September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month!

By Jacqueline Weiss, Cornell University, Nutrition Sciences Intern 
Reviewed by Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD, Director of Community Outreach, CHEF
Edited by Andi Champion, Program Coordinator, CHEF

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month. Obesity is a preventable and treatable health condition that increases the risk for other health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. As a parent, it is important to help your child learn healthy lifestyle habits that can help reduce their risk of childhood obesity.

We encourage you to dedicate this month to making small changes to improve the well-being of you and your family. Introduce new foods into your family’s diets, use herbs instead of sodium to boost the flavor in your meals, makeover your pantry so that you always have healthy staples on hand, enjoy a weekend at the farmer’s market where you can learn about eating seasonally, or add extra veggies to foods your family already loves.

Another small change that will make a positive impact on your health is increasing physical activity. It’s recommended that children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of exercise per day. Try adding a family walk, a bike ride, or going to the park to your evening routine. Making your health a priority is the first step in helping your children form healthy habits for life.

To learn more about fighting obesity through nutrition and hands-on cooking, sign up for a CHEF class!

CHEF at Carroll Bell Elementary

by Andi Champion, Program Coordinator, CHEF

Scott Albach, PE Coach at Carroll Bell Elementary School in Harlandale ISD, first learned about CHEF when he attended our 2018 Conference for Educators, Driving Healthy Eating in San Antonio Schools. He had always been interested in health education and wanted to help his students make healthier choices, but wasn’t sure how to introduce nutrition messaging to his students. During the program, he sat next to Terri Pitts, a PE coach at Colonial Hills Elementary. After hearing Terri excitedly talk about bringing CHEF programming to her own elementary school and bouncing around ideas of how she would make it a success, Scott felt motivated and confident that he could do the same for his own students. Throughout the day he learned more about our simple approach to culinary medicine and left the conference with one goal in mind…to bring CHEF to his own school.

Fast forward seven months, and Scott’s students are on track to finish all eight CHEF Bites lessons, becoming one of the first CHEF-Approved schools in San Antonio. “I just think this is the best program. There’s something about the approach that breaks the barrier down. It forces students to try something new but in a way that’s familiar,” said Scott when asked about the success of the program at his school.

At Carroll Bell, CHEF is being taught to all second grade students (about 100 in total), with the help of three fifth grade Mayor’s Fitness Council Student Ambassadors. When deciding how to implement programming at his school, Scott knew he had to choose a grade that would be easily influenced and “open minded”. Another factor that came into play when choosing second graders was that their PE class was right before lunch giving Scott the hope that “students would go into their lunch hour being well informed and making better choices”.

We sat down with the three Mayor’s Fitness Council Student Ambassador’s, Tabitha, Rebecca, and Servando, to ask them about their experience with CHEF:

“I can try different recipes,” Tabitha shared excitedly. She and her twin sister Rebecca have also started, “exploring around in the kitchen and with recipes,” at their own home.

One of the biggest takeaways for Servando was learning how to “use a knife the safe way” using the “claw method” which was taught to him in his CHEF Student Ambassador training.

All three students shared that they enjoy teaching the younger children at their school how to make better choices to “help those that don’t eat healthy foods and love junk food.”

The second grade students look up to these fifth graders and Coach Albach and are more willing to try new foods when they see it being prepared by friendly faces. “There are so many examples of kids who are having realizations about things they’ve never tried before,” said Coach Albach.  He reported that CHEF has helped his students understand where their food comes from and the effect it can have on their health.

“This is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of and the kids are excited about it. There’s no doubt about that. When they come into the gym on CHEF day, they can’t hold it in,” shared Coach Albach.

Carroll Bell plans to continue teaching CHEF in the upcoming semesters and hopes to eventually have a school garden that they can incorporate into classes. If you are interested in bringing CHEF to your school, please apply here: http://chefsa.org/platform

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

by Sally Rubio, UTSA Dietetic Student
reviewed by Celina Parás,  Nutrition Education Specialist, CHEF, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio 

edited by Andi Champion, Program Coordiantor, CHEF

While leading a healthier lifestyle is a common goal for most people, it can be intimidating when you don’t know where to begin. Follow our simple steps to get motivated and help your family reach your health goals.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet means eating a wide variety of food groups in moderation and correct proportion. Your plate should consist of fruits, veggies, grains, protein, and dairy. MyPlate is a great visual guide to help remember what a balanced plate should look like. According to MyPlate you should: make half your plate fruits and vegetables, make sure half of your grain intake are whole grains, choose low-fat or fat-free dairy, and vary your sources of protein.

It’s also important to eat the right number of calories is based on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level. For more guidance, visit MyPlate.gov.

Stay Active 

Physical activity is essential to sustain a healthy lifestyle and improve your well-being. This can be any activity that makes your body move and burns calories such as; bike riding, swimming, walking, running, weight training, etc. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, five times a week for optimal health.

Think Positively and Listen to Your Body

There will be days where you feel like you have failed by eating a doughnut or a bag of chips but remember that it’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while. Food does not define who you are!  Positive remarks towards yourself will give you the push you need to stay on track and reach your goal. Learning how to listen to your body is also essential. There will be days when exhaustion will kick in by everyday life activities so listen to your body and give it the rest it needs so you don’t burn out.

References:

 What is MyPlate? Choose MyPlate. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate. Published 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018.

 Suggested Servings from Each Food Group. www.heart.org. http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/suggested-servings-from-each-food-group. Published 2018. Accessed October 30, 2018.

 American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults. www.heart.org. http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults. Published 2018. Accessed October 30, 2018.

Chef Dave Terrazas Goes International

by Chef Dave Terrazas, Culinary and Wellness Program Specialist, San Antonio Botanical Garden

There are great jobs, and then there are dream jobs.  For the last two years, I have been living the dream, serving this great city and its visitors at the San Antonio Botanical Garden as its Culinary and Wellness Program Manager.  But dream jobs, like any worthy endeavor in life, come with challenges; some you come across along the way, and some you create for yourself.  At the garden, we started out ambitious, launching our culinary and wellness programming before we even had a Teaching Kitchen.  I started on the job about a year before we warmed up the oven for the first time, creating small mobile kitchen suites that I carted around to different parts of the garden, in order to teach healthy, delicious, and fun-to-make recipes.  These recipes were not just for the delights of adults looking for a fun date night, although that is admittedly one of our goals. The garden, though years of practice creating family based programs, decided from the beginning that our programming needed to serve all San Antonians, and the city’s visitors…and that means serving kids.

While the garden was looking to expand by eight full acres in 2016, its leadership focused on creating a teaching space that would celebrate the city’s cultural traditions, while at the same time championing community opportunities that include sourcing food locally, sustainably, and optimizing nutrition.  While plans were underway, a fortuitous thing happened that brought the garden together with Goldsbury Foundation’s Culinary Health Education for Families (CHEF) initiative, which has since added important layers of nutrition fundamentals and a little culinary how-to through CHEF’s native programming with our own.  As we opened the CHEF outdoor Teaching Kitchen in the new garden expansion two Octobers ago, which is surrounded by a lush, beautiful one-acre garden, we instantly knew we had something special. It made me want to work even harder than I had the previous year to make the garden one of the city’s best resources for learning about food security (including not only access to food, but good food), general health and wellness, and how to put it all into practice in a way that celebrates who we are as San Antonians.

After all of that celebrating across two years, I was getting ready to settle into the holiday season, but just as I was getting ready to hang the apron up, I got a call from the city’s World Heritage Office in November, asking me if I would like to travel to Chengdu, China in the heart of both Sichuan Province and the Chinese mainland, to represent San Antonio as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy for a sister city event in December.  The city of Chengdu, like San Antonio, bears the City of Gastronomy designation under the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization (UNESCO) Creative Cities Network program.  Across the globe, there are many cities in the seven-category program, but there are only two American Cities of Gastronomy – Tucson and San Antonio.  Chengdu is very similar to San Antonio with centuries of cultural diversity, vibe, and a unique way of celebrating the old and the new, and the rural and the urban.  The city has held a food festival for fifteen years that cherishes and celebrates what we often call “foodways”, focusing on localism, sustainability, nutrition, and the culinary arts.  Eighteen cities around the world accepted Chengdu’s invitation in December, and I, along with Kristina Zhao (owner of Sichuan House Bistro here in San Antonio), represented San Antonio and the United States.

We toured the city and festival several days, being treated like virtual celebrities but found when we arrived that we would be competitors in a friendly competition against our fellow visiting city delegations.  When it came time to selecting recipes, I knew that Kristina and I had to bring the best of our city to Chengdu, so we chose to create tacos…that’s right, tacos. But – not just any tacos would do.  Deciding to showcase what our city calls “Tex-Next”, we chose to combine Latin American and Asian flavors, resulting in a Mayan style pork carne guisado spiced with ginger, clove, cumin and Sichuanese chilies, served on an orange-infused tortilla made with orange peel and juice, and wheat and corn flours.  We topped our tacos with a fresh, vibrant, Peruvian style salsa called “criollo” – a citrus marinated slaw of julienned onion, chilies, and vegetables.  In the end, we had a heart healthy, delicious, and culturally distinct, if modern, offering that we hoped celebrated the many cultures of our great city, while honoring our host…and we won!  Our trophy now sits at the botanical garden, which serves as a reminder how wonderful our city, and our world truly is, how much there is to celebrate (including good, no, great food), and how much we have in common with each other around the world.  We were excited to bring our recipe home, and we have added it to the CHEF recipe book, and will be teaching it this spring at the garden.  You see?  There are great jobs, and then there are great job! 

Weight Management Through an Active Role in Nutrition

by Arlayna Jackson, UTSA Dietetic Intern

reviewed by Celina Parás, MS, RDN, LD, Nutrition Education Specialist, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Nearly one in five children and youth in the United States are obese, therefore putting them at greater risk of developing diabetes and other chronic disease.1 This National Nutrition Month®, we encourage you to take action by making small, attainable goals to help your family maintain a healthier lifestyle. Channel your inner chef, artist, and scientist to help develop a plan with three simple goals to combat obesity through nutrition…and get acting!

The Chef
Whip on that apron and assign sous-chef duties to the kids! Preparing food at home is associated with improved diet quality. When you prepare foods yourself, you control what exactly goes in your meal. The long list of unpronounceable ingredients on pre-packaged foods can easily become five familiar ingredients by recreating the meal in your own kitchen. This can also reduce excessive amounts of added sugar, salt, and fat that are commonly hidden in foods but not so hidden on your waistline.

The Artist
The plate is your canvas; paint your plate with a variety of non-starchy veggies! This includes carrots, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, and many more. You can be creative and swap high-carbohydrate items for non-starchy vegetables, such as switching pasta for spiralized zucchini, mashed potatoes for cauliflower mash, rice for minced broccoli, tortillas for large lettuce leaves, and buns for a halved bell pepper. A colorful and unique masterpiece will appear before your eyes! Remember, the more color on your plate, the more nutrients. Plants are also a great way to increase fiber in your diet. More vegetable consumption can help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping you full longer, regulating blood sugar levels, and aiding in digestion. Not to mention the many heart healthy benefits. Children with low fiber intake are three to four times more likely to be overweight compared to those with higher fiber intakes!3

The Scientist
If a scientist is not accurate with measurements and adds too much of one chemical to his solution, he could create a hazardous explosion. Now apply this to the human body! If we eat too much of one food, it could become hazardous to our health. Get eye-level with the measuring cup and develop portion control strategies (goggles and lab coat not required, but totally optional)! Serving children portion sizes that are not age-appropriate can lead to a 25% increased energy intake at each meal, which ultimately increases weight gain over time.4

The combined skill set of the characters of cooking at home, creatively incorporating vegetables, and measuring out portions will help you better maintain your weight and reduce the risk of chronic disease through nutrition. Excess weight and obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.1 You determine your future, so become a chef, artist, and scientist in the kitchen to become the healthiest version of yourself. 3, 2, 1..action!

Sources

  1. Healthy Schools. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/index.htm. Published September 18, 2018. Accessed November1, 2018.
  2. Altman M, Cahill Holland J, Lundeen D, et al. Reduction in Food Away from Home Is Associated with Improved Child Relative Weight and Body Composition Outcomes and This Relation Is Mediated by Changes in Diet Quality. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2015;115(9):1400-1407.
  3. Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis Jr RH, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews. 2009;67(4):188-205.
  4. Birch LL, Ventura AK. Preventing childhood obesity: what works? International Journal Of Obesity. 2009;33:S74.

Shaping Our Gut Microbiome

by Celina Parás, MSc, RDN, LD
Nutrition Education Specialist, CHEF, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

By now, you’ve probably heard about probiotics and prebiotics. You can find them as supplements and they’re even added to foods at the super market, but did you know you can also find them naturally in many foods?

Probiotics and Their Role in Health and Food Sources

Each person houses thousands of bacteria in their gut. While most play an important role in health, others may be harmful by disrupting our gut balance. Probiotics are ‘friendly’ bacteria that promote digestive health and offer other potential benefits by helping balance our gut-flora. Research has shown that including probiotics into your diet may be a good for your overall health. While there are trillions of different strains of probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two strains in particular that have been demonstrated to promote digestive health.  Studies have shown that a healthy gut-flora is associated with many health benefits including; better nutrient absorption, a strong immune system, heart health, and brain health.

Probiotics are naturally found in foods like yogurt, kefir, and cheese. Non-dairy sources of probiotics include products made from fermented cabbage such as kimchi or sauerkraut. In order to receive the full health benefits from the probiotics in these products, it is important that the organisms are “live and active cultures” as probiotics can be killed by exposure to heat or acidic environments.  Some products that have been pasteurized will sometimes have the label “live and active cultures”.

Prebiotics and Their Role in Health and Food Sources

Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that act as food for the probiotics that live in our gut-flora. Similar to probiotics, they play a role in keeping a healthy balance in the digestive system. Prebiotics are mainly found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains but it’s important to keep in mind that not all plant-based foods will provide prebiotics. Inulin is one of the most common prebiotics found naturally in foods like asparagus, bananas, garlic, leeks, onion, tomatoes, barley, rye, whole grains, and chicory root. Prebiotics can also be added to packaged foods such as bread, breakfast cereals, and yogurt.

Thinking About Including Probiotics and Prebiotics to Your Diet?

While a great deal of research had been done on both probiotics and prebiotic, there is still a lot to learn about their health benefits. However, it doesn’t hurt to try including a few servings of these foods in our daily meals.

For more tips, expert advice, and healthy inspiration, visit our website at www.chefsa.org and follow us on social media at @CHEFSanAntonio!

New Year, New You!

by Kelsi Robinson, UTSA Dietetic Intern
reviewed by Celina Parás, MSc, RDN, LD, Nutrition Education Specialist, CHEF at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

As we begin the new year and you reflect on your New Year’s resolutions, it is important to keep in mind that smaller goals may be more realistic. It is common to set a weight loss goal or try a new fad diet, but these goals are usually too stressful and unlikely to be continued long-term. No one likes to fail, but goals that are not realistic can make someone feel like a failure and force them to just “give up.” This new year focus on small lifestyle changes you can easily fit into your current daily routine.

Try a New Vegetable Weekly
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 out of 10 Americans meet the federal daily vegetable recommendations.1 Vegetables provide many nutrients, including fiber. Fiber from vegetables, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps with digestion, heart health, and can make you feel fuller for longer without all the calories. There are a variety of vegetables many people have not tried or even heard of, so this year try adding one new vegetable a week. This will not only expand your palate, but also increase your vegetable intake.

Add Color on Your Plate
When choosing fruits and vegetables it is also important to consider their color. Color on our plates draws our eyes to the food and inspires us to want to try it. Have your heard the saying “we eat with our eyes?” It is true! Before we even begin eating we look at our plates and if it is not appealing we will not eat it, but if it looks good our brain tell us to start eating.2 As for your health, different colors provide their own sources of nutrients. Color variety can make sure you are getting a large range of nutrients your body needs.

Get Moving!
Start small! If walking around your neighborhood for 30 minutes three times a week is more realistic, then start there. For children, it is recommended to participate in 60 minutes of activity per day.3 Activities can include walking, bike riding, swimming, or anything that gets you moving and gets your heart pumping will improve your health and help with weight management.

So whether you want to lose weight or just begin a healthier lifestyle, start small and you will be more successful. It is easier to maintain goals if they are realistic. As you slowly start combining healthier eating patterns with exercise, long-term weight loss goals will become more realistic without the stressful dieting. So, this new year focus on small changes that are realistic and overtime you will see more improvement in your health long-term.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1116-fruit-vegetable-consumption.html. Published 2017. Accessed December 17, 2018.
  2. Spence C, Okajima K, Cheok AD, Petit O, Michel C. Eating with our eyes: From visual hunger to digital satiation. Brain Cogn. 2016;110:53-63. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2015.08.006
  3. Energy Out: Daily Physical Activity Recommendations. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/fitness/Pages/Energy-Out-Daily-Physical-Activity-Recommendations.aspx. Published 2014. Accessed December 17, 2018.

The Mystery of Ancient Grains

by Tricia Lyles, Baptist Dietetic Intern
reviewed by Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD, Director of Community Outreach, CHEF

By now most people know what whole-grains are as they have been highly promoted and praised for their ability to reduce high cholesterol and prevent heart disease–think oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat bread. Ancient grains on the other hand are still mysterious foods with seemingly funny names to the general population. So, what exactly are these little grains sitting next to rice on the shelves at the grocery store? Well, ancient grains are also whole-grains originating from around the world. While they are not new comers to the world of nutrition, their popularity has rapidly grown in recent years.

Whole-grains contain three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm, whereas refined grains only contain the endosperm. The bran and germ contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are essential to helping keep your body healthy. Ancient grains specifically are even more nutrient dense than modern whole-grains with higher amounts of protein and fiber. The higher protein and fiber content will keep you satiated and help stabilize blood glucose levels.  Additionally, the fiber will help lower high cholesterol levels and improve overall digestion.

Below are some examples of ancient grains, packed full of nutrition that you can start incorporating into your daily diet. A great way to do so is by making a delicious grain bowl. Pick a whole grain, mix it with vegetables, a lean protein, seasonings or homemade dressings, and any extra toppings like fruit or nuts, and you will have an easy, delicious dinner for the entire family to enjoy!

  • Quinoa contains all nine of the essential amino acids necessary to make a complete protein.
  • Kamut or Khorasan, has a nutty flavor and contains several minerals including selenium and magnesium.
  • Farro is packed full of rich, nutty flavor and contains a good amount of nutrients such as zinc and B vitamins.
  • Millet is an ingredient in birdseed, however we can certainly eat it too! It is high in copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium.
  • Spelt may be the oldest grain in existence. It is known for its nutty flavor and chewy texture and is a great alternative to rice or pasta.
  • Amaranth is an easy to cook, crunchy grain rich in Vitamin C, protein, calcium, and iron.
  • Bulgur is also a quick cooking grain, high in manganese, fiber, and protein that can be added to any soups, salads, casseroles and even burgers.

Lastly, always be sure to read the ingredient label and make sure the first ingredient reads “whole wheat” or whole-grain of whichever product you are purchasing. For a tasty whole-grain bowl recipe, please check out the one via the link below!

References:

  1. https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/ancient-grains-mean-health/
  2. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/090114p46.shtml

Cooking With Canned or Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

by Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD,  Director of Community Outreach, CHEF

Cooking with canned or frozen fruits and vegetables is a quick and convenient option for busy weeknight meals. They can even be more nutritious! Shopping in the canned food aisle and freezer section, in addition to fresh produce, can provide a wider variety of meals for even the most discernible palates.

Canned fruits and vegetables have a long shelf-life and are typically free of preservatives. The canning process uses high temperatures to cook and seal the contents. Canned foods are also a quick option as they only need to be reheated. There are many canned foods that come in microwave-safe packaging and can be reheated in minutes. Be sure to look for sodium-free, low-fat, and no added sugar on the labels of your canned foods. Rinsing certain canned vegetables like canned beans can help to remove excess sodium.

Frozen fruits and vegetables can be more nutritious as they are flash frozen closer to the time of being picked. Many frozen vegetables can be microwaved for quick, easy cooking. Choosing plain vegetables or vegetables in low-fat sauces can help control the amount of fat and calories you consume. Frozen meals and entrees can be a great option if you are counting calories – just be sure to compare nutrition labels and serving sizes to find better-for-you options.

Whether you use canned or frozen fruits and vegetables to cook part or all of your meal, you can expedite the time it takes to prepare a delicious, nutritious dinner!

Celebrate Halloween the Healthy Way

By Megan Hamilton, Nutrition Sciences Intern, Texas A&M University
Reviewed by Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD, Director Community Outreach, CHEF
Edited by Andi Champion, Program Coordinator, CHEF

Does the Halloween sugar rush have you spooked? Skip the store bought, pre-packaged treats and include some homemade healthy options in the mix this year. Whether you’re throwing a Halloween party or just bonding with your family in the kitchen, we’ve rounded up some healthy ideas that are scary good!

“Boonanas”: Simply create this fun snack by cutting a peeled banana in half and add chocolate chips to make a face. Place two mini chocolate chips into the banana, pointy side in, and place one regular sized chocolate chip underneath to make a mouth. Stand the “boonanas” up on plate to serve as a spooky treat!

“Mini Pumpkins”: All you need to do for this snack is to cut a stalk of celery in 1- inch pieces and then cut the stalk in half length wise. Stick the piece of celery in a peeled tangerine to finish the look!

“Witches Broomstick”: Cut a slice of string cheese into thirds and make a fringe on one end by making lengthwise cuts about halfway up. Insert a pretzel stick into the uncut end of the cheese and use a small piece of chive to tie the “broomstick” together.

“Candy Corn” Fruit Cocktail: Use a clear glass and layer pineapple and peeled oranges. Top off the fruit with a dollop of whipped cream and a few pieces of candy corn.

Creating these unique, better-for-you treats is a great way to help start the conversation with your kids about making healthy choices! For more ways to change snacks and meals in your kitchen, check out recipe ideas here.

Please note, these Halloween recipes were found and recreated based off of the links below:
https://eatingrichly.com/healthy-kid-snack-for-halloween-boonanas/
https://brendid.com/tangerine-pumpkin-8-healthy-halloween-snack/
https://momfoodie.com/witches-broomstick-snacks-easy-halloween-party-snacks/
https://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2013/09/healthy-halloween-snack-candy-corn-fruit-cocktail.html

October is National Farm to School Month

By Tori Parsons, RD, Texas A&M University Dietetic Intern
Reviewed by Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD, Director of Community Outreach, CHEF

Celebrate the connection between local food and school nutrition during October’s National Farm to School Month! Farm to school programs are becoming increasingly popular across the United States, and for good reason.

  • Farmers win: Farm to school programs provide major financial benefits for local farmers by providing more opportunities for them to sell their produce and market themselves to the community.
  • Kids win: In addition to the increased access to nutritious, fresh produce in their school meals, farm to school programs also open the door to great learning opportunities in the areas of nutrition, agriculture, and cooking.
  • Communities win: Farm to school programs encourage buying local, which strengthens the local economy and provides more job opportunities, while building relationships and increasing community engagement.

From students to parents to farmers, there are great ways for the entire community to be involved. Here are some ways you can join in the celebration with your community:

  • Visit the local farmer’s market for seasonal produce
  • Cook a new vegetable with your family this week
  • Take a tour of a local farm and learn more about where your food is grown
  • If your child’s school does not already, advocate for the start of a school garden

Check out more information about the National Farm to School Network and their mission, here. (http://www.farmtoschool.org/)

How to Stick With Your Health Goals This Summer!

By Jacqueline Weiss, Cornell University, Nutrition Sciences Intern
Reviewed by Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD, Director of Community Outreach, CHEF
Edited by Andi Champion, Program Coordinator, CHEF

With the school year winding down, summer fun is on the horizon! Whether your family plans to fire up the grill, hang out by the pool, or take a trip to the beach, joining in on the end-of-school year celebrations doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of your health goals. If you’re worried about falling into the “anything goes” pitfall, we’ve got great tips to help you stay on track.

Stay Active:
Consider adding more physical actives to your plans. Explore a park on a family hike, have a jump rope or hula hoop contest, enjoy time swimming in the pool, play catch, start up a game of beach volleyball, or go for a bike ride! Engaging children in 60 minutes of physical activity each day is optimal for their well-being.

Choose Better-for-You Foods When Hosting a Cook-Out:
Swap out traditional BBQ items such as hot dogs, chips, and potato salad and replace them with better for you options. Skip those pre-made dips from the store and make your own at home! You’ll save calories and have peace of mind knowing exactly what ingredients went into your dish. Our Simple Hummus and Ranchy Dip are great to serve with sliced up veggies as an appetizer.

Fire up the grill and serve our Herb Rubbed Flank Steak or add a plant-based protein to the menu like our Easy Bean Burgers. Some simple, better-for-you side options include: Citrus Cucumber Slaw, Summer Mango Salsa, Confetti Corn, Kale & Bulgur Medley, or Colorful Black Bean Salsa. Painting your plate with colorful fruits and veggies is a great way to make sure you meet the recommended 5 servings per day.

For a delicious dessert, throw some peaches on the grill or try our fresh Rainbow Fruit Skewers. The possibilities for healthy and tasty foods are endless, especially with the all the fresh produce in season. Check out our CHEF recipes for even more inspiration. Don’t forget to include your kids in the choosing and making of recipes to get them equally as excited!