Monday, February 28, 2011

NNM: Eat Right with ALL Colors from ALL Food Groups

When thinking about the 2011 theme for National Nutrition MonthEat Right with Color – it’s easy to think about the produce department. However, to get all the nutrients your body craves, it’s important to think beyond green and orange – and to include black and white, pink and silver, as well as brown and tan foods.

Here are just a few of the tasty colors that can put delicious nutrition onto your family’s plates - and help them maintain healthier weights, as well as a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

  • Green: Tasty options include spinach, leaf lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, beans, and snap peas. If your kids aren’t wild about cooked vegetables, try a tossed salad of baby spinach with apple slices and light dressing.
  • Orange and yellow: Popular picks include baby carrots, oranges, tangerines, peaches, and pineapple. Get into a simple fruit-for-dessert habit: refreshing slices of fresh orange or canned-in-juice mandarin oranges.
  • Blue and purple: Beets, grapes, plums, and blueberries are all nutritious selections. Frozen blueberries are well-accepted and versatile. Sprinkle berries on breakfast cereal, fruit salad, or vanilla yogurt for a treat.
  • Red: While there are lots of red fruits, veggies, and beans, lean red meats - like beef, pork, and lamb - are also important sources of the protein, iron, and zinc that children need to grow and maintain muscle mass.
  • White: Fat-free/low-fat dairy foods are excellent sources of three missing nutrients (vitamin D, calcium, and potassium). Three servings a day of milk, cheese, or yogurt help kids grow strong bones and teeth.
  • Brown and tan: Whole grains now come in a range of crunchy, healthy colors. Buy products that list a whole grain as the first ingredient on hot and cold breakfast cereals, breads, rolls, crackers, and pasta.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gearing Up for NNM: Eating Right with Color

Even though March is still 10 days away, I have to start blogging about National Nutrition Month®. It's another cold, snowy, white day in Montana -- and I am desperate for some color on my plates and on the blog!

With many thanks to Sandra Frank at Wellness News for the fun graphic, here is the start to some delicious, colorful eating from Eat Right Montana (ERM). Check out the ERM website for an archive of Healthy Families newsletters and flavorful recipes like March's Veggie-Bean Wrap.


March is National Nutrition Month®, celebrated every year by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) to focus on the importance of nutrition for health, happiness, and overall well-being. This year’s theme - Eat Right With Color - aligns with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans released on January 31, 2011.

Eat Right With Color is a fun, easy, and positive way to talk with kids about nutrition,” says Crystelle Fogle, MBA, MS, RD (Registered Dietitian), with Montana’s Cardiovascular Health Program. “We know that eating habits begin early in life, when parents and other adults can model smart food choices for children. Color is one helpful guide to eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods every day.”

In releasing the new Dietary Guidelines, nutrition experts noted that few American children get the variety of foods they need for optimal growth, development, and performance in school. Just like adults, many children are getting too many calories, but not enough nutrients. Americans are especially deficient in fiber, vitamin D, calcium, and potassium. According to the Dietary Guidelines report, the solution is not taking dietary supplements, but rather an increase in nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups.

“As a mom, I’m always looking for practical shopping and cooking tips,” adds Fogle. “ADA’s new website Kid's Eat Right has great information and recipes for Nutrition Month - and all year round!”

Up next ... more terrific ways to Eat Right with Color!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A sweet secret about sweet potatoes

A busy schedule and a mid-winter cough have kept me away from the blog for bit. During this time, I had a wonderful sweet potato moment ... which I want to share before returning to FIT KIDS= HAPPY KIDS.

As a long-time lover of sweet potatoes, I thought I knew pretty much everything about these nutritious, delicious, and versatile, sweet tubers.

While sometimes labeled as yams in the produce department, what we usually buy are different varieties of the sweet potato. Popular in African and Caribbean cuisines, true yams are a totally different, but equally nutritious vegetable.

Packed with fiber, potassium, vitamins A, C, and phytonutrients, sweet potatoes are nutrition powerhouses. Just like white potatoes, they can be baked, mashed (a little soft cheese adds creaminess, basil adds just the right amount of tang), and turned into delicious baked ‘fries’ (slice, toss with a little olive oil and your favorite seasonings, then bake for 30 minutes in a 425 degree oven)

My all-time favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes has always been roasted ... see the very simple recipe below, which works nicely for any type of root veggie.

Then, thanks to the "lunch ladies" in Green Bay, Wisconsin Public Schools, I discovered a TOTALLY new way to love sweet potatoes ... in the RAW!

For all the details on preparing sweet potato sticks, I recommend the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission website.

Scroll to bottom of page for instructions on how to keep sticks from browning. Now, that's an idea for a SUPER tasty, SUPER healthy, SUPER snack! I'm betting that most kids will love their crunchy sweetness as much as I did.

Roasted Root Vegetables


4 medium-sized root vegetables (choose a variety from potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, beets, sweet potatoes, etc.)

2 chopped carrots

1 medium chopped onion

3-4 Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Season with your favorite herbs and spices


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut vegetables into large chunks.

3. Place in a medium bowl and pour oil over top. Add Parmesan cheese and seasonings. Mix well.

4. Spread an even layer on a baking sheet.

5. Bake for about 1 hour or until tender. Start checking the vegetables at about 45 minutes to see if they are the proper texture.

Yield: 4 servings (approx. 1 cup each)


Roasting root vegetables adds a delightful sweet flavor. Cut vegetables into chunks that are similar in size so they will finish roasting at the same time.

Some seasoning options:

  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic with ground black pepper to taste

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cabin Fever Solutions: Staying Active When You're Stuck Indoors


Playing outside is nearly always more fun and usually more vigorous than indoor activity. However, the weather is sometimes just too frightful and families need to have many inside alternatives.

Active video games (like Wii™) are an option. Video games usually expend more energy than sitting on a couch in front of the TV or playing regular video games. The energy used does vary dramatically from person to person and is generally in the same range as moderate walking.


Here is a short list of indoor activity options for your family. Need more ideas? Get together for a family brainstorm and put your list up on the fridge or bulletin board.

1. Dance, dance, dance: Put on some tunes and rock the house with fun moves.

2. Show off your talents: Let family members take turns leading an activity.

3. Activate commercial breaks: Get up and get moving during TV breaks.

4. Plan a scavenger hunt: Maybe you can find missing socks and other stuff?

5. Build a crawl-thru obstacle course: Use big pillows, chairs, and blankets.

6. Have a hula contest: All it takes is a hoop or two and a wide open space.

7. Play charades: Use an active theme (like animals) and move like your word.

8. Hide and seek: Use the whole house, basement, and garage (if heated).

9. Twist yourself in knots: For about $15, the game of Twister is a ton of fun!

10. Take a trip: Go to a mall for a walk, a Y for a swim, or a rink for a skate.


Make it fun, do it together! Turn off the TV and the other screen entertainment (DVD, computers, and video games). Fill your home with active fun even when there's a blizzard outside.