01, February 2016 9:00 AM

This February, families have an extra day to eat healthy. Combine the Leap Year with Super Bowl, American Heart Month, National Cherry Month, Sweet Potato Month and National Fiber Focus Month, and there's a whole lot of good eating to be had this second month of the year. Planning, preparing and enjoying balanced meals together as a family is always a good strategy for improved health and nutrition. Visit our Family Meal Planning page for more information, tips and resources. 

February Family Meal Recipes

Big Game? No Sweat!

Buffalo Chicken Casserole with Steamed Broccoli and Banana-Y Chocolate Freezer Pops; plus Kale + Spinach Chips, Ants On A Log, Chicken Quesadillas and Custard Berry Parfaits.

Healthy Hearts, Happy Stomachs

Red, White and Green Grilled Cheese, Aztec Salad and Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Mini Pies; plus Broiled Snapper, Limeade Milk Chillers, Creamy Wheat Berry Hot Cereal and Fresh Vegetable Salad.

Cherries On Top

Cherry Glazed ChickenColorful Lemon Couscous and Cherry-Vanilla Bean Milkshakes; plus Cabbage and Cherry Salad with Ginger Lemon Dressing, Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal, Bleu Cheese and Dried Cherry Meatloaf and Cheesy Bread Twists.

Sweet, Sweet Fiber

Sweet Potato Chili, Cornmeal Drop Biscuits and Poached Pears in Chocolate Raspberry Sauce; plus Curried Sweet Potatoes With Spinach and ChickpeasSweetie Pie Quesadillas, Nutty Breakfast Parfaits and Black Bean, Corn and Zucchini Enchiladas.

Leap Day Delights

"Apple Pie in a Glass" Milk, Ham and Potato Soup and Zucchini-Potato Latkes with Tzatziki; plus Mexican Potato OmeletChallah, Simple Sesame Snap Peas and Walking Meal.

Tags: family meals Healthy eating healthy eating patterns recipes
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

26, January 2016 11:00 AM

Teach nutrition with SMART board extension activitiesWhen it comes to engaging, real-life subject matter, we are of the opinion that it doesn't get much better than nutrition. In fact, this blog and sections of this website are dedicated to showcasing the many ways nutrition can be used to enhance the learning of basic subjects like English Language Arts and Math. 

Sometimes, other teachers are our best source of inspiration. We have many profiles and case studies of teachers who build upon our classroom programs in unique and inspiring ways. Other teachers adapt our programs to the latest advance in classroom technology, share it with us and then inspire a whole new set of education offerings. 

That was clearly the case with SMART Board activities and nutrition education. A wonderful and inspired first grade teacher, Cyndi Reiley at Las Juntas Elementary in Martinez, created the first SMART Board activity based on our nutrition lesson plans and shared it with us. After reviewing her amazing activities, we decided to partner with Reiley to develop more of these 15 minute activities. 

Teacher Created, Tested + Approved

We're delighted to announce nutrition education SMART Board activities for elementary grades K-5! Lower elementary students explore the health benefits of foods within each of the five food groups; create a balanced breakfast by choosing food pictures to include “3 of 5” food groups; and sort food pictures as food group snacks or as an “extra” food. Upper elementary students learn that each food group has a main nutrient and specific health benefit; match the main nutrient to foods within the five food groups; and use a Vortex activity to sort snacks as a food group snack or “extra” food.

Screenshot of SMART board nutrition lesson So if you have a SMART Board and your students enjoy playing memory games, drag and drop games or might enjoy sending food flying through a vortex, then our brand new SMART Board activities will be just the thing to bring your classroom nutrition education lessons to life. 

Calling All Comments!

We would love to hear back from you to learn how you use SMART Board activities in your class. Leave a comment below answering one or both questions to be entered into a raffle to win a $25 gift card from a classroom supply store of your choice! 

1. How are you using SMART Board activities to teach nutrition? Please share your story or lesson examples for other teachers.

2. What are your thoughts about these new SMART Board activities? Do you like them? What works best in your classroom? What would you add to the lessons already available? 

Thank you for your feedback! We'll review the responses and in honor of National Nutrition Month, we'll select a winner on Tuesday, March 1.

Tags: elementary extension activities nutrition education nutrition lesson plans SMART Board
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

21, January 2016 8:58 AM

I am guessing that you are reading this blog because, like me, you too are passionate about creating a Culture of Health where you work, learn, live, or play by helping others to establish healthy eating habits. Over the past few months many of us kept a close watch on the formation of the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) released on January 7, 2016 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

For me, there’s not too much that’s exciting in the “cups per day per food group” part of the 2015-2020 Guidelines. Still, it’s important guidance for the health of the nation because the recommendations form the basis for federal nutrition policies such as the National School Lunch Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, also known as WIC. 

But as someone committed to health and nutrition reform, the 2015-2020 guidelines are significant because they do more than just encourage Americans to adopt healthy eating habits. Once you read through the sections on WHAT you should eat, there’s a whole section on HOW to impact the environment that influences our food choices. 

This focus was foreshadowed in the Scientific Committee’s report from February 2015, which called for the creation of a “Culture of Health” to stem the tide of obesity and chronic disease and smooth the path to healthier eating habits and physically active lifestyles. 

SEM Model from Dietary Guidelines Currently only available in an online version, chapter 3 of the DGAs, titled Everyone Has a Role in Supporting Healthy Eating Patterns, asks health professionals and policy makers to think about how we can influence the different layers of the Social Ecological Model (SEM). 

The SEM, pictured at right and also referred to as the spheres of influence, defines how the world around us makes foods available, accessible and acceptable to us. The chapter outlines how we all have a role in shaping food choices through changes in our settings– at home, schools, workplaces, communities and food retail outlets.  

One of the reasons I’m so excited to see this emphasis on improving the eating environment to promote a Culture of Health is that it matches so much of the work we do at Dairy Council of California. We work hand in hand with educators, school administrators, health professionals, policy makers and partners to make this Culture of Health a reality. To illustrate our multifaceted involvement, I took a list of setting alignment suggestions from the DGA website and inserted hyperlinks that correspond with the various resources, efforts and initiatives we’re already involved with:

Clearly no one individual or organization can implement this model on their own. However, it is my sincere hope that this support from the DGA Scientific Committee will inspire others to align their efforts with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines to influence individual choices and design environments that support healthy eating made easier for all.

Shannan Young, R.D.N., S.N.S.
Program Manager, Food Systems

Tags: Dietary Guidelines for Americans family meals Healthy eating healthy eating habits nutrition education physical activity workplace wellness
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

20, January 2016 9:00 AM

students enjoying classroom nutrition education lessons It's important for us to align to the five food group nutrition philosophy to provide consistent information with national recommendations. We at Dairy Council of California believe that our rigorous project evaluation process is essential to demonstrate our nutrition education programs are evidence-based and worth time in the classroom. While achieving knowledge gain over time is a good first step, our programs go further to achieve positive changes in attitudes or behaviors to raise healthy eaters.

Teaching evidence-based nutrition in our classrooms can create a shared goal of nutritious choices!

We offer a variety of classroom-based nutrition education programs that are tailored to each grade level. We’ve collaborated with top experts in education and public health to develop nutrition education programs based on current best practices in the field of nutrition and cutting-edge behavioral research.  We dedicate significant time and money to program development and evaluation because we firmly believe that classroom nutrition education improves student knowledge and skills. Evaluation results demonstrate that the students report fewer empty calorie foods after receiving the nutrition education programs.

Re-AIMing our efforts

Over the past few years, we've used the RE-AIM model (Reach, Efficacy, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance), to evaluate several of our programs. This model is used to show the public health impact an intervention can have. Not only does a program need to be effective, the RE-AIM model takes into account how many sites use the program and its sustainability. In other words, a program that has high implementation can have a greater public impact than a highly intensive program that is effective yet challenging to implement. We've published the results of several of our nutrition education program evaluations in peer-reviewed scientific journals. 

For example, several classroom programs have applied the RE-AIM model and demonstrated a positive public health impact. Prior to 2015, our middle school and third grade nutrition programs were published in peer-reviewed journals. 

  • This year an evaluation of our Nutrition Pathfinders nutrition education program for fourth and fifth grade students was published in the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine. Read more about the evaluation of Nutrition Pathfinders here.
  • The most recent evaluation of our Kindergarten program, Building a Healthy Me! has a manuscript using the RE-AIM model under review for publication. 
students learning nutrition in the classroom

Expanding on knowledge gains to help students make better food choices

Our nutrition education programs are rooted in the belief that classrooms are the best place to teach children about nutrition and connect with families to create a supportive home environment. Establishing healthy eating and exercise behaviors in children and adolescents is a piece of the puzzle to reverse America’s obesity epidemic.Not only does evidence suggest that it’s easier to keep weight off than it is to lose weight once it’s been gained(1), but eating and exercise patterns start developing in children as young as four years old, and continued to be formed throughout childhood. (2)
Because these patterns can extend to adulthood, establishing healthy nutrition and exercise habits early can have important life-long effects. 

  • A study with third grade students in a study using the Shaping Up My Choices program indicates that improving student confidence to make healthy food choices is successful in improving food choices. This result can help future program development efforts focus here rather than teaching the benefits of healthy eating. 
  • Our nutrition philosophy includes eating a range of foods for good health. Using data from the third grade Shaping Up My Choices program, researchers quantified healthy eating using a variable that includes milk, vegetables, fruit and 100% fruit juice. Using this comprehensive model for healthy eating can help researchers compare study outcomes. 

Classrooms work well because children are grouped together and spend a great deal of time with one another. This makes school an ideal setting for trained educators to teach children about healthful behaviors. Additionally, there are few other settings where classroom instructors and health educators could come together to share their collective knowledge in a way specifically designed for our kids! We are thrilled to work with talented health educators and classroom teachers to make healthy behaviors the norm at school and home. 

Trina Robertson, M.S., R.D.N.



1Priya Sumithran, M.B., B.S., et al. Long-Term Persistence of Hormonal Adaptations to Weight Loss. N Engl J Med 2011; 365:1597-1604October 27, 2011DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1105816. Accessed online  

2Lloyd-Jones DM, Liu K, Colangelo LA, Yan LL, Klein L, Loria CM, Lewis CE, Savage P. Consistently stable or decreased body mass index in young adulthood and longitudinal changes in metabolic syndrome components: the coronary artery risk development in young adults study.Circulation. 2007;115(8):1004–1011. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.648642. Accessed online


Tags: evaluation nutrition education nutrition lesson plans Nutrition Pathfinders Shaping Up My Choices
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

13, January 2016 9:00 AM

What to Cook for Dinner book

If you are looking for a New Year's Resolution that will help you eat healthier, connect with your family and help your kids do better in school, look no further than your nightly family dinner. Research has shown the many benefits of family meals, but most of us are living busy lives with hectic schedules and struggle to get a healthy dinner on the table that both the picky eaters and discerning spouse will enjoy (and let's not even mention your lack of enjoyment from hopping up from the table every two minutes to fetch something!). 

Once you have made the commitment to eating family meals and face the struggle of what to make that is quick and tasty, you can turn to a new book by Maryann Jacobsen, What to Cook for Dinner with Kids: How to Simplify, Strategize and Stop Agonizing Over Family Dinners. The genius behind this book and what will ultimately help improve your meal planning regardless of where you are in the process is that Jacobsen breaks down the how of feeding and points out that we often put too much emphasis on the what. She argues that mastering the how naturally makes the what much easier. 

The book walks you through the process of deconstructing what meals are already working for your family, streamlining and organizing your kitchen and creating a meal vision with a formula of rotating meals. Getting your meal process in order can feel overwhelming at the outset. Indeed, the goal that Jacobsen sets out for the reader at the end of the book (creating your own cookbook) is lofty, but she walks through it step-by-step to help you succeed. Plus, she makes the excellent point that taking on this project will free up your thinking and time in the long run since searching for something to make for dinner often creates decision fatigue (just type "chicken Parmesan recipe" into Google and you'll see 678,000 results!). 

While What to Cook for Dinner presents a great process for rethinking the how of feeding your family, there is no shortage on the what. Over the course of 75 pages, Jacobsen shares her tried-and-true recipes for main and side dishes with tips on customizing recipes and involving your children in the preparation. As a registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Raise Healthy Eaters, Jacobsen also teaches how to round out/balance a meal and how to deal with food storage and safety issues. 

Now that I've read the book and skimmed the recipes, I'm excited to go back and walk through the process with her step-by-step using the guidance and worksheets provided with the book. I am also excited to try one of the most unexpected tips from the book: "I decided to sort food in the cabinet by food groups--grains, protein, fruit & veggies, sweets and miscellaneous--instead of by snack food, canned item, etc. This helps teach my kids about how to put a balanced snack together, so it ends up being a nutrition lesson, too. My fridge is organized by level. Top is drinks, next is leftover items followed by dairy and grains. I have three drawers: one for fruit, one for veggies and another for deli meat and cheese."

Between breaking down the process and offering tried-and-true recipes, tips and nuggets throughout, this book will offer something for every meal planner and preparer. Find it on Amazon. Better yet, if you'd like to win a copy, leave a comment below after signing in with your email address. We will chose two winners randomly from the comments on January 25 – good luck!

LeAnne R. Ruzzamenti, MA
Director of Marketing Communications, Dairy Council of California

Tags: balanced meals family meals Healthy eating healthy eating for kids recipes
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 40