Monday, April 30, 2012

Cucumber Yogurt Dip

Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
Yield: 6 servings

2 large cucumbers
2 cups plain yogurt, low-fat
½ cup sour cream, non-fat
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup baby carrots

1. Peel, seed, and grate one cucumber. Slice other cucumber and set aside.
2. Mix grated cucumber, yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, dill, and garlic in a serving bowl. Chill for 1 hour.
3. Arrange tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, and carrots on a colorful platter.
4. Serve with dip.

Source: SNAP-Ed Connection

Friday, April 27, 2012

Party Time Pasta

Serving Size: 1 cup
Yield: 6 servings
Time: 30 minutes

1/2 pound turkey, lean ground
1 teaspoon paprika
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) tomatoes, crushed
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth, reduced sodium
2 cups pasta, bow-tie, uncooked
3 cups frozen vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, thawed
Tasty Topping:

1/2 cup chopped fresh or dried parsley
1/4 cup bread crumbs, seasoned, dry
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add ground turkey and paprika. Cook and stir until meat is brown and no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in tomatoes, chicken broth and pasta. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until pasta is almost tender, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Remove lid. Place vegetables on top of pasta. Replace lid. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Prepare the Tasty Topping. Mix parsley, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over vegetables in skillet. Cover and let sit for 3 minutes before serving.

Per Recipe: $ 7.38
Per Serving: $ 1.23

Source: Adapted from: Kids…Get Cooking! California Children’s 5-a-Day Power Play Campaign California Department of Health Services

California Department of Health Services

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Measuring Success - Before and After Measurements

At the beginning of the contest we discussed how measuring inches lost or gained can be another way to measure success during your weight loss journey. Take some time now to measure yourself again and see what areas you have improved in. You might be surprised with the improvements you have made even if you haven't lost the number of lbs. you had hoped you would during the contest.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Healthy Weight Tips Part 4

Be active while sitting.
  • If you spend a lot of time sitting, either watching TV or working at a desk, get more active!
  • Aim for 2½ hours of physical activity each week.
  • Physical activity not only can help you lose weight or stay at a healthy weight, it can:
    • Improve your blood pressure and cholesterol
    • Lower your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes
    • Relieve stress

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Fiber is best known for helping to keep food moving efficiently through your body. This is only one of the many ways fiber contributes to good health. Fiber helps prevent:
  • Heart disease: Fiber may aid in the prevention of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol.
  • Diabetes: Fiber helps control blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.
  • Digestive Problems: Adequate amounts of fiber from foods can help prevent constipation and hemorrhoids.
  • Weight Gain: A high-fiber eating plan is lower in calories and tends to make you feel full faster.
Consuming enough fiber may be easier than you think. Fiber is found in whole grains, beans and fruits and vegetables. The recommended daily amount of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. After age 50, your daily fiber needs drops to 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men.

You can meet your daily fiber needs with 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables every day, along with whole grains and beans. Add vegetables to stews and casseroles and add oats to meat loaf, breads and cookies. Add fruit to cereal or eat it as a snack and in salads.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Chicken and Black Bean Tacos

Serves: 6 (2 tacos per serving)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

12 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1 lb. ground chicken or turkey, ground without skin
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp. bottled minced garlic
15 ounces can low sodium black beans, undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes (optional)
1/4 cup shredded lettuce (optional)
1/4 cup sheddred low fat cheddar cheese (optional)
6 Tbsp.  salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Wrap tortilla in foil. Place in oven while preparing chicken mixture.
In a large skillet, cook ground chicken, onion, and garlic over medium high heat about 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Place mixture in a colander and rinse under hot water. Drain well. Wipe skillet with a paper towel. Return mixture to skillet. Stir in beans, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir over medium high heat until heated through, about 5 minutes. Spoon mixture over half of each corn tortilla.; fold over. Add tomatoes, cheese and salsa if desired.

Nutrition Facts: (per serving)
Calories: 287
Protein: 26 g
Carbohydrates: 36 g
Cholesterol: 44 mg
Sodium: 235 mg
Total Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g

Source: American Heart Association - Quick & Easy Cookbook pg. 139

Friday, April 20, 2012

Healthy Weight Tips Part 3

Plan to have healthy snacks.
  • Snacking is not always a bad thing. It just depends on what the snack is.
  • Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time and keep them handy when you’re on the go.
  • Healthy snacks include raw vegetables, fruit, a small handful of nuts, or unbuttered popcorn. Look at snacks as a way to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Understand recent weight gain.
  • Sometimes people gain weight in a short period of time because they are going through hard times (death, divorce, or job changes). They don’t have the time or energy to watch what they eat or to get regular physical activity.
  • Are you gaining weight because you are trying to quit smoking?
Understand how weight loss works.
  • If you have tried losing weight but weren’t able to keep it off, don’t feel bad!
  • Most diets lead to some weight loss, but keeping the weight off is much harder.
  • Think about when you tried to lose weight: what worked and what didn’t work?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

7 Wonders of Water

Stay Slimmer With Water
Trying to lose weight? Water revs up metabolism and helps you feel full.Replace calorie-laden beverages with water, and drink a glass before meals to help you feel fuller. Drinking more water also helps amp up metabolism - especially if your glass is icy cold. Your body must work to warm the water up, burning a few extra calories in the process.

Water Boosts Your Energy
If you’re feeling drained and depleted, get a pick-me-up with water. Dehydration makes you feel fatigued. Water helps the blood transport oxygen and other essential nutrients to your cells. If you’re getting enough water, your heart also doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body.

Lower Stress With Water
85% of your brain tissue is water. If you’re dehydrated, both your body and your mind will be stressed. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already a little dehydrated. To keep stress levels down, keep a glass of water at your desk or tote a sports bottle and sip regularly.

Build Muscle Tone With Water
Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramping and lubricates joints in the body. When you’re well hydrated, you can exercise longer and stronger without "hitting the wall."

Nourish Your Skin
Fine lines and wrinkles are deeper when you’re dehydrated. Water is nature’s own beauty cream. Drinking water hydrates skin cells and plumps them up, making your face look younger.It also flushes out impurities and improves circulation and blood flow, leaving your face clean, clear, and glowing.

Stay Regular With Water
Along with fiber, water is essential to good digestion.Water helps dissolve waste particles and passes them smoothly through your digestive tract.If you’re dehydrated, your body absorbs all the water, leaving your colon dry and making it more difficult to pass waste.

Water Reduces Kidney Stones
The rate of painful kidney stones is rising because people - including children - aren't drinking enough water. Water dilutes the salts and minerals in your urine that form the solid crystals known as kidney stones. Kidney stones can't form in diluted urine, so reduce your risk with plenty of water!

Web MD

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Healthy Weight Tips Part 2

Get rid of guilt.
  • Feeling guilty about eating a “bad” food or eating too much isn’t helpful.
  • Guilt is a type of negative thinking, and you can overcome it!
  • Instead, make a list of the foods that you feel most guilty about eating, and replace them with healthier foods or eat them less often and in smaller amounts.
  • Stop buying the foods that make you feel guilty. You can’t eat them if you don’t have them in the house.
Eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you’re full.
  • Sit at a table to eat.
  • Slow down! Eating slowly lets you enjoy your food and gives your brain a chance to figure out when you’re full.
  • Put your fork down between most bites to help you slow down.
  • Pay attention to portion size.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Smart Fruit and Veggie Snacks

You probably already know fruits and vegetables are good for health. However, you may not know just how good produce is for your kids. Naturally nutrient-rich and mostly fat-free, fruit and veggie snacks help children close critical nutrient gaps without adding extra calories.
Produce helps kids get the potassium, magnesium and fiber most American youth are missing. Fruits and vegetables are also rich sources of the antioxidants that help in the prevention of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. For children and adults alike, eating more fruit and vegetable snacks is one of the smartest food moves you can make.

Place Fresh Produce in Sight

It’s no secret fresh fruit and vegetables provide a nutrition boost for everyone in your family. But, how can you get kids to eat more for snacks?

The answer is in plain sight. That’s right; just keep bright, colorful produce where everyone can easily grab something for a snack-on-the-run. Keep a bowl of fresh, just ripe whole fruit in the center of your kitchen or dining table. Keep small bags of fresh veggie snacks (carrots, celery sticks and broccoli florets) at eye level in the fridge.

Try Dried Variations

Dried fruit is the perfect snack for on-the-go kids. It doesn’t need refrigeration and it never makes a squishy mess in backpacks. Choose dried fruit with little or no added sugar: apples, apricots, blueberries and raisins are often dried with just their own natural sweetness. Add dried fruit to trail mix or to fresh fruit salads for a splash of color and a healthy dose of nutrients. Dried beans and peas count as vegetables, so look for crunchy dried soybean, pea and chickpea snacks.

Stock Your Pantry with Canned Choices

Canned fruits make appealing, quick and inexpensive snacks. Enjoy fruits canned in juice or, like natural applesauce, made without added sugar. Divide larger cans into smaller portions in reusable plastic containers or buy the convenient single-serve containers of canned fruits, such as mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks and applesauce.

Convenient, inexpensive and packed with nutrition, canned beans make zesty snack dips when mixed with other vegetables, such as canned corn and spicy salsa.

Cut Costs with Frozen Options

Frozen fruits are often less expensive but just as nutritious as the fresh varieties. Purchase frozen strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in large bags; then use small handfuls for yogurt toppings or as smoothie ingredients. Kids love frozen bars made from 100 percent fruit and juice (buy commercial or make-your-own) as a sweet and refreshing treat on hot days. Like their canned cousins, frozen vegetables are delicious. Try microwaving quickly and adding to bean and salsa dip combinations.

Top 10 Reasons to Eat MORE Fruits & Vegetables

Why eat MORE fruits and veggies?
  1. Color & Texture. Fruits and veggies add color, texture … and appeal … to your plate.
  2. Convenience. Nutritious in any form - fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice, so they’re ready when you are!
  3. Fiber. Fruits and veggies provide fiber that helps fill you up and keeps your digestive system happy.
  4. Low in Calories. Fruits and veggies are naturally low in calories.
  5. May Reduce Disease Risk. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
  6. Vitamins & Minerals. Fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals that help you feel healthy and energized.
  7. Variety. Fruits and veggies are available in an almost infinite variety…there’s always something new to try!
  8. Quick, Natural Snack. Fruits and veggies are nature’s treat and easy to grab for a snack.
  9. Fun to Eat! Some crunch, some squirt, some you peel … some you don’t, and some grow right in your own backyard!
  10. Taste Great!
American Dietetic Association
More Matters

Additional Resources:
American Cancer Society

Monday, April 16, 2012

Italian Broccoli Pasta

Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups
Yield: 4 servings
Time: Preparation time - 10 minutes. Cooking time - 15 minutes.

2 cups fettucini noodles, uncooked
3 Tablespoons chopped green onion (also called scallions)
2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 can (14.5 ounce) stewed tomatoes
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook noodles according to package instructions (do not include oil or salt), and drain.
2. Spray a medium skillet with nonstick cooking spray; stir-fry onion and broccoli for 3 minutes over medium heat.
3. Add seasonings (but not the Parmesan cheese) and tomatoes; simmer until heated through.
4. Spoon vegetable mixture over noodles and top with Parmesan cheese.

Per Recipe: $ 3.53
Per Serving: $ 0.88

Adapted from: Discover the Secret to Healthy Living California 5-a-Day—For Better Health! Campaign California Department of Health Services

California Department of Health Services

Friday, April 13, 2012

Liven Up Your Meals with Fruits and Vegetables

10 tips to improve your meals with vegetables and fruits

Discover the many benefits of adding vegetables and fruits to your meals. They are low in fat and calories, while providing fiber and other key nutrients. Most Americans should eat more than 3 cups—and for some, up to 6 cups—of vegetables and fruits each day. Vegetables and fruits don’t just add nutrition to meals. They can also add color, flavor, and texture. Explore these creative ways to bring healthy foods to your table.
  1. Fire up the grill. Use the grill to cook vegetables and fruits. Try grilling mushrooms, carrots, peppers, or potatoes on a kabob skewer. Brush with oil to keep them from drying out. Grilled fruits like peaches, pineapple, or mangos add great flavor to a cookout.
  2. Expand the flavor of your casseroles. Mix vegetables such as sauteed onions, peas, pinto beans, or tomatoes into your favorite dish for that extra flavor.
  3. Planning something Italian? Add extra vegetables to your pasta dish. Slip some peppers, spinach, red beans, onions, or cherry tomatoes into your traditional tomato sauce. Vegetables provide texture and low-calorie bulk that satisfies. 
  4. Get creative with your salad. Toss in shredded carrots, strawberries, spinach, watercress, orange segments, or sweet peas for a flavorful, fun salad. 
  5. Salad bars aren't just for salads. Try eating sliced fruit from the salad bar as your dessert when dining out. This will help you avoid any baked desserts that are high in calories.
  6. Get in on the stir-frying fun. Try something new! Stir-fry your veggies—like broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, or green beans—for a quick-and-easy addition to any meal. 
  7. Add them to your sandwiches. Whether it is a sandwich or wrap, vegetables make great additions to both. Try sliced tomatoes, romaine lettuce, or avocado on your everyday sandwich or wrap for extra flavor.
  8. Be creative with your baked goods. Add apples, bananas, blueberries, or pears to your favorite muffin recipe for a treat. 
  9. Make a tasty fruit smoothie. For dessert, blend strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries with frozen bananas and 100% fruit juice for a delicious frozen fruit smoothie.
  10. Liven up an omelet. Boost the color and flavor of your morning omelet with vegetables. Simply chop, saute, and add them to the egg as it cooks. Try combining different vegetables, such as mushrooms, spinach, onions, or bell peppers.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Salmon Patties

Serving Size: 1/9 of recipe
Yield: 9 servings

1 can (15½ ounces) salmon, drained 1 cup whole-grain, crushed cereal or crackers 2 large eggs, lightly beaten cup 1% milk 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Use a fork or clean fingers to flake salmon until very fine.
2. Crumble cereal or crackers into crumbs.
3. Add cereal or cracker crumbs, eggs, milk, and pepper to salmon.
4. Mix thoroughly.
5. Shape into 9 patties.
6. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
7. Carefully brown both the sides until patty is thoroughly cooked.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Smart Shopping Tips for Fruits and Vegetables

10 Tips for Affordable Fruits and Vegetables

        It is possible to fit vegetables and fruits into any budget. Making nutritious choices does not have to hurt your wallet. Getting enough of these foods promotes health and can reduce your risk of certain diseases. There are many low-cost ways to meet your fruit and vegetable needs.
        1. Celebrate the season. Use fresh vegetables and fruits that are in season. They are easy to get, have more flavor, and are usually less expensive. Your local farmer’s market is a great source of seasonal produce. 
        2. Why pay full price? Check the local newspaper, online, and at the store for sales, coupons, and specials that will cut food costs. Often, you can get more for less by visiting larger grocery stores (discount grocers if available). 
        3. Stick to your list. Plan out your meals ahead of time and make a grocery list. You will save money by buying only what you need. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Shopping after eating will make it easier to pass on the tempting snack foods. You’ll have more of your food budget for vegetables and fruits. 
        4. Try canned or frozen. Compare the price and the number of servings from fresh, canned, and frozen forms of the same veggie or fruit. Canned and frozen items may be less expensive than fresh. For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label. 
        5. Buy small amounts frequently. Some fresh vegetables and fruits don’t last long. Buy small amounts more often to ensure you can eat the foods without throwing any away.
        6. Buy in bulk when items are on sale. For fresh vegetables or fruits you use often, a large size bag is the better buy. Canned or frozen fruits or vegetables can be bought in large quantitites when they are on sale, since they last much longer. 
        7. Store brands = savings. Opt for store brands when possible. You will get the same or similar product for a cheaper price. If your grocery store has a membership card, sign up for even more savings.
        8. Keep it simple. Buy vegetables and fruits in their simplest form. Pre-cut, pre-washed, ready-to-eat, and processed foods are convenient, but often cost much more than when purchased in their basic forms.
        9. Plant your own. Start a garden—in the yard or a pot on the deck—for fresh, inexpensive, flavorful additions to meals. Herbs, cucumbers, peppers, or tomatoes are good options for beginners. Browse through a local library or online for more information on starting a garden.
        10. Plan and cook smart. Prepare and freeze vegetable soups, stews, or other dishes in advance. This saves time and money. Add leftover vegetables to casseroles or blend them to make soup. Overripe fruit is great for smoothies or baking.

        Tuesday, April 10, 2012

        Lentil Chili

        Serving Size: 1 cup
        Yield: 6 servings

        ½ pound ground beef (Or extra lean beef to reduce fat) 1½ cups chopped onion 1 clove garlic, crushed 2 cups cooked, drained lentils 1 can (29 ounce) tomatoes, diced or crushed 1 tablespoon chili powder ½ teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

        1. In a large saucepan, brown beef over medium-high heat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces. Drain fat.
        2. Reduce to medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook on medium heat, until softened.
        3. Add lentils, tomatoes, chili powder, and cumin. Cook on low heat for about 1 hour until flavors are blended.
        4. Serve with your favorite chili toppings.

        Source: SNAP-Ed Connection

        Monday, April 9, 2012

        Healthy Eating for Vegetarians

        10 Tips for Vegetarians

        A vegetarian eating pattern can be a healthy option. The key is to consume a variety of foods and the
        right amount of foods to meet your calorie and nutrient needs.
        1. Think about protein. Your protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant foods. Sources of protein for vegetarians include beans and peas, nuts, and soy products (such as tofu, tempeh). Lacto-ovo vegetarians also get protein from eggs and dairy foods. 
        2. Bone up on sources of calcium. Calcium is used for building bones and teeth. Some vegetarians consume dairy products, which are excellent sources of calcium. Other sources of calcium for vegetarians include calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage), tofu made with calcium sulfate, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and orange juice, and some dark-green leafy vegetables (collard, turnip, and mustard greens; and bok choy).
        3. Make simple changes. Many popular main dishes are or can be vegetarian—such as pasta primavera, pasta with marinara or pesto sauce, veggie pizza, vegetable lasagna, tofu-vegetable stir-fry, and bean burritos.
        4. Enjoy a cookout. For barbecues, try veggie or soy burgers, soy hot dogs, marinated tofu or tempeh, and fruit kabobs.Grilled veggies are great, too! 
        5. Include beans and peas. Because of their high nutrient content, consuming beans and peas is recommended for everyone, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Enjoy some vegetarian chili, three bean salad, or split pea soup. Make a hummus filled pita sandwich.
        6. Try different veggie versions. A variety of vegetarian products look—and may taste—like their non-vegetarian counterparts but are usually lower in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol. For breakfast, try soy-based sausage patties or links. For dinner, rather than hamburgers, try bean burgers or falafel (chickpea patties).
        7. Make some small changes at restaurants. Most restaurants can make vegetarian modifications to menu items by substituting meatless sauces or nonmeat items, such as tofu and beans for meat, and adding vegetables or pasta in place of meat. Ask about available vegetarian options.
        8. Nuts make great snacks. Choose unsalted nuts as a snack and use them in salads or main dishes. Add almonds, walnuts, or pecans instead of cheese or meat to a green salad.
        9. Get your vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is naturally found only in animal products. Vegetarians should choose fortified foods such as cereals or soy products, or take a vitamin B12 supplement if they do not consume any animal products. Check the Nutrition Facts label for vitamin B12 in fortified products.
        10. Find a vegetarian pattern for you. Go to and check appendices 8 and 9 of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 for vegetarian adaptations of the USDA food patterns at 12 calorie levels.

        Friday, April 6, 2012

        20 Minute Chicken Creole

        Serving Size: 1 cup
        Yield: 8 servings

        1 tablespoon vegetable oil 2 whole chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into ½-inch strips
        1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes with juice 1 cup chili sauce, low sodium 1 large green pepper, chopped 2 celery stalks, chopped 1 small onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 teaspoon dried basil 1 teaspoon dried parsley ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
        ¼ teaspoon salt

        1. In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.
        2. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
        3. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining ingredients.
        4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
        5. Serve over hot, cooked rice or whole-wheat pasta.

        Source: SNAP-Ed Connection

        Wednesday, April 4, 2012

        Caribbean Casserole

        Serving Size: 1 cup
        Yield: 10 servings

        1 medium onion, chopped ½ green pepper, diced 1 tablespoon canola oil 1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes 1 teaspoon oregano leaves ½ teaspoon garlic powder 1½ cups instant brown rice, uncooked 1 can (16 ounces) black beans, undrained (or beans of your choice)

        1. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat.
        2. Add onion and green pepper in canola oil, in a large pan, and cook until tender. Do not brown. 3. Add tomatoes, beans (include liquid from both), oregano, and garlic powder.
        4. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice and cover. 5. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. 6. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

        Source: SNAP-Ed Connection

        Monday, April 2, 2012

        Healthy Weight Tips Part 1

        Avoid emotional eating.
        • Don’t let strong feelings turn into weight gain.
        • Figure out what your eating triggers are.
        • Pay attention to how much and what you are eating.
        Don’t skip meals.
        • Skipping meals does not help you lose weight!
        • Your body needs a certain number of calories every day.
        • If you skip a meal, you will probably snack or eat more later.
        • Try to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.