# Sugar: Do the Math

Sugar can be confusing to your students or clients.

They hear lots of different numbers … percent of calories from sugar, teaspoons of sugar, and grams of sugar.

They see lots of terms … natural sugar, added sugar, and other names for sugar.

They’re bombarded with misinformation … “I can’t eat fruit because it has sugar!” “Honey is natural so it’s healthier than sugar.”

Clear up the sugar confusion once and for all with our Sugar Math PowerPoint show that comes with speaker’s notes, handouts, and clipart.

Your audience will learn how to do the math when it comes to sugar:

• How to calculate sugar limits by calorie intake
• How to find added sugars on the Nutrition Facts panel
• How to translate grams of sugar to teaspoons of sugar
• How to tally up their daily sugar intake

And they’ll learn about:

• Foods and beverages that are high in added sugars
• How to spot hidden sugars
• Simple swaps to lower sugar intake
• Why cutting down on sugar is important to health

If you want to do it yourself, why not visit the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and show how the limit for refined sugar is 10% of calories per day?

Discussion points: what is refined sugar, and what is 10% of calories per day for most people? Look at a few popular food labels and discuss how these foods can fit. Ask the audience what they would do on 10% calorie budget for their sugar intake. Do beverages make sense?

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

PDF Handout: Sugar Math

# Plant-Based Beats Processed

It seems like processed and ultra-processed foods have been in the news a lot lately.

While some people get mired in conversations about what foods should be considered processed (canned beans? whole grain bread?), you can’t go wrong by promoting a plant-based eating pattern that’s centered on vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and fruits.

We have some great ways to get your students, clients, or employees off the processed food track and on the road to a plant-based eating pattern.

1. One of our newest posters uses pictures to encourage nutrient-dense foods over ultra-processed ones:

#### Nutrient-Dense Vs Ultra Processed Food Poster 18x24 Laminated - Nutrition Poster

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2. One look at this poster (which also comes as a banner, stickers, and bookmarks) kind of says it all:

#### Real Food Grows Poster - Nutrition Poster - Motivational Poster

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3. If there’s a health fair in your future, create an eye-catching display with our Real Food Grows theme materials. You’ll really get their attention when you wear our fruit and veggie mask!

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Free Handout: Nutrient-Dense vs Ultra-Processed

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# Supermarket Tours with a Twist

Supermarket tours are great for teaching people how to make healthy choices. They’re fun, interactive, and hands-on. But they’re not pandemic-friendly.

When you can’t take the people to the grocery store, bring the grocery store to the people! It’s easy if you use one of our shopping PowerPoint shows:

Or get all the shows listed above in the 6 Grocery Shopping PowerPoint Tour Guides Kit. No matter who’s in your audience, this kit has everything you need, including handouts and lesson plans.

Here are some ways to add a twist to your virtual supermarket tour:

1. Talk shopping while you cook. Record a cooking demonstration to go along with your virtual shopping tour. As you cook, talk about each ingredient. Where can you find it in the store? What can you substitute if it’s not in stock? Is there a budget-friendly option? Can you use frozen instead of fresh? What do you look for on the food label?
2. Share your screen. Grocery shopping online is more popular than ever, but some people aren’t tech-savvy. Share your screen to show them how to select and order groceries for curbside pickup or delivery. Do a sample order that includes a variety of items from each food group so you can add tips for choosing healthier options.
3. Build a healthy shopping list. Even if you don’t order groceries online, a supermarket’s website or app is still a valuable tool for building a healthy shopping list. Plus, a detailed list is pandemic-friendly – it can help limit the number of trips to the store and how much time you spend there.
4. Take one aisle at a time. A comprehensive supermarket tour can be overwhelming, whether it’s in-person or virtual. Break your virtual tour up into smaller sessions where you focus on one aisle or department at a time.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Free shopping lists here.

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# More Cooking Demo Ideas

Last week, we explored ideas for MyPlate cooking demos that you can do on Zoom, Facebook, or YouTube (if you missed it, click here). But we can’t talk about food demos without mentioning our Cooking Demo Ideas Book & CD, which has more than 300 pages and 30+ lessons on topics like fiber, heart health, portion control, fruits, and veggies, ethnic dishes, food safety, and meal planning.

We’ve done all the work for you — tested recipes, prepared shopping lists, written speaker’s notes, created handouts, and more. You just have to decide which lessons and food demos to do! Here are some suggestions:

1. Cooking for One – for seniors and singles who are mostly home alone during the pandemic.
2. Budget Cooking – for families who now more than ever are on a tight budget.
3. Kids in the Kitchen – for home-schoolers and parents who need activities for their children.
4. No-Cook Recipes – for people with disabilities or those who don’t have everyday access to a kitchen.
5. Fish Twice a Week – for families stuck in the chicken-beef-pork protein routine.
6. Healthy Asian, African, Italian, Latin – for anyone who wants to broaden their cooking horizons (and avoid pricey & often unhealthy takeout!)

You can supplement your cooking demo with the two PowerPoint shows that come with the book:

• Recipe Modification: Our best tips on modifying recipes; 50 slides with speaker’s notes.
• Menu Planning and Shopping Tips: Three ways to plan meals; 21 slides with speaker’s notes.

Remember, our PowerPoint shows are instantly downloadable, editable, and always come with lifetime updates!

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# Nutrition Education in the COVID-19 Era

What does nutrition and health education look like in the COVID-19 era? People want to know how to …

• Stay healthy, boost their immune system, and reduce their chance of catching the virus.
• Prevent or manage chronic diseases, like diabetes, that can lead to serious COVID-19 complications.
• Save money at the supermarket and cook healthy meals at home.

We have a collection of COVID-19 Era Nutrition Education materials to help you teach these topics. But what about social distancing and people who want to learn in a no-contact setting? The PowerPoint shows in our COVID-19 collection make it easy to offer engaging online workshops that meet your clients’ needs.

Here’s one example of how you could use our shows:

Saving money at the supermarket is a hot topic right now. You could offer a two-part online series that appeals to the broad audience of folks who, pre-COVID, were in the habit of eating out a lot.

Start out by dispelling the myth that healthy food is expensive – our Healthy Eating on a Budget PowerPoint presentation proves it. Your clients will learn:

• Cost per ounce and nutrition facts for choices from each MyPlate food group.
• How to plan meals, build a shopping list, and limit food waste.
• Budget-friendly ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
• Lots of other money-saving tips.

Since saving money means cooking at home more, the second part of your online series should be our 25 Ingredients Into 15 Fast Healthy Meals PowerPoint show. With real photos of real food, your audience will learn to prepare a week’s worth of low-fat, high-fiber meals. We even provide tips on how to use our recipes for your own cooking demo in case you want to add that to your online workshop.

If this idea for a two-part workshop series doesn’t work for you, just change it up. Maybe split the information into 15-minute sessions. And all of our PowerPoint shows come with downloadable handouts that you can send to clients as a follow-up to what they’ve learned.

If you are planning in-person classes or events, check out our new custom printed face masks

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# Shop from your freezer

Not wanting to go to the grocery store and have more time at home to cook than usual? Looking for meals you can cook for dinner from what’s already in your house? It’s time to shop from your freezer.

Do you really know what’s in there? Take the time to pull things out and make decisions if I you’ll ever use that food or not. You might want to do an inventory list so you can remember what’s there. Update this list as you use up the food.

The “rule of thumb” for freezing fresh foods (like turkey, hamburger, fresh fruits and vegetables) is that it will keep for one year. Precooked foods and leftovers are best if eaten within three to four months. These time recommendations are for quality not safety.

This loss of quality is what’s often called “freezer burn” and does not necessarily make food unsafe.   This can be dehydration, deterioration of quality or just an “off flavor”.  Safety wise food can stay in the freezer longer if there has not been any loss of power and the food has been kept at zero degrees.  Think quality vs. safety. The US Food and Drug Administration has a great chart online with recommended freezer storage times.

Another key to keeping your freezer items under control and to help with the inventory is to label all items with the description and date.  You may think you’ll always remember what’s in that package, but once frozen applesauce can look like gravy and kale can look like chopped broccoli.  Mystery food.

If you have find you have a collection of these unknown items….have a Surprise Dinner! Thaw out all of these unlabeled items and serve as a smorgasbord.  It may not be balanced nutrition, it may not all go together, but you’ve accomplished several things – cleaned the freezer, learned what’s there and fun (ny) dinner.

When looking at these items and making decisions remember the old saying, “when in doubt about the age, the quality or the safety of a food….throw it out.”

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Reference:

# Caution: Shopping Excitement

Everyone’s mind right now if focusing on COVID-19.   If you’re like me, you’re planning fewer trips to the grocery store and “stocking up” a little more while there.

Since I hadn’t been to the store in about a month our supply of fresh foods was gone.  When we finally went to the store and I was thrilled to replenish and may have gotten a little carried away.  I’m thinking I was on-the-edge of “over-purchasing” (hopefully that’s a step-down from a hoarder.) I’m working on using the food up and sharing some with neighbors,  but I have a feeling that others may be in the same boat as me—uncertain of the future and also “eyes bigger than the refrigerator” while shopping.

This “shopping excitement”  could lead to food waste or (even worse) a foodborne illness that could cause you to need a doctor or emergency room (not something any of us want to do right now).

11 of our “tried and true” food safety cautions are even more important to remember now:

1. Get food into the refrigerator as soon as possible after shopping.  I know some folks are thinking they should leave it in the garage for a couple of days, this may cause more problems with temperatures outside rising into the temperate danger zone.
2. Check the temperature of your refrigerator. It should be below 40 degrees F. But keep it higher enough not to freeze your lettuce and other fresh foods.
3. Don’t overfill the refrigerator.  Allow for air circulation. Practice FIFO in your refrigerator—First In, First Out.
4. Wash your hands before beginning to cook. Most folks are getting better at this.
5. Wash the kitchen countertop before you begin to cook.  If you have a cause-for-concern you might want to sanitize or disinfect the work surfaces in addition to cleaning.
6. Store fresh meat and poultry in a pan on the bottom of the refrigerator so it won’t drip onto fresh fruits and vegetables that won’t be cooked.  Sealed containers are the most ideal type to use for raw meat, poultry, and fish.
7. If you’re doing bulk purchasing of fresh meat or chicken be sure to take care—mishandling of these foods has been linked to foodborne illnesses in the past.  Avoid getting the juices in your vehicle or on other foods, utensils,  countertops, and other kitchen surfaces.  Freeze what you can’t use within 7 days.
8. Remember meat and poultry should be cooked to the minimum recommended internal temperature.  Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F, ground beef to 155 degrees F and whole cuts of beef and pork to 145 degrees F.  Use a thermometer to check temps—don’t guess.
9. After cooking and eating be sure to put any leftovers into the refrigerator as soon as possible.
10. If you’ve “over-purchased”  fresh fruits and vegetables consider freezing or preserving them for future use.  The National Center for Home Food Preservation has research-based instructions at https://nchfp.uga.edu
11. If you have “over-purchased” canned foods that you won’t be able to use, check with your local food bank or food pantry, they may be in need of replenishment.

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

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# Sodium Sneaks Up On You

I think most of us are aware of sodium in many canned foods and routinely purchase low sodium products. But sometimes it pops up where you least expect it.

I’m talking about commercially prepared salsa.

Salsa is running neck-to-neck with ketchup as the most popular condiment in the United States.  More and more I’m seeing recipes that use salsa as an ingredient in a recipe.  I recently made soup that used an entire jar of salsa to add a bolt of flavor.  The recipe encouraged cooks to purchase their favorite type of salsa—chunky, smooth, hot, mild, with beans or without…..whatever you wanted to add a punch to this soup recipe.

Not only did it add a punch —it added a lot of sodium. I sure was surprised. When was the last time you really read the Nutrition Facts on the label of a bottle of commercially made salsa? Yikes!  I think that it’s interesting to note that the word salsa comes from Latin for salt or salted.

Let’s get to the nitty-gritty—the Nutrition Facts label clearly read contains 210 milligrams of sodium per serving.  The kicker is the serving size.  Just two tablespoons is a serving. There were 24 servings in the bottle.  This is kind of like that old commercial for chips….who can eat just one serving of salsa?  Think about the last time you were at a Mexican restaurant and they put that basket of chips and bowl of salsa in front of you? Did you stop at two tablespoons?

The entire 24-ounce jar of chunky mild salsa contained 5250 milligrams of sodium.  The recipe made 12 one-cup servings—so the sodium provided by the salsa alone was 438 milligrams. This is on par with a serving of soup from a can.

So, what’s good about salsa?  It can be low in calories (10 per serving), low in sugar (1 gram) and contains some fiber (1 gram).

The amount of sodium in the diet has been linked to increased blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular disease in adults. The 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines tell us that adults and children ages 14 and older should limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day. This is about what you get in one teaspoon of salt.   For people with high blood pressure, a further reduction to 1,500 mg per day is recommended.

It sure is easy to grab a jar of salsa from the cupboard and use it as an ingredient. But like most processed food, it can backfire.  When shopping, read nutrition labels and try to find a product with less sodium per serving. Other obvious solutions would be to cut back on serving size. Another idea is to experiment and modify the recipe using low-salt tomatoes or tomato sauce and add your own herbs, peppers, and spices. At a restaurant opt for a fresh Pico de Gallo instead of an unknown (possible sodium bomb.) Trader Joe has a fire-roasted salsa that has no salt added and is especially nice for adding to dishes like soups (tip and favorite of Barbara Rice, RD, LD).

Making your own salsa can give you that flavor boost with limited (or no) sodium, too.  Not only do they provide fresh flavor but also some fresh vegetables to the diet.

Here is a free salsa recipe that is very easy to make and it contains no added salt:

https://foodandhealth.com/recipes.php/recipe/832

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

The other day I was at the grocery store and there was a pile of pineapples at a very good price. I picked one up and thought to myself “what do I know about buying pineapple?”  I seemed to remember something about the leaves pulling out—but is that bad or good?  I just grabbed one and hoped for the best.

But, now that I’m home, I decided to look it up and share because I figured I’m not the only one in a quandary.

I learned that pineapples do NOT ripen after they are picked. They just get older. So quickly my pineapple went from the counter to inside the refrigerator.  The sooner you eat the pineapple the better—for best quality eat within four days to a week of purchase.  Once cut, continue to store covered in the refrigerator and eat within two days.

If allowed to fully ripen on the plant a yellowish-orange rind will give you the best fruit quality. Pineapples ripen from the bottom up, so the more yellow as it moves up the body the better. But this doesn’t mean that a green pineapple is bad and many are picked and shipped with green color.   Unless you’re standing in a pineapple plantation, having one shipped directly to you from a grower  or have a plant in your garden, you’re going to have to trust that the growers picked the pineapple at the appropriate degree of sweetness and ripeness. There is no “season” for pineapples. They are available year round.  In general, pineapples from Hawaii are shipped only to the west coast of the continental US and other parts of the country get pineapple from Mexico and Costa Rica.

If there is a pile of pineapple—pick one of the bigger and heavier ones.  You just get more for your money.

The best way to tell if you have a good pineapple is that it looks fresh and the leaves are still green.  Avoid bruised, mushy skin and soft spots on the body.  The base of the pineapple should not be wet or moldy.  Does it smell pleasant and sweet?  If it smells slightly spoiled or like fermentation or vinegar—avoid that one!

Two slices of pineapple (about 4 ounces) has 50 calories, zero fat, 1 gram sodium and 19 mg of vitamin C which is about 60% the amount needed for one day.

Remember when I thought about the leaves?   This tends to be an “old wives tale”.  Being able to pull the leaves out of the crown is not a sign of ripeness or quality.

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

Best ways to prepare and serve fresh pineapple:

• grilled and warm
• cubed and placed on skewers
• slice and place on salads
• chopped and put on any protein dish
• add to stir fry dishes
• add to salsa

Wild Rice with Pineapple

# Two Tools to Keep it Simple

Your clients are busy. They hear conflicting nutrition advice every day. When it’s time to shop for food, they’re overwhelmed by thousands of choices at the supermarket. But we know healthy eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. That’s why we’re excited about the new MyPlate campaign and theme coming in 2020 with the new Dietary Guidelines – Start Simple with MyPlate.

Keeping things simple is what we had in mind when we created our new Two Tools poster. Healthy eating is simple when you use the Dynamic Duo of MyPlate and the Nutrition Facts label.

Here are five lessons taught by the Two Tools: MyPlate and Nutrition Facts Label poster:

1. Use MyPlate as a guide when shopping for food and you’ll take home the building blocks for healthy meals.
2. You know you’re on the right track when half of your shopping cart is filled with fruits and vegetables and half is filled with whole grains and lean protein. And don’t forget some low-fat dairy!
3. Beware of misleading claims on the front of food packages.
4. Check the Nutrition Facts label for the information you need to make the healthy choice. Look at calories, portion size, saturated fat, sodium, added sugars, and fiber.
5. With MyPlate and the Nutrition Facts label, it’s simple to build a more balanced eating pattern that will promote good health.

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