Quick Display Idea: Fruit

Adding a bit more fruit to an eating pattern is a great way to squeeze in a bunch of nutrients without excess calories, but some fruits are higher in calories than others. In fact, some fruits are even processed in such a way that they come with a boatload of empty calories and added sugars.

Help your audience navigate the fruit landscape with this quick and pretty display of fruit.

Arrange the following items in a highly-visible part of your space and make cards that list the calorie content of each item. For an activity, have people match the cards to the fruit. For a non-interactive display, simply place each card by the fruit it describes.

  • 1 fresh apple: 71 calories
  • 1 cup apple juice: 116 calories
  • 1 cup canned peaches in juice: 160 calories
  • 1/2 cup raisins: 216 calories
  • 1 cup canned peaches in heavy syrup: 251 calories

This display will show participants that dried fruit and canned fruit in heavy syrup are much higher in calories than their less-processed counterparts.

Variations and Additions:

  • To add more depth to the display, note the fiber content of each item. This is especially useful when comparing the apple and its juice, since a whole apple contains almost 3.5 grams of fiber, while the juice does not contain any fiber at all.
  • For a temporary display or discussion, place actual servings of all the fruit in this list in glass containers on a table. For a more lasting display, use images, food models, or empty packages instead. This can be done on a table or a bulletin board.
  • Instead of comparing total calories or calories per serving, you could also compare sugars, highlighting hidden sources of added sugars in each food.

For other great fruit activity and display ideas, don’t miss these amazing materials!

Quick Quiz: What is This?

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Quick Quiz: What food is blue/grey and bumpy on the outside, bright orange in the middle, and full of vitamin A?

On a recent visit to a local farmers’ market, I found this item in an outside bin with lots of others of various sizes.  It was on sale for half its regular price and it seemed that there weren’t many people buying whatever it was.

I carried one around while I was shopping and several people asked me what it was. Others asked if it was blue on the inside and what was I planning on doing with it.

Quiz Answer: This mystery veggie is a Blue Hubbard Squash!

It turned out that my mystery gourd was a Blue Hubbard Squash. However, when I asked the clerk what people do with it and how to cook it, she said she didn’t know.

Always inquisitive about food,  I bought it.

(Fortunately it was sold by the piece and not by the pound because the one I picked up weighed 13 pounds)!

When I got home, the squash remained a curiosity. My husband had fun asking about the “monster Smurf gourd,” while visiting neighbors were quick to google it. This veggie was definitely a conversation starter!

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So now let’s talk about the Blue Hubbard Squash. This winter squash is known for its ability to be stored in a cool, dry place for long time. Seed catalogs describe it as sweet, dry, and fine-grain. Some people consider this one of the “heirloom” varieties of winter squash, since it was first introduced in the early 1900s.

I admit that the hardest part was cutting into the hard outer shell of the squash.  I “cheated” a little by washing it completely on the outside and putting it whole in the microwave for 10 minutes. This softened the outside enough to allow me to cut into it.  After cutting it in half and cleaning out the seeds and strings, I experimented by baking part of it in the oven and then putting another part in the microwave. Both were equally good, though baking allowed for more caramelization of the natural sugars in the squash.

Hubbard is just one of many winter squash varieties that are readily available now. These vegetables contain fiber and are low in fat. Plus, squash with yellow-orange flesh are rich in vitamin A, which in turn is vital for healthy eyes, skin, and fighting infections. Diets rich in vitamin A may even help reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Winter squash are also a good source of vitamin C. These squash get their name from their ability to last through the winter in a cool dry place (not the refrigerator). Other varieties of winter squash include banana, delicata, turban, butternut, spaghetti, and acorn.

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We’ve gotten several meals from this huge Blue Hubbard. At first we just ate it as a vegetable on the side. Then I made some into a soup with apples (it was so sweet, no added sugar was needed). Finally, I added some to brown rice for a risotto-like meal and also put three packs of cooked squash into the freezer for use later.

Don’t want to bother with the cutting and cleaning? Many companies are now doing the work for you by selling raw winter squash already cut and ready-to-use. Here’s a food safety tip: once cut, the squash they should be kept refrigerated and used within a week.

Technically — or should I say botanically — squash are fruits, since the fruit is the part of the plant that develops from the flower and contains seeds. But we usually consider squash a vegetable because it’s more savory in flavor.

Finding a new (or old in this case) variety of squash can increase interest and perhaps add a few more items onto that list of foods you like. How will you incorporate new fruits and vegetables into your eating pattern?

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

As a bonus, here’s a free handout that features fun facts about the Blue Hubbard Squash!

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And here are a few great fruit and vegetable resources…

Sneak Peek from the Member Library

Have you heard about the Food and Health Membership program? It’s chock-full of fantastic resources for educators, including…

  • Access to all materials with a comprehensive, searchable database that is loaded with nutrition articles, chef-tested recipes, and engaging handouts.
  • White-label newsletters that you can use to create your own content.
  • Memorable handouts. Access all of these handouts in a library that is categorized for easy use.
  • Presentation and interactive project ideas for wellness fairs, classes, lunch-and-learn sessions, cooking demonstrations, and health fairs.
  • Chef-developed and exhaustively-tested recipes for meals that are both delicious and healthful.
  • The latest food news and scientific research. (Since we don’t accept outside funding or sponsorship of any kind, we can bring you the latest news, free of bias).
  • A translation tool that helps you translate all your articles for non-English-speaking clients. You can copy and paste to create handouts in all languages!
  • A food and health celebrations calendar that features monthly themes, food- and health-related holidays, seasonal produce, relevant clip art, handouts, and more.
  • Satisfaction, guaranteed!

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Today I want to share one of those popular articles with you. Lisa C. Andrews, MEd, RD, LD has put together a great guide for throwing and attending healthful holiday parties this year. Here’s what she has to say…

The holidays come upon us fast, and so can holiday weight gain… if you’re not careful. Below are some simple swaps to prevent “a little round belly that shakes when you laugh like a bowl full of jelly.”

1. Serve veggies and dip for appetizers. Pepper strips, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers look beautiful when arranged around a bowl of hummus or dip.

2. Swap plain Greek yogurt for sour cream in your favorite dips. Your guests likely won’t notice the change and they’ll get a nice dose of protein and calcium.

3. Sauté onions and garlic for stuffing in non-stick spray or low sodium broth in place of oil, butter, or margarine.

4. Try mashed sweet potatoes with orange juice, ginger, and cinnamon in place of marshmallows, brown sugar, and butter.

5. Use 1% or 2% milk in mashed potatoes in place of whole milk or heavy cream. This cuts calories and fat from the dish.

6. Keep selzter water on hand for “mocktails”. Pour over ice and add a twist of lime. Voila! No hangover.

7. Use whipped butter or light margarine in place of stick butter. This reduces fat and calories.

8. Use reduced-fat mayonnaise in place of full-fat mayonnaise in dips and dressings. Olive oil varieties provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
9. Try a salad dressing spritzer in place of bottled dressings. Blend olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and dijon mustard together for your own dressing.

10. Substitute jarred baby prunes, mashed bananas, applesauce, or plain yogurt for the fat in baked goods (such as quick breads).

11. Split desserts with your spouse, a friend, or other party guests. You may not be hungry for a full piece of pie, anyway.

12. Chop vegetables and add them to soups, stews, salads, and casseroles. This boosts the fiber and nutrient content, and also adds color to your dish.

13. Add seasonal fruit such as apples, pears, or pomegranates to salads in place of dried fruit. This adds texture and taste to your salad while reducing added sugar.

By Lisa C. Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

Remember, this article (and thousands of others) was only available to members until I decided to preview it today. If you liked what you saw, check out what a membership entails or just sign up today!

Oh, and here’s a printable version of the handout Lisa wrote…

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And here are some other holiday resources…

 

New Activity Ideas!

I love coming up with new activities that promote a balanced lifestyle and healthful choices! Today I want to share a few activities that make the most of the brand-new Steps of Health floor decals that just made their debut in the Nutrition Education Store.

These decals feature eight different steps that people can take to improve their health, including…

  • Move more
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Protein
  • Dairy
  • Sleep
  • Limit screen time

Their possible uses are endless, and these brand-new floor decals also come with a handout that details how those eight elements can help improve health. There’s even another handout that highlights some fun activities that are perfect for these materials, and that’s the handout I’d like to share today.

Enjoy!

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The Path to Health:

Arrange the feet so that they appear to be a trail across the front of the room, leading from the door into the classroom.

As people enter your classroom, have them walk the trail and note what is on each footprint.

Once everyone has walked the trail and then found a seat, explain that each person can now brainstorm a few ways to implement each element of the path to good health in their own lives.

Have all the participants use a piece of paper and a pen, then divide their page into eight sections, one for each footprint. Let them give each section a title (“Move More,” “Fruit,” “Vegetables,” etc), then allow everyone some time to brainstorm while you re-create the grid of eight footprints on a whiteboard or large piece of paper that you have posted at the front of the room.

Once everyone appears to be done brainstorming on their own, bring the class back together and have people share what they wrote. Write the ideas down on your own board and encourage everyone to add ideas to their own sheets if the new options resonate with them.

Health Fair Decorations:

These decals make excellent decorations for a health fair booth. Consider using these little feet to create a path to your booth from the entrance, or arrange them in an arc around your booth so that people can make a full circuit of what you offer.

These creative materials are sure to help your booth stand out from the crowd at the next wellness fair.

Display the Path to Health:

These stickers don’t have to stay on the floor! Put together a colorful bulletin board and use these feet to join the ideas of good nutrition and regular physical activity.

You can use a grid format à la the “Path to Health” activity, or you can build a path along the center of the board and write out details/illustrate each key point along the sides of each foot.

Here’s a printable handout of these activity ideas. How will you use yours?

stepsofhealthfloordecalsactivityLooking for other fun additions to the Nutrition Education Store? There are lots! Here are a few of my favorites…

Sneak Peek from the Member Site: Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Today I want to share one of my favorite articles from the member-exclusive October edition of the Communicating Food for Health Newsletter.

In this handout, Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD and Lisa Andrews, RD team up to offer fun ways to help your clients improve their eating patterns and eat more fruits and vegetables. Check it out!

Are you in a fruit and vegetable slump? It’s easy to get stuck eating the same things over and over. Green salad, tomatoes, carrots. Apples, bananas, grapes. Sound familiar? It may be time to mix things up!

Make your own salad bar. Buy at least two kinds of salad greens (baby spinach and romaine, for example) and an assortment of other raw veggies. If time is an issue, go with pre-washed, pre-cut items. Every night at dinner, bring out the assortment of greens and veggies and let everyone make their own salad.

Roast and grill. The pickiest of eaters become veggie-lovers when they try something like oven-roasted Brussels sprouts or grilled fresh asparagus. Roasting and grilling bring out flavors and textures that raw or steamed vegetables just don’t offer.

Embrace the exotic. While we usually recommend that you buy local produce that’s in season, there’s a world of produce out there (like cardoon!). Trying something more exotic once in awhile won’t hurt. Ask the produce manager where you shop to point you toward unique items. Stop by ethnic grocery stores to see what they offer. Where I live, there’s a huge grocery store that carries an endless array of fruits and vegetables from all over the world. Take a short “field trip” and bring home something new to try.

Find fancier frozen veggies. If your freezer is full of peas, carrots, and corn, branch out to other vegetables! Again, this is where an ethnic grocery store comes in handy. They might have things you don’t usually serve. Some specialty stores, like Trader Joe’s, have items like frozen grilled cauliflower. Give these new tastes a try!

Get out of your fruit and veggie slump today by trying something new!

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

BONUS: Kids in a Slump? Getting Your Kids to Eat More Fruits & Veggies

We asked Lisa Andrews, a registered dietitian and mother of two, how she gets kids to eat more produce. Here are a few of her tips:

1. Take your kids when you buy food. While most parents cringe at the idea, it’s important for kids to know where their food comes from. Take them to farmer’s markets and have them help select beans, tomatoes, corn, peaches and other seasonal fruits and vegetables. They may be more likely to try it if they picked it themselves.

2. Invite your kids to help you cook. Kids can clean and snap beans or rinse fruit to be served. This may help them become more confident in the kitchen and more likely to eat food they have prepared themselves.

3. Don’t force food. Encourage your child to try one bite to see if he/she likes it. Don’t reward with treats as it may set up emotional eating later, or your child may feel obligated to eat the new food just to get to dessert.

You can find more from Lisa at www.SoundBitesNutrition.com. Look for her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/soundbitesnutritionllc) and Twitter (@nutrigirl).

Here’s a free PDF handout of this article that you can use however you’d like!

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There are lots of great materials that would work in tandem with this article. For example, check out this Rainbow Salad Health Fair Display Kit — it’s a perfect way to capitalize on this lesson and get your clients to make healthful choices!

Here are a few items from that kit…

Make Your Salad a Rainbow!

Did you know that four final rules for implementing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) were just announced?

In a nutshell, the USDA finalized its rules for nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, including breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

According to a press release sent out by the USDA, “As a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation, the rules will ensure that children have access to healthy snacks and that nutrition standards for the foods marketed and served in schools are consistent. The rules will also promote integrity across the school meals programs.”

Want to help communicate the key nutrition lessons that are central to these new rules?

Check out this fantastic new salad bar sign!

After all, making healthful food available is only half the battle. We need to make it appealing to kids too.

 

This new salad bar sign is a better design and at a lower price than the previous version, and the video above offers some great inspiration on how to use it.

And that’s just the beginning. Here are some other “eat from the rainbow” resources that can help make healthful foods appealing to kids of all ages…

And here’s a free printable handout about eating a variety of healthful foods…

Rainbow Salad Handout

Food Safety at Pick-Your-Own Fields

I can make a long list of why pick-your-own fruit and vegetable fields are great. After all, they provide local foods that are as fresh as possible. Other positive aspects include exercise, family activities, fun, education, great prices, and a chance to teach children about where our food comes from.

I could also add a couple negatives to the list. For example, you could be exposed to bacteria and microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses. The last thing you want to do at a pick-your-own market is pick up your own (or your neighbors’) germs along with the produce.

GAPs

One way that pick-your-own fields are helping to reduce foodborne illness risks is by putting up a sign that recognizes Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs).  The signs encourage customers to do their part in keeping the food safe. Specifics included:

  • Wash your hands before you pick
  • Make sure children wash their hands, too
  • Wash the fruit before eating it

These tips may sound really simple and basic, but washing your hands both before and after going into the field can help prevent contamination.

Most people think to wash after, but not before picking. Washing your hands before going to the field helps keep the produce clean and avoids possible contamination from hands that have not been washed after going to the bathroom, after smoking, after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing. All of these things could make your hands contaminated and then unknowingly you could contaminate the produce. It’s not just your food you’re protecting, but it’s the next customers’ food too!

Wash Your Hands

I made a comment to one of the women working the scales at the market, telling her I thought that that was a great sign and that I appreciated the efforts made to keep the produce safe.  I asked if many folks did wash their hands. She said “sadly, most don’t and it’s really important, but [she] can’t make people do it.”

Some savvy farmers (like the one I visited) are also providing portable sinks that make it easy for folks to wash their hands.

To me these signs and the sinks are sending a positive message about this farm — a message of concern for our health. Contamination can take place anywhere along the field-to-fork continuum. By following GAPs during growing, harvesting, sorting, packaging, and the storage of fresh fruits and vegetables, our farmers are working to keep our food safe.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

Here’s a printable handout with the key points of today’s post…

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And if you’d like more resources to support food safety lessons, don’t miss the following options…

Supporting Healthy Eating Patterns: Walking the Talk

We have a wonderful group of neighbors in a dining group, and each month we gather for drinks before going to a local restaurant for dinner. Each couple takes their turn hosting the get-together, and some folks go all out and serve a buffet of appetizers and other nibbles. In fact, quite often the guests complain that they’ve eaten too much before dinner. I often wonder why people (even those that are usually very mindful of what they personally eat)  always seem to pull out the most unhealthful, high calorie, and high fat foods they can find when they have people over.

Slice that Melon

This month it was our turn to host. Everyone knows that I personally try to eat and serve healthful foods when possible. The neighbors also know that I frequently write and teach about healthful eating. So I really felt that I needed to “walk the talk” at this gathering.

The pressure was on. What to offer?

I wanted something in addition to the ubiquitous carrots and celery sticks that often make up the “healthful option” at gatherings. To me, fruit was the obvious answer and watermelon was plentiful. I’d seen some Pinterest photos of “the right way to cut a melon,” so I thought I’d give it a try.

Sliced Watermelon, Pinterest Style

The concept was to cut the watermelon into sticks, leaving the rind attached so that guests could use their fingers when eating the “spears” of fruit.  My version didn’t look as good as those I saw in the photos online, but it was well-received by our guests!

Here are a few things I noticed about this particular way to prepare watermelon, in case you’d like to try it too…

  • There were pieces near the edges that were more white rind than fruit—so I pitched them.
  • Don’t try to move your watermelon after cutting it!

Watermelon Spears

One of the key messages from the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans is “everyone has a role in supporting healthy eating patterns.” This doesn’t only have to be in governmental, organizational, or educational settings. We can always encourage healthful eating patterns whenever possible, even closer to home with family and friends.

It’s always a challenge to “walk the talk” For those who try… keep up the good work!

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

Here are some other resources that can help you walk the talk at work and at home…

And here’s a free printable handout with instructions on how to make this simple summer appetizer…

Watermelon Appetizer

Watermelon Basics

TendrilsJuly is National Watermelon Month… celebrate in style!

Nutrition: All melons are low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. They’re also sodium free.

Watermelon is a good source of Vitamins A and C. It also provides vitamin B6 and potassium. Pink watermelon contains the potent carotenoid antioxidant, lycopene, and has higher concentrations of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable, including tomatoes. A two cup serving of watermelon contains only 80 calories and counts for two of the eight servings of fruits and vegetables recommended per day.

Picking a watermelon: A good watermelon should be symmetrical, heavy for its size, and firm with no cuts, dents, or bruises. Look for the pale or buttery yellow “belly.” Tendrils (like pig tails) near the fruit stem should be dry and brown. When selecting a cut watermelon, the more red flesh and less white rind you see, the riper the melon is. White seeds usually indicate that the melon was picked too early. Although so-called “seedless” watermelons have far fewer seeds than the seeded varieties, they generally contain at least a few soft and pale seeds.

Wash that melon!Storage: Uncut melons can be stored for up to 2 weeks at room temperature depending on ripeness. Once cut, store all melon in a tightly closed container — its aroma easily mingles with other foods. Cut slices or chunks of melon should never be left out or held at room temperature for an extended period of time. Use cut melon within 3-4 days.

Safety: Bacteria can adhere to the surface of a melon and be passed to the flesh when the fruit is cut or handled. The melon’s skin should be washed and scrubbed with water, even if you don’t eat the rind or skin. If selecting a cut melon, be sure that it has been refrigerated during display.

Looking for some other articles or ideas to use to write or teach about watermelon?  Here a past post from the archives that can help: To Thump or Not to Thump? A Watermelon Quiz

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

And here are some other fun summer resources…

Last but not least, here’s a new printable handout that you can use as you see fit!

Watermelon Month