart disease at bay. What does a heart healthy diet consist of one may ask? The answer is quite simple – keep to a plush variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and the least processed the item the better. The more processed the food item is, the higher the chances are it is filled with unhealthy fat and salt/sodium, which does not bode well for the heart. You can easily find “WES” approved recipes, as well as the ingredients to make them, at the Waupaca Piggly Wiggly or Pick N’ Save for your grocery shopping convenience!

 Maintain a Healthy Weight 

            Carrying around a few extra holiday pounds can be discouraging, but the problem escalates when those pounds contribute to being in the “overweight” or even “obese” category. Both categories put an individual at a higher risk for developing heart disease. Want to have a delicious meal while maintaining a healthy weight? Stop into one of our “WES” supported restaurants and order one of our approved meals, which includes a lower-calorie entrée with a side of fruit or vegetables. Notice a common theme?! Ease and convenience to make decisions effortless for you!

 Exercise on a Regular Basis 

            Physical activity has been shown to not only assist with maintaining a healthy weight, but helps to keep cholesterol and blood pressure levels down. Does this mean if you are inexperienced in the exercise department to sign up for the next 5k race? Absolutely not. Going for a walk around the neighborhood is an excellent way to keep active. Now we do not have a restaurant or grocery store that provides this service for you, but walking to the Secret Garden Café on your lunch break for a meal serves as double duty!

 Keep Lifestyle Choices Heart Healthy 

            Lifestyle choices such as cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption can increase one’s chance for developing some form of heart disease. Men should limit their alcohol use to no more than two drinks per day while females, no more than one drink per day. As for smoking, it is highly encouraged to quit altogether to prevent further damage.

         The “WES” program is here to make living a healthier lifestyle easier and more convenient for our community members. We hope you will follow a few of our heart-healthy tips not only in the month of February, but for months to come!

How Does Earth Day Relate to WES?

On April 22 of each year people around the world plant trees, commute to work by bicycle and pick up trash in their neighborhoods to observe Earth Day, an event created to shine a spotlight on environmental concerns.  The first Earth Day was organized by Gaylord Nelson, a former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, in 1970 as a way to bring environmental protection onto the national political agenda.  Today, the Earth Day Network and EPA organize events and volunteer opportunities in every region of the U.S. to give citizens a way to organize to directly affect the environment around them.  Learn more about Earth Day by visiting their website at http://www.earthday.org/2013/

So you might ask, “How does Earth Day relate to Waupaca Eating Smart (WES)?”  Got you thinking, didn’t we?  One of the main objectives of WES is to promote eating more fruits and vegetables.  Any form of fruits and vegetables is great: fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.  However, another strategy WES has tried to promote in its partner restaurants is offering more locally grown produce.  Eating locally grown produce, or growing your own in your own backyard garden, is a great way to know exactly what is in the food you are eating.  But what if you don’t eat produce you grow yourself—will it still be as healthy and safe?  Some people are concerned the produce they buy may contain pesticides, so may choose to purchase organic produce.  How can you make a choice that is both safe and healthy?

First, it’s important to know that the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. You can use tools like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ to help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables (the Dirty Dozen™) and choosing the least contaminated produce.  Look for their findings on their website:  http://www.ewg.org/foodnews2013/summary.php

Bottom line—fruits and vegetables are an important part of your diet—half of your plate should contain them!  Be a smart shopper when you visit the grocery store or restaurant and know what to look for and ask for.  And always wash your produce at home before you prepare and eat them.  Fruits and veggies are a tasty addition to your diet.  And spring and summer produce are just around the corner, so look for crisp asparagus, tangy rhubarb, and sweet strawberries soon!  Eat Smart Waupaca!

Breakfast!

Granola BarsWhat should I do about breakfast? From time constraints to not being hungry, there are a variety of barriers that many people face each morning when it comes to eating breakfast. Eating breakfast is a good way to refuel and jumpstart your body for the day. If you think about the last time you ate, which was probably the previous evening, your body is running on very low energy sources. Eating something in the morning will help replenish that energy to increase muscle and brain function at the beginning of your day. WES can give you some ideas on including a tasty and healthy breakfast every morning!

One study found that most adults said they don’t eat breakfast in the morning because they aren’t hungry yet. That’s okay! You don’t have to eat a huge filling meal the moment you wake up. To wake your body up and get your metabolism going you could try just eating something light, like a piece of fruit. Why not try a delicious banana or apple?  This option is quick and not too filling, but just enough to get your body going. You can pack a snack for later in the morning when you do start to feel hungry. Again, these snacks can be quick and easy like dry cereal, granola, low-fat yogurt, or peanut butter with whole wheat toast or bread.

Some people don’t like breakfast foods, which is okay too! There is no rule that says certain foods are designated for the morning only. If you want to have a salad or some whole wheat crackers and cheese or leftovers from last night, go for it! Some people don’t think about breakfast for getting more of their daily fruits and veggies in, but this meal offers lots of opportunities to do just that!  Why not add leftover veggies to your scrambled eggs or omelet?  How about a scoop of salsa with your eggs?  Peanut butter on celery is fast, portable, and has the added bonus of long lasting protein in the peanut butter!  Or try a delicious smoothie!  You can add just about any fruit (and even some veggies) to your smoothie recipe for a great start on the day.  Just remember to chose lean protein, low-fat or fat-free dairy, whole grain or whole wheat, and fruits and vegetables.  For more filling breakfast foods, choose ones that have protein and fiber to keep you fuller longer.  Making healthy choices at your first meal will guide you to making better food choices all day long. By eating breakfast, you’ll be less likely to crave vending machine foods high in fat or sugar to get you by until lunch time.

Check out these Waupaca WES restaurants for great fruit and veggie options in the morning: Sisters, Cronies, and Waupaca Woods.

For more breakfast information, tips, and recipes, visit the Kids Eat Right Breakfast page at:

http://www.eatright.org/kids/articles.aspx?topic=4295378663

Here are two recipes that are great “to go” breakfast items that you can make ahead of time:

Smoothie 

 

 

 

 

Fruit Smoothie

1 cup orange juice

½ cup plain yogurt

1 frozen banana

1 cup of frozen fruit of your choice (can do ½ cup of two different kinds too)

Optional: 1/2 cup fresh spinach, 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed

LOW FAT GRANOLA BARS WITH BANANAS, CRANBERRIES & PECANS
3 1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup roughly chopped pecans
3 large, ripe bananas
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoon ground flax seed (or flax meal)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, with about 1 inch of parchment paper overlapping the sides.

2. Spread out the oats and chopped pecans on a baking sheet. Place in the oven until they are lightly toasted, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with the back of a fork. Stir in applesauce until combined.

4. Transfer the oats and pecans to a large bowl and stir in dried cranberries, ground flax seed (flax meal), cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

5. Stir the banana mixture into the oat mixture until well combined and starting to clump together. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and press down evenly.

6. Bake until the bars are golden brown and starting to separate from sides of the pan, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

7. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Let cool to room temperature, then cut into bars. Serve or store in an airtight container.  From cookeatshare.com

Source: the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics- Eatright.org

March is National Nutrition Month

MyPlate GreenHave you heard about National Nutrition Month?  It’s been celebrated every March since 1973. When the program first got started, it was only a week-long celebration, but in 1980, it changed to a month-long event. WES would like to highlight this annual event with some tips on how you can not only eat healthier, but personalize how you and your family eat to make it work for you.

Since the beginning, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has had a theme that focuses around the original intention of National Nutrition Month “to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of good nutrition and position Academy members as the authorities in nutrition.”  This year the theme is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day,” meaning that each individual is influenced in different ways and that affects their eating habits. People should look to the USDA dietary guidelines (ChooseMyPlate.gov) for guidance, but it is up to them on how they go about choosing what they will eat. It is important to have a balanced diet with a variety of foods, but each person can select what they enjoy.

It can be difficult for individuals to know what is right for them and what food choices they have-there is so much information available-how is a person to know what is right and what is not? That’s where ChooseMyPlate.gov can help! This is a great resource because it not only states food guidelines but has other information as well, and people can trust the information as coming from authorities in nutrition.

SuperTracker is a great feature on the website that allows people to enter in information about themselves, what they eat, and how physically active they are. When done, they receive personalized recommendations on how to improve or how to stay on track with what they are already doing.

On the ChooseMyPlate.gov website you can explore different types of fruits and veggies—how to prepare them and recipes to try.  This can help when planning meals because people tend to purchase the same things.

You already know that WES promotes including more fruits and vegetables every day.  One of the requirements for a WES meal in participating Waupaca restaurants and in Waupaca WES store recipes is to include 1 cup of fruits and vegetables.  This makes it easy for you, as a consumer, to order or make a delicious meal without worrying about how to include your fruits and veggies.  Why not stop in at T-Dubb’s and enjoy a delicious WES entrée like “Harvest Salad” or their “Portabella Mushroom Melt?”  Or stop in at Piggly Wiggly or Pick’n Save and pick up a WES approved vegetable side dish recipe at the deli counter like “Sweet Sour Leafy Green Salad?”   

National Nutrition Month may only be celebrated during March, but why not get familiar with tips on the WES blog site and ChooseMyPlate.gov  for ideas you can use throughout the year.

February is American Heart Month

Heart disease kills an estimated 630,000 Americans each year. It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women. You are at higher risk of heart disease if you are:

• A woman age 55 or older

• A man age 45 or older

• Or a person with a family history of early heart disease

To prevent heart disease and increase awareness of its affects, the Waupaca County NuAct Coalition and Waupaca Eating Smart (WES) are proudly participating in American Heart Month during February, sponsored by the American Heart Association (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/)

Planning a grocery store trip this weekend? Pump up your heart health by choosing more fruits and vegetables.  Visit one of the Waupaca WES stores: Piggly Wiggly or Pick ‘n Save, and check out the huge variety of fruits and vegetables available this time of year.  All forms count: fresh, canned, frozen, and dried.  Look for the WES “point of purchase signs” in the produce department that highlight specific fruits/vegetables.  The signs give details on what the fruit or vegetable provides as far as nutrients, and gives ways to prepare them.  Don’t know what a butternut squash or fresh kale are?  Look for the fruit/vegetable guides (a binder in the Piggly Wiggly produce section and recipe cards at Pick ‘n Save) for take home ideas on incorporating some of these delicious fruits and vegetables into your family meals.  You can also pick up WES recipe ideas at the stores’ deli section—just ask the staff where the WES recipes are that you can take home.  The side dishes all contain 300 or less calories and a cup of fruits/vegetables/serving and the companion entrees, paired with the sides, come in at a mere 700 calories or less!!

Eat Smart Waupaca!

Make Healthy Eating a Part of Your Holiday Season

Does the mere thought of the holidays make you gain ten pounds? Do you find yourself stressed as you approach holiday buffet options?

The reality is that the average person gains about one pound during the holiday season. It may not seem like much, but over time, gaining a pound a year adds up.

During the holidays, people tend to eat out more than they typically do for a variety of reasons including attending holiday parties and family get-togethers. On these special occasions, we sometimes allow ourselves to over-indulge because of the idea that the event only happens once a year so why not enjoy it. However, there are ways we can enjoy holiday foods while also maintaining a healthy diet.

Researchers have found that for most people it’s easier to prevent weight gain than to lose weight. Since the holidays come around every year, it is important to plan ahead for healthy holiday eating.

WES offers these tips for your office holiday party, neighborhood get-together, or everyday family meals to prevent gaining weight over the holidays.

  1. Don’t go to a get-together when you’re hungry. Instead, have a pre-party snack of some tasty, brightly colored fresh fruit and cut-up vegetables. They look great and taste good too! This way, you will not be as tempted to try everything when you reach your destination.
  2. Keep portion sizes under control. Portion sizes of food served away from home have increased dramatically in the past 50 years. Larger food portions contain more calories. And when people are served larger portions, they eat more food.  Need a refresher on portion sizes? Visit www.choosemyplate.gov to learn more.
  3. Slow down on the beverages. Many holiday concoctions are packed with calories. You don’t have to give them up completely. Try consuming a glass of water or diet soda between high-calorie beverages. You will save yourself calories and stay hydrated throughout the event. Consider volunteering to serve as the designated driver.
  4. Grab a smaller plate. Research has shown that using smaller plates will help you consume fewer calories. Eat your food slowly and enjoy the textures and flavors of the season.
  5. Stay active over the holidays. Researchers report that those who are less active gained the most weight during the holidays. Keep up your regular exercise and consider adding simple activities to your daily routine, including taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in the furthest parking spot from your destination. 

Healthy Halloween!

Halloween brings a few things to mind: parties, trick or treating, and pumpkin carving!  Some of these things can work to your advantage or disadvantage when trying to eat more fruits and veggies in October.  Here are some tips to help you avoid over-treating, and instead, trick yourself into feeling satisfied.

Costume Parties:  When attending any party, everyone knows that food is often the center of the attraction and can often tempt you to indulge and over-indulge.  Caramel apples, pumpkin pie, and candy corn are just a few of the classic treats that are often indulgences during this festive time of year.  Fortunately, caramel apples and pumpkin pie are filled with nutrients and are indulgences you can feel good about!  Unfortunately, candy corn packs zero micronutrients and does not provide any fruits or veggies to your diet. So, if you are going to indulge, choose a caramel apple over that candy corn!

Trick or Treat:  Trick or treating can be a situation where you set yourself up for tons of candy and no fruits and vegetables in the house!  Don’t let the candy overtake your household. Instead, when purchasing candy, wait until the day before Halloween to purchase your candy.  Keep it hidden out of sight so it is less likely to tempt you.  Also, remind yourself that candy is available year-round, and just because it is Halloween does not mean you NEED to eat candy.   Also, consider handing out healthier options to the kids!  Find prepackaged apple slices in your grocery store or dried fruit leather for some delicious treats! 

Jack-O-lanterns:  Carving pumpkins is a great activity for family to come together and do something fun and out of the ordinary!  Not only is it a great opportunity to have fun, it is also a great excuse to make pumpkin soup and roast pumpkin seeds!  Instead of tossing the guts, how about a splendid pumpkin soup with some roasted pumpkin seeds on top for garnish?  If pumpkin soup is not your forte, roasted pumpkin seeds alone are a favorite with kids, and adults alike.  Just lay out pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and any other seasoning you want to spice them up!  I like to add the zest of an orange and ginger for a sweeter seed with festive flavor!

Instead of making the candy the focus of this Halloween, now you are fully prepared to incorporate fruits and veggies, and make them the treat that tops off the night!  Have a happy, healthy Halloween!