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…

PickYourOwn

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

Confessions of a Juice Drinker

RIMG6810You would have thought I had committed a heinous crime when I admitted to a group of women that I frequently drink orange juice in the morning.  I know that eating whole fruit is a better choice, but I like juice.

Their astonished comments were accompanied by what they thought was a known fact that there was lots of sugar in juice. OK I admit this. One eight-ounce glass of juice contains 21 grams of sugar. However, if you drink only pure 100% juice, then that sugar is all from the fruit itself, not added sugar.

After their admonishments, I’m still trying to convince myself that drinking juice is acceptable. One of my rationalizations is that I make an effort to seek out juice that has added calcium and vitamin D. At least I’m getting those extra nutrients.

I also admit that I like lots of pulp. The pulp in orange juice is real orange pulp, but it doesn’t amount to any significant fiber. That said, I still like it. The majority of orange juice sold is pulp free, so the pulp is actually removed at the beginning of the process and then added back into juices that have pulp.

It takes about three oranges to make a cup of juice. Juice allows for a lot of calories to be consumed quickly. There are 71 calories in one orange, yet 8 ounces of orange juice provides 112 calories. If I ate three oranges instead of drinking the juice, I certainly would feel a lot fuller! Part of that is due to the three grams of dietary fiber in each orange.RIMG6848

It seems I’m not the only person who likes juice. According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 1/3 of all fruit consumption in America is in the form of juice. The most commonly consumed fruit juices are orange, apple, and grape.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we “shift to mostly whole fruits, in nutrient-dense forms.” The guidelines also say that “although fruit juice can be part of a healthy eating pattern, it is lower than whole fruit in dietary fiber and when consumed in excess can contribute extra calories. Therefore, at least half of the recommended amount of fruit eaten daily should come from whole fruits.” They also go on to say that when juices are consumed, they should be 100% juice, without added sugar.

Here’s a tip when it comes to children and juice: the amount of fruit juice allowed in the USDA Food Patterns for young children aligns with the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Young children should consume no more than 4 to 6 ounces of 100% fruit juice per day.

RIMG6844Let’s end with a comparison:

Whole fruit: offers fewer calories for the satiety it provides, features more dietary fiber, takes longer to eat and therefore provides more eating satisfaction

Juice: offers a quick and easy way to reach daily fruit servings and could be enriched with needed nutrients

Here are the take home messages:

  • Seek moderation in all things.
  • Watch the amount of juice consumed.
  • Make that “shift” to whole fruit whenever possible.

Some habits are hard to break.

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

PS Here’s a printable handout that features the highlights of today’s post.

Juice

Shopping with MyPlate: Activity Guide

MyPlate is more than a fantastic guide to healthy dining! Much of its advice can also be applied to healthy shopping. You may remember the post Shopping with MyPlate: A Handout. The leader guide that goes with that handout is too good not to share, so here it is! How will you use your copy?

Shopping with MyPlate: Activity Ideas

Make a List! (Kids) Explain that, in order to have meals like MyPlate, people have to fill their shopping carts like MyPlate too. Find out who has gone to the grocery store with their parents. What was the experience like? Have each child pretend that they are in charge of meals for the week and plan a grocery list. What do they need to do in order to get food for healthful meals? Feel free to use the shopping list handout included in this lesson. Come back together as a group and discuss the lists.

Grocery Tour: (Adults) Take a field trip to the grocery store. Discuss the layout of the store and how to find foods that match MyPlate’s advice. Spend some time on Nutrition Facts labels, demonstrating how to evaluate sodium content, added sugars, saturated fat ratios, etc. Offer participants a chance to get groceries, and discuss what they found. Why did they pick what they picked?

MyPlate Shopping Display:

A display can help flesh out this lesson. Consider some of the following ideas…

Interactive Display: Put up a large, blank MyPlate image inside a picture of a shopping cart. Have adults write down healthful foods that would fit in each group. Kids can also draw pictures of those foods.

Shopping Tips: Center a picture of MyPlate on your board, then surround it with word bubbles full of shopping tips that will make grocery trips easier and result in more healthful purchases.

Shopping List Samples: Write out a list of healthful foods, dividing them into MyPlate categories. This can serve as shopping inspiration.

This post is excerpted from the MyPlate Workbook. If you like what you see, don’t miss this free printable leader guide!

MyPlate Shopping Leader Guide

We’re here to help you look your very best right now, so here are some other amazing MyPlate resources from the Nutrition Education Store

Nutrition from A to Z

It’s time for an exclusive look at the handout that accompanies our awesome Nutrition from A to Z poster! How will you use your free copy?

A is for Apples. An apple a day may be a cliche, but cliches exist for a reason. You see, apples are naturally fat-free and are very low in sodium. They are also excellent sources of fiber, antioxidants, and vital nutrients like vitamin C. Try one today!

B is for Balance. MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines both emphasize the importance of balance in your life. Balance your calorie intake with physical activity, and balance your plate according to MyPlate’s proportion guidelines.

C is for Cooking. When you cook at home, you control exactly what goes into your meals. Cook healthfully with plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, lean protein, and nonfat dairy.

D is for Dairy. MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise people to choose low- or nonfat dairy when possible. The saturated fat found in dairy products is very bad for your health, especially your heart!

E is for Empty Calories. According to MyPlate, foods with empty calories are foods that contain solid fats and added sugars. They are usually calorie-dense, but these calories are very nutrient-light. Avoid foods with empty calories whenever you can — they just aren’t good for you.

F is for Fruit. MyPlate’s fruit group contains everything from stone fruits to berries to tropical rarities. Follow MyPlate’s advice and fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal.

G is for Grains. MyPlate advises people to make at least half the grains they eat whole grains, every day. In a rut? Try a new whole grain like amaranth, bulgur, or quinoa!

H is for Healthy Eating Patterns. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans insist that healthy eating patterns should meet nutrient needs at a reasonable calorie level. Stick to nutrient-dense foods whenever you can.

I is for Include Seafood. Did you know that most people should consume at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week? That’s what MyPlate suggests. Just remember to keep seafood preparations lean and sidestep breaded or fried options.

J is for Juice. If you do drink juice, be sure to choose options that are 100% fruit or vegetables. Juice is a hiding place for a surprising amount of added sugars. Don’t fall into the trap! Choose 100% juice instead.

K is for Kids. Did you know that kids need at least 60 minutes of exercise every day? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans posts that number as the minimum for most children, so get out there and play!

L is for Lean. When you go to get your servings from the protein food group, stick to lean options. Try beans, peas, white meat poultry, or lean cuts of beef or pork.

M is for MyPlate. Follow the plate! At each meal, half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, with the rest divided equally between protein and grains. Add a bit of dairy too, and remember to keep things balanced!

N is for Nutrients. Most Americans aren’t getting enough nutrients. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should replace foods that are made mostly of empty calories with nutrient-dense foods. Nutrients of concern in American diets include calcium, potassium, vitamin D and dietary fiber.

O is for Orange. Oranges are a nutrient powerhouse. They are full of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. Eating oranges may also help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Try one today!

P is for Protein. MyPlate’s protein group is filled with meat, nuts, poultry, seeds, seafood, eggs, beans, and peas. Eat a wide variety of lean options daily.

Q is for Quality of Life. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “Achieving and sustaining appropriate body weight across the lifespan is vital to maintaining good health and quality of life” (2010, page 8).

R is for Reduced Risk. MyPlate claims that eating fruits and vegetables will reduce your risk of heart disease. That’s just one more reason to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at each meal.

S is for Sodium. Most people are consuming way too much sodium. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise people to keep sodium consumption below 2300 mg per day. People who are African American, are over 51, or who have hypertension, diabetes, or kidney disease should all consume less than 1500 mg of sodium per day.

T is for Tomato. Tomatoes are filled with key nutrients to improve your health. They are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, and K, and also contain fiber and several B vitamins.

U is for Unique. Did you know that beans and peas are unique foods? MyPlate counts them as both a vegetable and a protein, so tally them where you need them the most!

V is for Variety. While portion sizes should stay small, it is important to eat a variety of fresh and healthful foods. Don’t fall into the rut of eating the same foods over and over — you could be missing out on nutrients! Look for new and nutritious foods to try each day.

W is for Water. One of MyPlate’s key consumer messages is to replace sugary drinks like soda and sport beverages with water. Water is essential to health, and many people don’t drink enough of it.

X is for eXplanation. Do you want more details about healthful eating and balanced nutrition? Visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for more information about MyPlate. Or, drop by www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines for a closer look at the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Y is for Yogurt. Yogurt is a great source of calcium, but make sure that it doesn’t overload you with sugar and fat. Stick to low- or nonfat options, and check sugar content to make sure it isn’t too high.

Z is for Zone. Keep foods out of the danger zone. Food that has been sitting out at 40-140 degrees F for more than 2 hours is no longer safe to eat.

Like what you see? Here’s the free handout! Normally you can only get this when you get the Nutrition from A to Z poster, but we’re making an exception for you today!

Nutrition from A to Z Handout

But wait, there’s more! Check out these great nutrition education posters that will help you look your very best, right now!

Nutrition Poster Set

Whole Grain Poster

12 Lessons of Wellness and Weight Control Posters

Help Kids Eat More Vegetables

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “9 in 10 children didn’t eat enough vegetables in 2007-2010.”

Salad Kit for KidsThat is one sad statistic.

After all, eating a wide variety of vegetables is critical to good health. Take MyPlate’s advice, for example. “People who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases.” Plus, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans counsel people to “Increase vegetable and fruit intake” and “Eat a variety of vegetables.”

Getting enough vegetables is especially important for children. The CDC asserts “Healthy eating in childhood and adolescence is important for proper growth and development and can prevent health problems such as obesity, dental caries, iron deficiency, and osteoporosis.”

It’s time to turn things around and help kids get the vegetables they need.

Shopping Kit for KidsThat’s why we’ve recently added two new interactive resources to the Nutrition Education Store. These felt shopping and salad kits offer new ways for kids to engage with fruits and vegetables, encouraging healthful habits and a balanced diet.  Plus, research indicates that kids who play a role in choosing the healthful ingredients for a meal are more likely to eat it. Getting familiar with salad is one way to help increase fruit and vegetable intake among children. Shopping for food together is another.

But that’s not all! Today we’re offering a sneak peek into ways to help kids eat more vegetables. Check out the handouts below — you can get a free leader guide for fruit and vegetable activities for kids in kindergarten through 3rd grade, and then follow up with a free activity page for kids at the same age level. Check out the previews below, and if you like what you see, get your own salad or shopping kits today!

Salad Activity Ideas:

Activity #1 — Salad Taste Test: Fill a bowl with lettuce leaves and pass it around. Have each child taste a piece of lettuce and describe it. Repeat the taste test with other salad ingredients, then use the felt to show ways the ingredients can be combined into yummy salads. If you have the time and budget, offer real salad ingredients for kids to mix and match. Let them eat their creations.

Activity #2 — Fun Facts: Divide the kids into groups and give each a different felt ingredient. With younger kids, have each group think of something that makes that ingredient special. With older kids, have them research the health impact of that ingredient. Have each group present their findings and put their piece in the tray. At the end, present the tray to the kids — look at the great salad they can make together!

Salad Worksheet:

Salad Worksheet

If you like what you see, get the handouts for free! Here are PDF copies of the leader guide and activity page, just for you!

Salad Leader Guide

Salad WorksheetPS These would be perfect for National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, which is coming right up!

And here are more fruit and vegetable resources from the Nutrition Education Store. Remember, we’re here to help you look your very best…

Fruit and Vegetable Poster Set

Fruit and Vegetable Balloon Set

Color Your World with Food Banner

Reader Request: Nutrition Month Coloring Pages

You all know how much I love getting requests, right?

Here’s a fun request that made its way into my inbox a few weeks ago.

Hello, Judy!

Each year, I sponsor a “poster project” at my daughter’s school.  Students in grades pre-school thru 2nd grade are given a page to color. I use the one available from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics website, based on the year’s theme. However, they have not created a page this year.

Last year, you were able to create 2 pages.   I am wondering if you might have a page that I could print for the students to color, based on the theme, “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”?

Thank you!
Mary Therese Maslanka, RDN, LDN

How could I resist?

My team and I immediately went to work, and Mary Therese Maslanka had those coloring pages in her inbox as soon as we were done.

But I didn’t want to stop there. Now that it’s National Nutrition Month, what better time to share this wonderful resource with you, dear readers?

So, without further ado, here are two great coloring pages that are based on this year’s theme: Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle. Get your copies today!

National Nutrition Month Page 1

 

National Nutrition Month 2

Looking for more fun ways to get kids involved with National Nutrition Month? Check out these fun games and prizes!

Fruit and Vegetable Pens

I Love Salad Wristbands for Kids

Change It Up Stickers

2 Weeks to Go!

The deadline is fast approaching!

MyPlateBack in February, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service proposed guidelines for local school wellness policies. Now there are only 2 weeks left to comment on them!

The rules that the Food and Nutrition Service outlined focused on what school wellness policies need to feature, including…

  • Physical activity goals
  • Nutrition education goals
  • Rules for informing parents about wellness policies
  • Assessing progress
  • Sharing updates

According to the USDA, “Parents, students, representatives of the school food authority, teachers of physical education, school health professionals, the school board, school administrators, and the general public must be permitted to participate in the wellness policy process as a part of the wellness policy team.”

This rule would also affect the marketing of snacks, drinks, and other foods at the school. Everything would have to align with the Smart Snacks in Schools rules and regulations.

So, what do you think about these proposed guidelines? There are only 2 weeks left to log your comments, so, if you have views, share them today!

For More Information:

Remember, there are tons of resources for schools! Check out the Nutrition Education Store for amazing handouts, posters, display kits, and more!

School Menu Erasable Poster

7 Elementary School Nutrition Poster Set

MyPlate Stickers

Free Handouts: Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right

Nutrition Month is right around the corner, and we’re already getting great material requests from health educators.

Coloring Page One

Mary Therese Maslanka, RD, LDN, recently wrote to us to see if we could craft a few handouts that kids could color for fun. The handouts needed to feature the March 2014 Nutrition Month theme, “Enjoy the taste of eating right.” We were thrilled to oblige, especially when we learned that the handouts are part of a poster project for kids in kindergarten through second grade. The kids each get a handout with health messages on it, which they can then color in. What a great way to teach vital health and nutrition messages!

We decided that Mary’s idea was too wonderful not to share, and so now we’re passing the handouts on to you. Feel free to download and print as many as you’d like. And let us know if there’s anything that we can make for you.

What are you waiting for? Get the handouts now!

Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right Coloring Page TwoThere are lots of other nutrition education resources in the Nutrition Education Store. It’s ready to go for Nutrition Month — are you?

If you’re looking to brighten up your space, check out the loads of wonderful nutrition education posters. Some of the latest and greatest posters include the High Five for Fiber poster, a Fruit and Vegetable poster set, a Healthful Food Photo Collection poster, and the ever-popular Eat from the Rainbow poster.

Setting up for a wellness fair? Don’t miss the Fruit and Vegetable Salsa Wellness Fair Kit. Or perhaps a Salt Awareness Display Kit is just what you’re looking for. If you’re hosting any kind of contest or raffle at your booth, MyPlate Bookmarks, Fruit Dessert Recipe Cards, and healthful cooking utensils all make great prizes too.

It’s easier to enjoy the taste of eating right when you have recipes for healthful and balanced meals. That’s where our cookbook collection comes in. The author of these amazing healthy eating cookbooks is a professional chef who graduated 2nd in her class from culinary school. With over 20 years of recipe-testing experience and an eye for detail, Judy Doherty, PC II, has put together some truly amazing healthful cooking resources. No Battles, Better Eating is a fantastic guide that makes cooking for picky eaters a snap, and people regularly “ooh” and “aah” over the gorgeous fruit desserts in Fruit Tooth, a healthful dessert recipe collection. There’s also the top-selling Home Run Cooking and Holiday Secrets — two books that deliver smash hit meals, every time.

What are you doing for Nutrition Month?

Free Handout: Nutrition for Kids

It’s time for another free handout! Are you lucky or what?

This week’s free nutrition education handout is called Nutrition for Kids. It lays out simple questions for kids to ask about their meals and snacks, which combine to help them make healthful and balanced choices. This handout is a perfect accompaniment to a nutrition game or bulletin board for kids. Get it now!

Kids Nutrition Handout

Of course, if you’re looking for nutrition posters, resources for kids, or even school health education materials, the Nutrition Education Store has you covered. Check out the Free Resources for Educators section, or just browse the store. Some of the most popular health and nutrition guides for kids are featured below…

Food Label Bookmark Pack

Eat From the Rainbow Banner

MyPlate Activity Book for Kids