Put Your Best Fork Forward!

National Nutrition Month 2017

You can make healthier food choices for yourself and your family. Take the leap this month to celebrate National Nutrition Month, and try to decrease the amount of added sugar in your diet.


March is National Nutrition Month and now is the time to go back to the basics of healthy eating. “Put Your Best Fork Forward” is the theme for National Nutrition Month 2017 and reminds us that we each have the tools to help us make healthier food choices. One way make to put your best fork forward this month is to reduce the amount of added sugar you consume. Added sugars have not only been linked to higher dental cavities but also type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Here are some tips to reduce the amount of added sugars you and your family consume:

  1. Check food labels and avoid foods with added sweeteners. Instead, fill your grocery cart with naturally sweet foods like fruits and vegetables (think bell peppers, carrots, and sugar snap peas). 
  2. Avoid high sugar beverages and drink beverages like milk and water instead.
  3. Cook from scratch. Try making your own granola or homemade baked goods. By cooking from scratch you are more in control of the ingredients and amount of added sugar. For example, try chocolate avocado frosting on your favorite cupcakes or brownies  for a low sugar recipe that uses a healthy fat (recipe below).
  4. Ditch the sweetened yogurt— a common source of added sugars. Eat plain yogurt flavored with naturally sweet fruit. You can also try mixing half flavored yogurt with plain, unsweetened yogurt. This will allow for you and your family to adjust your taste buds, eventually using less sweetened varieties.
  5. Develop a healthy relationship with food instead of focusing on completely removing sugar. Save the sweet treats for special occasions!

Chocolate Avocado Frosting

  •      2 very ripe avocados
  •      ¼ cup chopped baking chocolate (around 65% cacao)
  •      ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •      ¼ cup agave
  •      1 teaspoon vanilla
  •      ¼ cup almond milk/soy milk
  •   pinch of salt

Instruction

Melt the baking chocolate in the microwave (careful not to burn it). Let it cool slightly. In a food processor mix all ingredients together. Taste and adjust. Let chill in the fridge for at least 15 or so minutes.


This article was written by Jaqueline Neid- Avila, RDN, CD, Nutrition Faculty




Fresh Take on Salad: Look Beyond the Lettuce

Fresh take on salad.jpgDid you resolve to eat more vegetables this year? Check out these fresh salad recipes from Eat Well Utah!





10 Tips for Better Tasting Fresh Produce

vegetable-tasteHow do you like your vegetables? If you’re looking for some delicious ways to get your family to eat more fruits and veggies, look no further!  We’ve got ten tips to help you pump up the flavor of your fresh produce.


We all know that fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. We’ve learned ways to make them less expensive and more convenient, but what if you or your family members just don’t like the taste? This week we offer 10 tips to help everyone learn to love the taste of fruits and vegetables.

  1. Try fresh fruits or vegetables with a healthy dip or dressing. Try hummus, salad dressing or yogurt.
  2. Increase the amount of vegetables in flavorful, well-liked foods. Try extra tomatoes and beans in chili, carrots in tomato sauce, broccoli mixed into mac and cheese and peas in minestrone soup.
  3. Add shredded carrots or zucchini to meatloaf, casseroles and quick breads.
  4. Try eating your vegetables first, when you are most hungry. Things really do taste better when you are hungry! Put out fresh vegetables with dip before dinner, or start the meal with a salad or vegetable soup.
  5. Shop in season—fruits and vegetables that are in season taste better. Think of a wonderful tomato from the garden in summer vs. the ones you can buy from the store in January. Farmers markets, roadside stands and your local grocery store are great places to get seasonal produce.
  6. Try preparing vegetables in different ways: raw, steamed, roasted, etc. The flavor and texture can be very different, depending on how you cook them. If you don’t like them one way, you might like them another!
  7. I especially recommend roasting or grilling vegetables. You get wonderfully sweet vegetables that are soft and creamy on the inside and crisp on the outside.
  8. Make eating vegetables fun by playing with your food. Try ants on a log, rainbow salad or pizza faces.
  9. Use a small amount of sugar when cooking bitter vegetables like kale or Brussels sprouts. This will help you become more familiar with the taste of vegetables, and you will learn to like the flavor more, even without the sugar!
  10. Just keep trying! We tend to like foods that we eat often or have at least tried multiple times. If you don’t like the taste of a vegetable today, it doesn’t mean you won’t like it the next time you try it!

This article was written by Carrie Durward, Extension Nutrition Specialist




How to Eat More Fresh Produce // 10 Easy-Peasy Tips

eat-more-veggiesLooking for some easy ways to eat more veggies and fruits? We have 10 tips to help you do just that.


In the last article, we learned about ways to make fruits and vegetables part of your diet on a budget. This is important, because fruits and vegetables are full of essential vitamins and minerals. They are also low in calories, but they have lots of fiber and water. This means that when we eat fruits and vegetables, they fill our stomachs, but don’t add a lot of calories. Besides cost, another reason people often don’t get enough fruits and vegetables is time or convenience. Read on for 10 tips to make eating fruits and vegetables fit into your busy lifestyle:

  1. Keep frozen fruits and vegetables on hand. They have the same amount of nutrition as fresh, and they are all ready to go—no cleaning or chopping needed!
  2. Cook fresh or frozen vegetables in the microwave with a little water for a quick side dish.
  3. Make extra vegetable soup and freeze it for days when you don’t have time to cook. Then just defrost in the microwave.
  4. Don’t have time to defrost soup? Open a can of low-sodium soup, add a bag of frozen veggies and serve as soon as it is warm.
  5. Plan ahead—clean and chop fresh vegetables when you have time so they are ready to go. Then you can use them in recipes, eat them with dip or add them to a salad or wrap. Just be aware that chopped veggies may go bad faster, but most chopped veggies will keep for a few days or a week.
  6. Pre-package those chopped veggies in small bags, and then you have an instant snack ready to grab on the way out the door. Think beyond carrot and celery sticks—try bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini slices.
  7. Fruits like oranges, apples and bananas make great food on the go without any additional work from you.
  8. Just like with the vegetables, you can also clean and chop fruit ahead of time. I like to do this with berries, melons and stone fruits like peaches. Add a little lemon juice to sliced fruit, and package them in small containers so they don’t get squashed in your purse or bag.
  9. Dried fruit makes a great on-the-go snack, and since it keeps for a long time, you can stash some in your car, desk or bag for when you are hungry and don’t have a snack packed. Just make sure you stick to the portion size—you only need ¼ cup.
  10. Fruits and vegetables can also be a great part of a quick breakfast—try fresh fruit on your cereal, or pack fresh fruit, yogurt and granola in a container or glass jar for breakfast on the go. Most people don’t think of vegetables at breakfast, but many vegetables are great with eggs in an omelet, scrambled or even just on the side. My favorite is avocado and salsa!

This article was written by Carrie Durward, Extension Nutrition Specialist




How to Afford Fresh Produce // 10 Tips

fresh-produce-costHow do you balance eating healthy with your grocery budget? We’ve got ten tips to help you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables without breaking the bank.


Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet because they provide essential vitamins and minerals. They are also high in fiber and water while low in calories, so they can help us feel full longer on fewer calories. The USDA MyPlate Guidelines tells us to make ½ of our plate fruit and vegetables, but many people find it difficult to put this into practice.

The three main reasons people give for not eating more fruits and vegetables are cost, time, and taste. This week we’ll talk about how to eat fruits and vegetables on a budget, and we will cover how to make fruits and vegetables more convenient and tastier in following weeks.

Many people think that fruits and vegetables are too expensive. However, it depends on how you think about it. Fruits and vegetables do tend to be more expensive per calorie, but less expensive than less healthy foods per gram or per portion eaten. This is because fruits and vegetables are higher in fiber, water, and vitamins and minerals, while being lower in calories. If you think about all of the nutritional benefits you get from fruits and vegetables, it is hard not to see them as a deal!

Here are 10 great tips to include fruits and vegetables in your diet at a lower cost:

  1. Shop in season! Fruits and vegetables are often on sale when they are in season, and usually taste better then too. Find out what vegetables are in season. 
  2. Some vegetables are available for a low cost year round, including potatoes, carrots, onions, and cabbage. Look for recipes online to find new ways to use these staples: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/main-recipes
  3. Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables when they are on sale. Frozen is just as nutritious as fresh, and they can keep 8-10 months in the freezer. Choose those without added sauces, fats, or sugar.
  4. Plan your meals ahead of time so fresh fruits and vegetables get used before they go bad. Learn more about meal planning
  5. To reduce waste, you can freeze leftover vegetables to add to casseroles or soups later, and overripe fruit is great in smoothies or baking.
  6. Canned vegetables are a great option, and are much more affordable than fresh or frozen. Choose fruit canned in 100% juice and vegetables that are low in sodium or have no sodium added. Stock up when they are on sale!
  7. When buying canned or frozen vegetables, try the store brand. The store brand is the same or a similar product at a much lower price.
  8. Check out your local farmer’s market. You can often find great deals on seasonal produce.
  9. If you find a great deal on fresh produce, try freezing or canning it for later use. Learn how from USU Extension
  10. Another way to reduce cost might be to grow your own produce. A backyard garden or patio planter can provide super-fresh produce all summer long. Visit garden.usu.edu for great resources.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to make fruits and vegetables more convenient and tasty.


This article was written by Carrie Durward, Extension Nutrition Specialist




Winter Squash Wonder Pie

winter-squash-pieStill have some winter squash from the garden in your cold storage? Make good use of it in this delicious winter squash wonder pie. The kids won’t even realize they’re eating a vegetable!


Winter Squash Wonder Pie

Total preparation/baking time: 90 minutes (425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees F for 45 minutes)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups banana squash*               
  • 1 cup sugar or baking sucralose                
  • 6 Tbsp. maple syrup                                     
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk
  • Directions

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Prepare squash by washing, cutting and removing seeds. Cut the flesh into large cubes. Place the squash into a pot, adding enough water to cover the cubes. Boil for about 20 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.

Measure the squash, scraping flesh from the shell and squeezing out extra moisture, and place it into a blender. Add the remaining ingredients with the evaporated milk going in last. (If both cans of evaporated milk won’t fit, add one can, and blend until well mixed, move the mixture to a large bowl and mix in the last can of milk.)

Make your own crust, or purchase one from the store. To prevent spills in the oven, place your pie crusts on top of a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. The squash mixture is quite runny, so place the pie tins on the rack, and then pour the mixture into the tins. Carefully push the rack back into the oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees, baking for another 45 minutes. To check for doneness, pat the top of the pie with a butter knife. The pies are ready when the tops are mostly firm. Remove from the oven, letting them cool for about 10 minutes. Serve with whipped topping, and enjoy!

*One regular-sized banana squash will make anywhere from 4-6 pies. Premeasure the extra squash for future pies. It will keep for about 6 months.


This article was written by Marianne Clayburn, Duchesne County FCS Program Assistant

Original recipe contributed by Debbie Clayburn, Bridgeland, Duchesne County 2016




What’s App with That? 7 Apps to Help You Save Money and Eat Better

What's App.jpg
Have you used a food, grocery or coupon app? We’ve got the lowdown on of some of the top apps in these categories to help you decide whether or not they are worth a download.


Grocery and Coupons

FavadoThis app is pretty awesome. You start off by entering your zip code or allowing location access so that the app can search for stores near you. From there, you pick stores of your choice. You can either view the ads for those stores, or better yet, compare the prices for the stores you picked. For instance: I chose Smith’s, Winco, and Costco. I could compare their ads in their entirety, or search for a specific item like broccoli. Smith’s broccoli was $0.79 per pound, while WinCo broccoli was $0.98. By doing this with all my grocery list items I could see where to get the most bang for my buck. You can also add the items you searched for or saw in coupons to a list by store.

Walmart– This app has a great feature: Savings Catcher. You can scan your Walmart receipt and the app will search prices of competitors in the area for advertised deals on the items you purchased. If a lower advertised price is found, Walmart give you the difference on an eGift card. This app also lists the weekly ad and current prices in store. You can order non-grocery items from this app and pick them up at the store, and refill prescriptions from this app. To order groceries, use the Walmart Grocery app, where you are able to select non-perishable foods to be delivered to your front door or complete all of your shopping and have it hand delivered to your car in the parking lot.

*Note: other stores also have their own apps to help with grocery shopping lists, couponing, etc. Smith’s grocery store app allows you to add coupons directly to your Fresh Values card, which eliminates the hassle of cutting and turning in paper coupons. Target’s Cartwheel app allows you to scan items in the store to see if there is a coupon or sale in addition to weekly ad prices. Check to see if the stores at which you typically shop have apps, and then see what they have to offer.

Grocery IQ or Grocery Pal – The best feature on these apps is that you can scan a barcode or use a voice search to find coupons. When you scan a barcode or search for an item, coupons from stores around you will pop up, then you can add the coupons and items you want to your list. This could be handy if you are in a store and want to quickly check prices elsewhere.  You can also view the weekly ads for stores in your area.

Nutrition Tracking

MyNetDiary –  This easy-to-use app is a classic nutrition tracker. You enter your personal information and select if you want to gain, lose or maintain weight. The app then tells you how many calories you should eat each day to achieve your goal. It tracks the amount of the fat, carbs and protein in the foods you enter, and calculates your allowed amount remaining in each category for the day. Perhaps the best part is that you can enter in your own recipes. With many other nutrition trackers, there are preset meals to choose from. With this app, you can select the ingredients that actually made up your lunch for the day, and it will calculate the nutritional information. You can also log exercise, water intake and add personal notes in the app. Using an activity monitor like a Fitbit, you can also track your steps and how many calories burned in the app.

Nutrition Education

Eat and Move -0- Matic – This is a great nutrition education app for families and children, produced by the National 4-H Council. Its designed to be like a game and is geared toward children. Your children may not find it the most exciting game to play on their own, but it is a good educational app for you to go through with your children. The app teaches how food and exercise work together. For example, it would take 27 minutes of jumping rope to burn the calories contained in an 8 ounce glass of chocolate milk.  It has dozens of food and exercise selections to choose from and lists the calories for each food. This is great for helping parents understand how much physical activity their children should be doing for the food they are eating, and it can teach children that they need to exercise to stay healthy and balance what they eat with physical activity.

Recipes and Cooking

Cooking Matters – This app’s focus is healthy, affordable and delicious meals. While it doesn’t have as many recipes as Pinterest, the recipes this app does have are healthy, simple and look very appealing. Many of the recipes use few ingredients. It also lists the serving size of each recipe and has a nice conversion feature to tell you how many ounces are in a pound or how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon, etc.

Do you use any of these apps? Are there any you love that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!


This article was written by Sarah Hepworth Warner, Food Sense nutrition program intern, Utah County, and Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Salt Lake County