During November and December, Holidays meals certainly are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. These holiday spreads have more things to consider when planning and prepping. From number of guests to dietary needs, it’s no wonder we spend a lot of time thinking about holiday dinners and brunches. Beyond these few meals, we have unwavering daily nutritional needs and thus other meal preparation and cooking to consider. Try making the most of the cooler temperatures and food seasonality by making soups and casseroles. Collards, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, apples and many other fruits and vegetables are available during the winter months. Winter squashes are the perfect base for Meatless Mondays, like this vegetarian stuffed acorn squash recipe. Hot sandwiches never disappoint, either! Check out this basic tuna melt recipe by Simply Recipes.
The holidays are meant to be a special time of year. Oftentimes, though, the added undertakings from travel to hosting, can become overwhelming. Luckily, food does not have to be one of the added stressors. Start by focusing on other aspects of the holidays apart from food. This will help reinforce balanced eating that we strive for on any typical day. Ultimately, we can avoid things like skipping meals for fear of overeating later. Set yourself up for success by remembering that enjoying and savoring special meals is a part of culture and tradition that is meant to be enjoyed. In addition, you have the right to either enjoy seconds or say, “no thank you” if you are full. After all, leftovers are the best!
No matter what their age, it’s never too late to help your kids develop healthy mealtime habits. Offering a variety of foods helps kids develop more flexible preferences. If you have a picky eater, start by incorporating new items alongside things your children are already eating. If you are concerned that your child may have an unhealthy habit, avoid talking about food as if it is “good” or “bad.” Instead, you can validate their likes and ensure them those things will be incorporated into their overall intake. Parents can help kids talk through how it feels to eat too much and help them discover how to eat to satisfaction without discomfort, as another example. There are great resources available today such as Jennifer Anderson’s “Kids Eat In Color” resources.
Remove, clean, and dry your pumpkin seeds overnight. For this recipe shoot for about three cups of seeds. Preheat your oven to 325°F and use cooking spray to grease your sheet pans. In a bowl, mix 4 Tbsp of sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp of salt. In a separate bowl, mix 2 Tbsp melted butter and add ½ tsp vanilla extract. Add the pumpkin seeds to your wet ingredients, coat well and then add the dry ingredients while mixing. Once well incorporated, spread evenly in a single layer on your sheet pans and bake 25-35 minutes. Cool on parchment paper.
Body image is the perception that someone has of their physical self. This includes any thoughts and feelings associated with that perception. For many individuals, there is a combination of positive, negative, and neutral experiences and thoughts related to their body image. It is important to understand the affective, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of body image. The affective aspect of body image is how one feels about their body in terms of satisfaction or self-esteem. The cognitive aspects of body image encompass what one believes or thinks in relation to their body. For instance, one might believe they will look better with more muscle mass. Finally, behavioral body image is when one engages in a particular behavior because of their affective and cognitive body image. Self-acceptance can be particularly challenging in a time of heightened social media use where comparison to others is at an all time high. Understanding how our thoughts can drive our behaviors is the first step in creating healthy mind body experiences. Some key things to engage in at home include avoiding negative self-talk and body comparison, especially in front of children. It is also important to be aware of what is read and looked at, especially online.
Salt substitutes have been a dietary means used to help maintain healthy blood pressure in at risk individuals. As of late, the use of herbs has become more popular in general leading to better health management overall. Sodium can raise blood pressure and cause health issues. NaCl, or table salt, does contain sodium; however, studies indicate that over 70% of dietary sodium comes from prepackaged foods versus table salt added during cooking. Moreover, the increasingly trending use of sea salt has spurred some iodine (an added element to table salt) deficiencies that is notable given its need for proper thyroid function. Overall, a more careful approach to buying prepackaged foods may be the best line of defense for maintaining health. In more severe cases in which as individual has kidney disease, for instance, monitoring table salt may also be required. In these cases, salt substitutes can be used to enhance meals. Salt substitutes come in a variety of options from potassium chloride salts to herbs and spices, depending upon the individuals’ needs. From garlic to lemon zest, onion powder and nutrition yeast, the options are endless.
Stretching is critical to maintaining good range of motion in the body’s joints. Without stretching, the muscles become shortened and tightened. Thus, adequate range of motion is one key to injury prevention. Both stretching before an activity, as part of a warmup, as well as after to increase blood flow and flexibility are important. Dynamic stretches help warm up the muscles as they are movement-based such as a heel-to-rear jog or side shuffle. Static stretches that are typically held for 10-30 seconds each can be done after a workout. Stretching is also a great way to build positive mind-body connection. Stretching releases endorphins - an added benefit of an already beneficial tool that allows you to carry your body with greater ease and confidence.
While it is true that a food’s appearance can have an impact on its consumption, social media platforms have taken the concept of food styling to an entirely new level. An actual food stylist showcases food for photography, video or film according to CareerExplorer.com. Combine easier than ever access to technology with a pandemic and you get a new group of amateur lunchbox stylists creating bento boxes that look like executive chefs from Disney World put them together. Don’t sweat! A few tips to increase the appeal of meals includes offering bite sized portions (e.g., cubed cheese blocks and mini muffins), adding easy whimsy with mini cookie cutters (e.g., making star shaped cucumbers) or creating funny food names on labels such as Planet Box’s reusable magnetic labels.
Tahini has really only made its pointed U.S. debut within the last five years. Seen more frequently in middle eastern cuisine, this sesame seed paste is oftentimes found in hummus and salad dressings. As it has become a more popular household staple there is demand for recipes beyond just sauces. This is especially the case as tahini is relatively inexpensive, comes in a sizeable amount, and packs an assortment of vitamins and minerals. Try using tahini in a no bake nut butter bar mix like this one from Trader Joe’s. MyRecipes.com offers up a great tahini chicken marinade recipe that is simple and nutritious. Using tahini in cakes and breads is increasingly popular. Broma Bakery has a delicious tahini banana bread recipe that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Tahini is also a fantastic nut butter substitute for those with nut allergies. No bake cookies afterschool can still be on the menu even for those children with peanut allergies.
Packing well balanced, varied lunches can help your child establish a healthy eating pattern over time. There are so many ways to interpret "balanced" these days. Does a meal need to be "plant-based" or always have something green included to be healthy? In short, the answer to all these questions is a resounding "no." While there are many plate infographics that represent a healthy plate, a general rule of thumb that anyone can follow is to aim to get at least 2-3 food group each time you build a meal. With all of today’s trendy and useful lunchboxes (e.g., Bentgo to Planet Box) this should be an easy rule to follow. Do not overcomplicate things by assuming all items needs to be fresh or homemade, either. Sit down with your kid and ask for feedback on what they would like. A good question prompt may be, “Is there anything that a classmate of yours packed last year that you would like me to buy?”
Kids Eat Right Month is a national campaign that helps families focus on healthy meal planning and active family lifestyle choices. On the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website, families can find varied resources like this yummy apple cinnamon baked oatmeal recipe by Registered Dietitian Taylor Wolfram.
Make-ahead Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
1½ cups fat-free milk or soy milk
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup egg substitute or egg whites
1 tablespoon melted trans-fat-free margarine
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups chopped apples
Serving size: 1 square
Calories: 160; Total fat: 3g; Saturated fat: < 1g; Sodium: 80mg; Total Carbohydrate: 30g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 18g; Protein 4g; Vitamin A: 248 IU; Vitamin C: 1.5 mg; Calcium: 56mg.
Recipe retrieved from https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/recipes/apple-cinnamon-baked-oatmeal-recipe
What Is Oat Milk? While almond milk and soy milk have long been on grocery store shelves, oat milk seems to be making a statement all its own. Another cow’s milk alternative, oat milk boasts some surprising nutritional benefits. Oat milk is typically made using gluten free oats and water. Like most milk products, it is also fortified with nutrients such as Vitamins A, D and Calcium. Being allergen free and protein packed means multi-person households can buy just one milk product to satisfy all. Compared to milk alternatives, oat milk is marginally higher in calories while boasting more fiber and protein.
1. Healthline. Oat Milk: Nutrition, Benefits, and How to Make It. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/oat-milk#nutritionCleveland Clinic. 2. Health Essentials. Is Oat Milk Good For You? (2019). https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-oat-milk-good-for-you-a-dietitian-explains-this-trendy-dairy-alternative/
Try this delicious Greek salad for a fresh, in season and hydrating dish! Whip this up for your next backyard get-together and make extra to use for lunches throughout the week. Simply combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard, salt, and pepper in a bowl, whisk, and pour over the other mixed ingredients!
· ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
· 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
· 1 garlic clove, minced
· ½ teaspoon dried oregano, more for sprinkling
· ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
· 1 English cucumber, cut lengthwise, seeded, and sliced ¼-inch thick
· 1 green bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces
· 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
· 5 ounces feta cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
· ⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
· ⅓ cup pitted Kalamata olives
· ⅓ cup fresh mint leaves
· ¼ teaspoon sea salt
· Freshly ground black pepper
Despite all the fun, summer-time has its own busyness challenges. With vacations, camps and work , time of year it can be hard to allocate both the effort tand money needed for healthy grocery shopping and meal planning. A few tips to help you shop on a budget and ensure your family is eating plenty of nutrients include shopping in season, stocking up on sales and prioritizing less waste. In season fruits and vegetables are often at a reduced price and on sale since there is likely a larger amount of them. There are often sales across varying grocery chains and even brands. Trying out a new brand of cracker or pancake mix may help save a few dollars while adding a little variety to your table. Aiming to use all the food you buy before its expiration can both limit food waste and your frequency of grocery trips.
Now that we are entering some of the highest temperatures of the year, consider foods that have hydrating properties. Staying hydrated is key to maintaining energy levels and health throughout warmer days. Watermelon, one of nature’s most hydrating fruits is a great option because it is both fun and packed with a water content of 92%. In fact, many summer fruits are full of water such as strawberries, cantaloupe and peaches. Vegetables also contain a great amount of water, most notably cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, and celery. While adequate water intake is key, getting added electrolytes from foods such as coconut water, spinach, and avocados can prove beneficial. With school right around the corner, maintaining healthy hydration for the rest of the summer will leave you and your family well equipped to tackle the new school year!
Author: Megan Tomlin, UGA Intern
Nothing screams summer more than having a cookout while enjoying a warm summer evening and bonding time with family and friends. Even though when we typically think of a cookout we think of cheeseburgers and hot dogs, a cookout can actually be a fun opportunity to incorporate fruits and veggies into your family’s diet. Grilling fruit will enhance the sweetness by caramelizing the surface of the fruit. If you prefer additional flavor, sprinkle cinnamon or nutmeg over the fruit to evaluate the flavors. Keep in mind that depending on the fruits you decide to grill, some may heat up faster than others – softer fruits such as bananas will heat up faster than firmer fruits such as apples. Grilling vegetables can also be an excellent way to incorporate more color and flavor into your stereotypical cookout. Virtually all vegetables can be grilled – onions, portabella mushrooms, corn on the cob, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, etc. To add additional flavor to your grilled vegetables, you can marinate them for about 1 hour prior to grilling (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, herbs) or you can brush them with some olive oil and your favorite seasonings. Check out these articles by Nourish Interactive which gives hearty lists of fruit and vegetable grilling recipes!
Nothing screams summer more than having a cookout while enjoying a warm summer evening with family and friends. Even though when we typically think of a cookout we think of cheeseburgers and hot dogs, a cookout can be a fun opportunity to incorporate fruits and veggies into your children’s diets. Grilling fruit, for example, will enhance the sweetness by caramelizing the surface of the fruit. If you prefer additional flavor, sprinkle cinnamon or nutmeg over fruits to evaluate the flavors. Keep in mind that depending on the fruits you decide to grill, some may heat up faster than others – softer fruits such as bananas will heat up faster than firmer fruits such as apples. Grilling vegetables can also be an excellent way to incorporate more color and nutrition into your stereotypical cookout. Virtually all vegetables can be grilled – onions, portabella mushrooms, corn on the cob, eggplant, zucchini and asparagus. To add additional flavor to your grilled vegetables, marinate them for about one hour prior to grilling or you can brush them with some olive oil and your favorite seasonings. Nourish Interactive has two great articles on grilling fruits and vegetables.
Community farmers markets can present wonderful opportunities to get fresh produce and local ingredients. Planning ahead can go a long way in helping you make the most of your visit. Start by setting appropriate expectations as farmers markets differ significantly from place to place. Many farmers markets focus mainly on fresh produce while others may even have ready to eat food vendors set up. Check out vendors ahead of time by visiting the market’s website or plan more of an exploratory first visit. If you have specific needs, take a list and don’t hesitate to ask for help as you browse the offerings.
A slight shift in perspective can be the foundation for life-long healthy eating habits. Big changes happen through the small steps we take on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s adding 20 minutes of family biking to your day or getting your kids to try a bite of a new food, take the time to appreciate the small wins in your journey towards better health! Finding alternative approaches to kitchen challenges can be especially helpful. While your kids might be opposed to meatloaf, they might be thrilled to make a giant meatball! From breakfast sundaes to fruit and yogurt dippers, there are many recipes to help you reimagine and reintroduce foods to your family.
While nearly 85 million Americans have food allergies, it is important to understand the difference between food allergies and food intolerances. Food allergies are actual immunoglobin E (IgE) antibody responses to counteract an actual food allergy. Symptoms of food allergies can include itchiness, hives, swelling, trouble breathing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting or gagging. Some reactions to food allergies can be more severe or life-threatening. Food intolerances do not elicit IgE mediated responses, although the symptoms of intolerances may be similar to that of allergic reactions. In addition, things such as abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea also mimic symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, which makes identifying food intolerances that much more frustrating. If you suspect your body is having a reaction to a certain food, it is recommended you visit an allergist and/or a registered dietitian where you can receive more objective information as compared to something like a food sensitivity test.
Spring and summer are wonderfully easy seasons to adjust recipes for added freshness. Try making a traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich but substitute fresh strawberry slices and a touch of honey in for the jelly. Instead of fruit juices, use an ice cube tray to make fruit filled ice cubes that any kid will love! Use frozen cauliflower in lieu of ice in smoothies for a touch of added nutrients.
Strawberry-Cauliflower Smoothie Recipe
Combine 1 cup frozen cauliflower florets, 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, ½ fresh or frozen banana, 1 cup milk of choice, 1 Tbsp nut butter of choice and 1 Tbsp sweetener of choice (e.g., honey, stevia, coconut sugar). Blend ingredients together until smooth. Additional liquid may need to be added depending upon how many of your ingredients were frozen
The list of online social media outlets is extensive with Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok just to name a few. Topics streaming across these platforms encompass a wide breadth that includes food and nutrition. From more traditional food product advertising to unsolicited novice nutrition advice from nutrition “influencers,” the information trends toward having the ability to influence food making decisions. Studies report that social media can and does influence food choices with one in ten individuals noting social media effecting their buying behaviors. While these platforms can be seen as a more accessible way to share beneficial information, there are some downsides. The extensive amount of information from numerous resources makes it more difficult for consumers to sort through what is useful to them. Haphazard nutrition advice may be more detrimental in the long run. Posts highlighting “what I eat in a day,” for instance, encourage followers to follow a plan built for someone else when nutrition is highly individualized. This example post also encourages online comparison that can reduce self-esteem.
There is a lot of information regarding sugar. This abundance of data can be useful but does present challenges for clinicians who oftentimes must summarize useful materials that can serve many individuals.
Simply put, sugar, typically refers to all carbohydrates with a general molecular makeup of CnH2On. Sugar can be found in plants, animal milk or it can also be chemically manufactured. Sources of naturally occurring sugars include things like fruit and cow’s milk. Added sugars are those where any type of sugar or sweetener is added to a food item. Even if a naturally occurring sugar is added to a food product, that product must still claim to have added sugars.
The body metabolizes sugar for fuel where glucose is used as a quick energy source. When glucose is consumed, sugar levels in the blood rise, and the pancreas is stimulated to release insulin. Insulin triggers an uptake of sugar from the blood to cells. If sugar is consumed in tandem with fiber, up to 30% of that sugar may not be absorbed. This slows the rate of rising blood sugar, which has been linked to health benefits. Excess glucose that cannot be used immediately will be stored as glycogen in muscles or as lipids in fat tissue to be used later.
Glycogen is a chain of bonded glucose molecules that can be broken apart and used as a fuel source during physical activity. On average, the amount of stored glycogen in the body is 600g but can vary depending on diet, physical activity and body mass. Adequate carbohydrate consumption is required to replace glycogen that has been used during exercise. If glycogen is significantly depleted and not properly replenished, an individual can experience fatigue, weakness, impaired performance and hypoglycemia. Recommendations for daily carbohydrate consumption to replace glycogen range from 3-10g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight, depending on the level of daily physical activity.
Nourishing sick individuals can be very challenging. While nutrition and hydration are critical and can aid in healing, being under the weather is one of the more difficult times to obtain adequate intake. When people are sick, their appetites may be suppressed, they may be too lethargic to eat or physical discomforts such as sore throats may be a hindrance. Offering cold beverages with caloric content that can initially be sipped oftentimes encourages intake of more solid foods relatively quicker. Fruit popsicles, smoothies and chocolate milk are ideas that encourage helpful nutrition at a time when the body is working overtime. Pairing protein or fat with sugar in beverages can be key in avoiding loose, watery stools. Opting for bland food items typically allows for more gentle nutrition. It is also helpful to prepare either comfort or favorite foods, especially as appetite increases.
New Year’s resolutions are starting to get a makeover. Despite big industry players, individuals are recognizing that sexy ad campaigns touting easy health fixes just do not last over time. Specific to New Year’s resolutions, goal failure is almost always related to setting a lofty resolution that is attempted via a total lifestyle alteration. While dramatic adjustments to daily habits may offer results, they will be incredibly difficult to maintain because they are so different from “normal”. In the end, dramatic changes often revert back to old habits.
The most reliable way to truly form new healthy habits for behavior change is to make smaller, more measured changes. Consider an overall goal and find out what steps are needed to achieve it. From there, evidence suggests breaking those steps into incremental, manageable chunks. The idea is to aim for sustainability. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Much success has been found when people use “SMART” goals for incremental changes. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time sensitive. Maybe it’s adding in one additional workout this week or incorporating a fruit or veggie at breakfast 3 days weekly. Setting SMART goals provides clarity about what to strive for next.
It is also beneficial to celebrate any wins and reflect on challenges. After making small goals, take a moment to enjoy the success of achieving them. At the end of the week, recap on accomplishments and struggles, then use that reflection to set new goals. Building flexibility into goals, makes them more realistic to any barriers to change that may arise. Building a support system with family, friends, or health professionals also increases motivation and accountability, leading to more success achieving goals.
There’s an abundance of misinformation about health and nutrition. Look for evidence-based information that is from reputable sources and backed by research for the most effective and realistic information on how to achieve your specific goals. One study found the most common New Year’s resolutions are in the categories of physical health, weight loss and changes to eating habits. Seeking out a registered dietitian is an example of a reliable source for information for these categories!
Author: Caroline Hitchner