13, April 2017 2:48 PM

Every two years, the California Farm to School and Garden Conference, California Farm to School Network and California Alliance With Family Farmers, connects food service directors, advocates and garden coordinators with resources for accessing locally grown foods and food literacy. The most recent conference was held this past March in Modesto, part of the the Central Valley where half of the fruits and vegetables in the United States are grown.


This year, Dairy Council of California kicked off the conference by sponsoring a "Center of the Plate" Meat and Dairy tour for 20 participants. This tour was designed to highlight how protein and dairy foods are produced and can be locally sourced by California schools. Participants experienced "behind the scenes" tours of a Foster Farms chicken production facility, Hilmar Cheese Company and Clauss Dairy Farm with lunch on Turlock Unified School District’s 10 acre school farm.


Turlock Unified School District excels in putting #CAonyMyPlate, with 90-95 percent of the protein, fruits, vegetables and dairy in the school meal program sourced locally in California. Fun ag facts learned along the way include Foster Farms' processing capacity of 11 million pounds of chicken per week; Hilmar Cheese Company's extensive water recycling program and the 340 cows per hour capacity of Clauss Dairy Farm's rotary milker.


In addition to tour stops, participants heard from Christian Wiedemann, a California beef producer, who shared some information about his cattle ranch and the California beef industry. They also heard from Dr. Annette Jones, the State Veterinarian and Director of the Animal Health and Food Safety Division at the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Dr. Jones shared what her division does to ensure a safe food supply and to keep animals healthy. Dr. Jones highlighted the fact that milk is one of the safest foods in our food supply because the dairy farm families and dairy processing companies take food safety very seriously.


All those who attended the Center of the Plate Meat and Dairy Tour left with a greater appreciation of the work needed to bring California dairy products and proteins from the farm to the plate, giving #CAonMyPlate a whole new meaning. Dairy Council of California is proud to support the Farm to School Movement to help connect the California food system with schools and school cafeterias.


Tags: farm to school Healthy eating milk MyPlate nutrition education school foodservice
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

01, April 2017 9:00 AM

Spring has sprung! April is a fantastic time to enjoy seasonal produce and a variety of food holidays. Kick the month off right by celebrating National Public Health Week and World Health day, then find healthy ways to use up Easter feast leftovers. Boost your immune system by celebrating the antioxidant properties of garlic and opt for the comfort of grilled cheese and tomato soup when April showers keep you indoors. 

Enjoy nutritious family meals with foods from all five food groups with more recipes on

April Family Meal Recipes

National Public Health Week

Carrot Salad With California Dried Plum with Lamb Cooked in Milk with Rice and Tabbouleh Salad; plus Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, Fava Bean Cake With Diced Red Peppers and Yogurt, Tandoori Chicken and Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Ouzo Poached Figs.

Tags: family meals food group foods Healthy eating healthy eating patterns holidays recipes
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

27, March 2017 7:11 PM

Each Dairy Council of California classroom nutrition education offering is designed to be a self-contained direct nutrition education experience that contributes to positive behavior change. 

Many creative teachers extend the learning to keep children engaged and motivated about nutrition. The new online high school offering, Eat Move Win is no exception. 

Trina Robertson, M.S., R.D.N. recently attended an Eat Move Win inspired National Nutrition Month® health fair at an Orange County high school and observed five fantastic ways teachers and students are staying engaged after completing Eat Move Win

  • Supertaster Tests. Order specialized paper strips from an online retailer to help identify supertasters in the student body. Since only about 25 percent of the population has the dominant gene to taste salty or bitter in the strip, it makes for a great conversation on genetics. Since the reactions are pretty dramatic, too, it's an activity that also is guaranteed to draw a crowd. Encourage newly identified supertasters to flavor bitter foods—like adding butter to broccoli—to make them more palatable. 
  • Breakfast and Sleep. Students were shocked that they needed 9-10 hours of sleep each night after visiting this information booth. Students shared with peers that eating breakfast before school or at morning break can help academic performance and breakfast eaters have a healthier overall diet and less late night snacking.
  • Rethink Your Drink. Tired students don’t consider that caffeine for breakfast may not be best. We included empty cans of soda, energy and sports drinks for visuals along with a poster. We added photos of popular coffee shop beverages examples too. There were baggies filled with sugar and students guessed how much sugar was in the beverages they sometimes drink. We provided food models of milk, water and 100% juice to show portions and trading up beverages. MyPlate also recently developed a coffee shop makeover handout that could make for a fun and relevant display. 
  • Personalized Nutrition Bracelets featuring MyPlate daily food plan. Visit a craft store to pick up pipe cleaners and blue, green, red, orange and purple plastic beads. Print out the serving recommendations from MyPlate Checklist at the calorie level to match your audience. For high school students, use 2,000 and 3,200 calorie levels and add color coded beads to represent the number of servings for each food group. It’s a great interactive activity with a lasting visual cue that reminds students about balancing food choices to reach the five food groups and servings needed every day from elementary to high school. (At 2,000 calories, this means students add three blue beads to represent the dairy group servings, three green beads for vegetables, two red beads for fruits, six orange beads for grains and two to three purple beads for protein food servings.)
  • Photobooth Fun. Students love to dress up and take photos in the photo booth. Use clip art and popsicle sticks or skewers to make simple props of food-group foods that represent nutritious eating choices. Add erasable signs or chalkboards for writing personal goals that help students think about their choices. Add boas, leis, hats, empty picture frams and even oversized sunglasses to complete the photobooth experience. 

Proving that moms love nutritious food and photobooths too, Trina Robertson (second from right) posed with other National Nutrition Month® health fair volunteers including Si Herbers, (pictured with camera) who documented this fun event. Watermarked photos courtesy of Photography by Si Herbers @ PhotoSi Photography. 









Do you extend the learning from nutrition education lessons with engaging activities that elevate the health of your school environment? Tell us your stories! Email [email protected] or share your stories on our Facebook page, 

Tags: Eat Move Win healthy eating for kids high school MyPlate nutrition education nutrition lesson plans Trina Robertson
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

01, March 2017 11:02 AM

Bringing Up Bebe Book

In February, our Silicon Valley District Dietitian Association Book Club reviewed, Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. A journalist by trade, Druckerman shares her American insight on the cultural differences of raising children in Paris, France. 


According to Druckerman, the Parisian parenting style produces children who are gourmet eaters and are good sleepers. Most infants sleep through the night by four months of age and children as young as 3 years can eat a four course gourmet-style meal.

French Culture

Parents, before you begin to feel bad about how well your kids eat and sleep, let me point out some important differences in the French social services. Parents don't have to pay for preschool and have a national day care system that is run by highly-trained, career professionals in which four-course meals are served to all children.

Here is a sample public day care meal:

  • First course: Hearts of palm and tomato salad
  • Second course: Sliced turkey au basilica with rich in Provencal cream sauce
  • Third course: A slice of St. Nectaire cheese with a slice of baguette
  • Fourth course: Kiwi

Hey, if my kids attended Parisian day care, they would likely have bypassed the picky eater phase!

French culture values eating regular, delicious, "sit down" meals. Paris is known for its gourmet food and eating delicious meals is a core part of French culture. Parents and children eat the same food, there's no such thing as a kid’s menu in Paris restaurants.

Parents think it is part of a child’s education to learn to eat a wide variety of foods. They consider it normal to challenge each child to eat new foods on a regular basis. They believe their children can eat almost everything and they do.

French families eat three meals and one afternoon snack. That’s it. No additional snacking between meals. Americans are prolific snackers and value foods that are healthy and convenient.

While most of us do not have access to day care serving amazing gourmet food, there are a few Parisian parenting tips that American parents can consider.

French Parenting Tips


  • Starting at 2 months of age, when your infant cries, “pause” for just a bit to see if they can settle back down on their own.
  • For infants over four to five months of age, do not feed between the hours of midnight and 5 am.
  • First foods to serve infants after breast milk or infant formula: vegetables and fruits rather than cereal.

Older Children:

  • From a very early age, tell your child he or she needs to try new foods (the first tries can be smelling or licking the food).
  • Help your child develop a spirit of adventure about food to acquire a wide and varied palate. Be a good role model and try a wide variety of foods yourself!
  • Everyone in the family eats the same meal. No short- order cooking!
  • Serve less “kid food” and more grownup food. Believe your child can and will eat.
  • Serve children on a regular meal and snack schedule (as defined in the Division of Responsibility).
  • Keep meal times pleasant.
  • Don't permit snacking when it is not a planned eating occasion. Kids can learn to wait. French parents teach their kids that it is good to come to the table hungry.
  • Get children involved in cooking. Here is a fun and easy Yogurt Cake recipe referenced in the book made by children as young as 3 years of age.

Where the Book Falls Short

As dietitians, we would have preferred to see more descriptive menus included in the book to have a better idea of what typical family meals look like. We’re not qualified to confirm or deny that parenting strategies shared in the book are accurate or typical in France (especially outside the city of Paris – the author qualifies her observations are limited to Paris).

We do know from our academic background and experience that the overall patterns for feeding children described in the book are scientifically-based and sound with the exception that French women do not commonly breastfeed their infants (breast feeding infants is highly recommended).

Dietitian Approved

We realize that many ideas in the book are not transferable within the constructs of American culture. And we suggest you don’t get hung up on deciding if French culture is better or worse than ours. We do feel there are some good ideas here to add to your parenting bag of tricks.

Overall, our group recommends the book and suggests pregnant women and mothers of young children put the book on their reading list.

Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Tags: division of responsability family meals Healthy eating healthy eating for kids Maureen Bligh registered dietitian book club snacking
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids

01, March 2017 9:00 AM

March is National Nutrition Month®, time to put yout best fork forward, and spoon, glass and plate for that matter, for healthier eating habits. This month's recipes will help families eat closer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans while having fun too. March is also time to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, so corned beef is of course on the menu. March also marks an important day for diabetes awareness, so we've put together some low- carbohydrate, high-nutrient recipes your family will enjoy. Finally, wrap up the month with healthy breakfast ideas that will put some pep into your step this spring. 

March Family Meal Recipes

Best Fork Forward

Lean Curry Chicken with Orange-Scented Rice with Hot and Sour Soup and Caramelized Spiced Pears; plus Rigatoni, Grilled Vegetable and Chicken Salad, Slow Cooker Oatmeal, Creamy Couscous Florentine and Crunchy Baked Tilapia with Mango Salsa.

Tags: family meals Healthy eating healthy eating for kids healthy eating patterns National Nutrition Month recipes
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

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