Put Your Best Fork Forward// Small Changes to Help You Find Balance

Put Your Best Fork Forward.jpgMarch is National Nutrition Month! To help spread its message this month, we’ve got five recommendations for ways you can “Put Your Best Fork Forward.”

  1. Focus on small changes. The Dietary Guidelines recommend starting with small changes that add up to lasting lifestyle changes over time. Perhaps that means starting your day with breakfast, drinking more water or reaching for fruits/vegetables at snack time.
  2. Prepare more meals at home. Gather your family around the table, share a healthy meal and make memories at the same time. Remember to talk positively about healthy foods—your kids are listening!

  3. Make your plate MyPlate. Focus on the five food groups and fill your plate with lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and a serving of low-fat dairy on the side.

  4. Choose healthful options when dining out. Request healthy side dishes and ask for modifications to be sure the meal meets your nutritional goals. Practice portion control by bringing half the food home for another meal.

  5. Find that balance. Weight management comes down to calories in versus calories out, so be sure to find that balance between the two by eating the right amount of food to meet your needs while finding ways to move your body through physical activity.  

This article was written by Kaitlin Anderson, news@postbulletin.com.


Single-serving Oatmeal Pancakes

Oatmeal Pancakes for OneNo more leftover pancakes forgotten in the fridge! Try this single-serving oatmeal pancake recipe, and increase the recipe if you need to feed more people.

Here is a great single serving pancake recipe, packed with protein and fiber to keep you full all morning; and only 215 calories for the entire batch! 


This recipe uses only six ingredients, and you likely already have them in your pantry.


It is super simple to make, simply place all the ingredients in a bowl, and mix just until combined.


Then pre-heat your pan on medium-high heat with a little cooking spray to keep it from sticking. 


Flip once the pancakes starts to set. Be careful not to overcook them; you don’t want the pancakes to get too dark and dry out.


All three pancakes are one serving, only 215 calories, 12.5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber!



Try avoiding sugary syrups and top your pancakes with yogurt and fresh fruit.


Oatmeal Pancakes

1 serving, 215 calories


  • 1 package instant oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup flour (wheat flour preferred) 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk (low-fat preferred) 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • dash cinnamon (optional)


  1.  Place all six ingredients into a small mixing bowl.
  2.  Mix until just combined.
  3.  Pre-heat a skillet on medium-high with a little cooking spray to keep it from sticking.
  4.  Scoop batter into three medium-sized pancakes.
  5.  Flip when the bottom of the pancake is set and lifts easily. Repeat on other side.
  6.  Serve with yogurt and fresh fruit for a flavorful, fresh taste!

For more delicious recipes like this one visit http://kanecountyfoodsense.blogspot.com/

This article was written by Brittney Johnson, Certified Nutrition Education Assistant, USU Extension, Kane County

4 Simple Swaps for a Healthier Lunchbox

Lunch Swaps

What’s for lunch? If you’ve got kids going back to school, chances are you’re thinking about what you’ll send with them in their lunchboxes. Try these simple changes to make their lunches healthier.

With kids going back to school, it is time to get back into the habit of packing lunch boxes.  Here are some simple swaps that can help you make them more nutritious.

1)   Use water or low-fat milk instead of sugared-beverages. Water is great for keeping little ones hydrated.  You can add fruit or herbs to infuse it with flavor.  Let your kids pick their favorite ones to personalize their water bottles.  Low-fat milk is another great option that packs a nutritious boost with calcium and protein.

2)   Stick with whole grain bread and wraps instead of white.  Fiber in whole grains can help your kids feel fuller for longer.  Whole grain breads and wraps also maintain more vitamins and minerals.  

3)   Add whole fruit instead of fruit snacks.  As one of my favorite professors once said, “Grapes are nature’s candy.”  Fruit can be a sweet treat for your kids that provides much more nutrients and less preservatives and dyes than fruit snacks and other fruit-like candy.

4)   Include some veggies instead of no veggies.  Vegetables can be one of the more challenging food groups to get kids to eat.  Let them pick the vegetables they would like to pack.  Use dinnertime and snack time at home as opportunities to introduce them to a variety of vegetables to help them decide what kinds they like best.

Following these steps can help your lunchboxes follow USDA MyPlate recommendations and give your kids a balanced diet that will help get them through their school day.  As you prepare your lunchbox menus for the week, invite your kids to be involved.  They will be more invested in eating something, if they feel like they have a say in what goes in their lunchbox.    

These tips are great for adult lunches too.  Taking your own lunch to work can help you eat well and save money.


This article was written by LaCee Jimenez – Food $ense (SNAP-Ed) Coordinator

Healthy Desserts for July Fourth

Healthy Desserts


Summer berries provide the perfect color palette for patriotic desserts. Try one of these healthier dessert options at your Fourth of July celebration this year.

There will be plenty of hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and potato salad to celebrate America during the month of July. But what’s for dessert? Dessert can be an opportunity to introduce a few healthier options to a meal.

These recipes still have plenty of yummy about them, but are lighter in calories and higher in nutrients. Give one or more of them a try!

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

If you haven’t made these before, they are a must-try! Picture a beautiful red strawberry stuffed with cheesecake filling and topped with a blueberry! Can you think of anything more patriotic than a red, white and blue strawberry treat?  Find the recipe here.

Red, White and Blueberry Popsicles

July can be a scorcher. Cool off with these pretty and nutritious treats! Layer Greek yogurt, pureed blueberries and raspberries in a  popsicle mold, and voila!  A cold, patriotic treat. It will take a bit of time to mix and layer the treats, but it is worth it when you see the look of delight on people’s faces. Get the directions here.

Patriotic Parfait

Who doesn’t want their very own individual dessert? These super easy parfaits are pretty and colorful, and they have a fraction of the calories of a cake or dessert. It is as simple as layer, layer and layer! Find the recipe here, or try this customizable version.

Try making smaller version, or  “dessert shooter.” Smaller portion equals less calories, so it is a no-brainer! Simply layer plain or vanilla Greek yogurt with red and blue berries, topped with your favorite granola in small cup (this blogger uses beer flight cups). Try it with our homemade crispy granola.

Red, White & Blue Fruit Kabobs

Want to keep it even simpler? Make fruit kabobs with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Alternate with white marshmallows, cubes of angel food cake, or a white fruit like dragonfruit, banana, honey dew or casaba melon.  Try it with this chocolate orange dipping sauce.


What are your favorite patriotic desserts?

This article was written by Darlene Christensen, USU Extension associate professor, 435-277-2406, darlene.christensen@usu.edu

Ten Easy Snacks for Summertime Fun

Easy Summer SnacksSkip the pre-packaged unhealthy snacks, and try these 10 easy and nutritious summer snack ideas.

It’s that time of year again. School is out, and kids are making plans for summer adventures – which will naturally include snacks.

Check out the 10 fun, summertime snack ideas below. Some will take a little more prep time, but once they are done, they will be easy for kids to grab out of the freezer so they can be on the way to their next adventure.

  1. Frozen grapesThis is a simple yet tasty snack, and red grapes tend to work best. Pull grapes off the vine, toss them into a freezer bag and freeze. When your kids ask for a popsicle or snow cone, give them a handful of frozen grapes in a cup instead. Better yet, fill an ice-cream cone with grapes, and they can also eat the container!
  2. Watermelon balls – Eating watermelon in the summer is always refreshing, not to mention, it has water to keep your kiddos from getting dehydrated. Rather than just giving a slice or a chunk of watermelon to your kids, grab a melon baller and make little balls. Let them help you so they can take part in making a healthy snack. They can even put them on a skewer for serving.
  3. Homemade fruit roll-ups – Nearly every kid loves fruit roll-ups. Homemade roll-ups are even better AND are very simple. Choose 4 cups of your favorite fruit and puree. You can add a little sugar if desired. This will make enough for two pans. Spread half of the puree until it is about ⅛-inch thick in a 9×13-inch pan lined with parchment paper and sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Spread the other half in the second pan. Bake at 175 F for 3-4 hours. Make sure the fruit doesn’t become burned or too crispy. Once done, pull the parchment paper with the dried fruit out of the pan. Transfer the dried fruit to wax paper, roll up and cut into 1 to 2-inch strips. Store in an air-tight container or freeze.
  4. Ants on a log – This classic treat has always been an easy “go to” for parents. It is also fun for children to eat. All it requires is celery, peanut butter and raisins or dried cranberries. Cut the celery into 3-inch long sticks, fill the center with peanut butter, place the dried fruit along the peanut butter and Voila! A healthy snack.
  5. Cheese, olives and crackers – This may be the simplest snack out there. Grab a plate and cut some cheese sticks, slices or cubes, open up a can of olives and a sleeve of crackers. Kids can combine the three into a sandwich or eat them individually. Or use toothpicks as a skewer and put small chunks of cheese and olives on them.
  6. Strawberry yogurt popsicles – These are a healthy alternative to popsicles filled with sugar. To make this treat, cut tops off the strawberries, and puree the fruit. Using a popsicle mold, layer pureed strawberries with vanilla yogurt. Put in the freezer overnight and freeze. The next day you have a healthy and refreshing frozen treat.
  7. Ham and cheese pretzel bites – Kids can help with this hearty snack. Roll cheese up into ham, cut into 1-inch long “bites,” and push a straight pretzel through the side of the roll to hold it all together.
  8. Butterfly quesadillas – This snack gets in many of the food groups and is as cute as a button to make. Start by making a simple quesadilla. Cut the quesadilla into quarters. Using two of the quarters, turn them so the points touch. Use grapes lined up to make the body of the butterfly and straight pretzels for the antennae.
  9. Baked apple chips – This snack requires a bit of preparation, but it stores easily for later snacking. Core an apple and cut it into thin slices (the thinner the better – preferably 1/16-inch  thick). Place apple slices so they are not overlapping on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Bake at 200 F for 2 hours. After one hour, turn the apple slices over and bake for another hour. Once they are done, let cool and enjoy.
  10. Peanut butter and chocolate chip oatmeal energy balls – These energy balls are simple, easy to make, easy to store and require no baking! The recipe below makes about 12 oatmeal energy balls.


  • 1 cup dry oats
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • Dash of salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla, optional


In a medium bowl, add all of the ingredients, and stir to combine well. The mixture should be a bit sticky. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Use a spoon to scoop about a tablespoon of the cookie ball mixture into your hand. Roll into a ball. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Store the balls covered in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for much longer.


So there you have it. Ten easy, fun snacks that will keep your children healthy and happy. Have a great summer, and happy snacking!


This article was written by Summer Hansen, USU Extension intern, Box Elder County

Resources: https://www.blessthismessplease.com/2017/03/8-no-bake-oatmeal-energy-balls.html?m


Whole Wheat Almond Toaster Waffles

Toaster WafflesConvenient and nutritious? It is possible with these tasty whole wheat toaster waffles. 

My mornings are always super busy, and it can be hard to fit in a nutritious breakfast. Recently I’ve been obsessed with making homemade toaster waffles. On Sunday morning I make a big batch of waffles, freeze what we don’t eat, and put the rest in the freezer. Then on weekdays, I grab one out, pop it in the toaster, and eat it on the run. Or, if I have a few minutes, I can sit and eat it with fresh fruit and syrup.

I love this recipe because it has a great nutty flavor and crisp, light texture. It really sticks with me! The whole-wheat flour means I am getting plenty of fiber and phytochemicals. The almond flour adds a wonderful nutty flavor, and some healthy fats, protein, and fiber.  I hope you will try and it and let me know what you think!

Almond Whole Wheat Toaster Waffles

Makes 6 small waffles or 3 large waffles


  •      1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
  •      ½ cup almond flour
  •      1 teaspoon salt
  •      2 teaspoons baking powder
  •      2 tablespoons sugar
  •      2 large eggs
  •      1 ½ cup milk
  •      1/3 cup canola oil


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, almond flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar).
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the two eggs, and then stir in the milk and oil.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. It is okay if it is a little lumpy, and you don’t want to stir too much or the waffles will be tough.
  4. Cook the waffles using a waffle iron, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Freeze the waffles flat on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a Ziploc bag and put back in the freezer.


You might need to experiment a little to figure out how much batter to use in your iron to make waffles that fit in your toaster. In my iron (it makes thin waffles), I use about ¼ cup of batter and this makes a waffle of the right diameter to fit in my toaster.

I find almond flour in the natural section of my grocery store. If you can’t find it, or it is too expensive, the waffles are really good without it too. If you leave out the almond flour, only use one egg.

This recipe is very flexible for people with food allergies or restrictions. Try using soy or almond milk instead of cows milk, substitute a gluten-free flour mixture for the whole wheat flour, or leave out the almond flour if you can’t have nuts (only use 1 egg if you leave out the almond flour).

Right after you pour the batter into your waffle iron but before you close the lid, you can sprinkle in some chopped pecans if you like a little extra crunch in your waffle.

This article was written by Carrie M. Durward, PhD, RD, Extension Nutrition Specialist and Assistant Professor 

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

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


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

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 Stop Overeating Using Mindfulness

Is healthy eating one of your resolutions for the new year? Try these tips to curb overeating by being more mindful.

Often a new year brings resolutions to get healthy, eat better and lose weight. As most of us know, this is much easier said than done. It becomes more difficult when we have issues with challenging work schedules, numerous child care responsibilities and that office candy bowl that is so tempting.  Mindless eating can sabotage our resolve, so what can we do about it?

“Most of us don’t overeat because we’re hungry,” said Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of the best-selling book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think and the John Dyson Professor of Consumer Behavior at Cornell University. “We overeat because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.”

He attributes rising overweight and obesity rates in America to the availability of food, the affordability of food and the attractiveness of food.  The solution, however, is not to make food less available, affordable or attractive, he says. “The solution is to change your personal environment,” Wansink said.

Mindless eating is defined as deliberately paying attention, being fully aware of what is happening both inside and outside yourself – in your body, heart and mind – and outside yourself, in your environment.

Wansink made the following suggestions for changing our thought process and our environment to improve our resolution success and create better long-term eating patterns:

  1. Smaller plates. Using a 9.5 inch plate vs. 12 inch plate means smaller portions and feeling fuller after eating an entire plate of food. Studies have shown food consumption is 22 percent lower when eating from a smaller plate.
  2. Smaller serving utensils. “Mini-sizing” utensils can reduce the amount of food consumed.
  3. Out of sight, out of mind. Leaving serving bowls and entrees away from the dinner table can prevent second and third servings.
  4. Easy access. Making healthy foods more accessible in cabinets, cupboards and even the refrigerator encourages healthy choices.                                                                                                        
  5. Control portions. Wansink found that people eat much more food when given unlimited quantities. He advises people to eat smaller portion sizes in smaller packages.
  6. Eat when you’re hungry. Let actual hunger cues, not emotions, guide your eating. Substitute a quick walk for a snack until actual hunger sets in. But don’t wait until you’re famished and binge on unhealthy foods.
  7. Plan. Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time to eat throughout the day. A 200-calorie, whole grain, high-fiber snack can satisfy hunger between meals. Fiber keeps you feeling full longer.
  8. Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat and what was happening at the time to identify food triggers – hunger, stress, excitement or boredom. Be careful not to obsess over every calorie. The new American Heart Association diet and lifestyle guidelines acknowledge that overall eating patterns, not occasional indulgences, are what are most important to maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.
  9. Slow down. Here’s where mindfulness can really come into play. During each meal, chew slowly, savoring each bite; put your fork down between bites; and stop eating to take a drink of water (not a sugary soda). This gives the body enough time to signal to the brain that it’s satisfied, not stuffed.
  10. Pay attention. Don’t eat in front of the TV or computer, while standing at the kitchen counter or talking on the phone. This can lead to losing track of how much you’ve consumed.
  11. Use technology. “We can actually use our smartphones and other electronic devices to help us,” said Riska Platt, M.S., a registered dietitian and certified nutritionist for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York and a volunteer with the American Heart Association. “There are now apps that manage food records, count calories, help you track what you eat and even provide guidance on healthy food choices at the grocery store and restaurants.”

This article was written by Cindy Nelson, Utah State University Extension assistant professor

Source: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Using-Mindfulness-to-Stop-Overeating_UCM_462515_Article.jsp#.Vwu-unqPlzY