Love is in the air during February. Hearts, chocolate and more are on the menu this month with these family meal ideas featuring all five food groups.
February Family Meal Recipes
Mexican Lasagna, Jicama Salad with Chile and Lime, and Honey Baked Bananas; plus Brussels Sprouts with Sherry Asiago Cream Sauce, Creamy Banana Walnut Oatmeal, Tandoori Chicken, Balsamic Yogurt Grilled Vegetables.
Chef Meg's Cocoa Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Cold Cherry Soup and Roasted Bananas with Chocolate Yogurt Cream; plus Chocolate Chili, Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal, Cod with Spicy Orange and Black Cherry Sauce, with Couscous, Chocolate Mocha Mudslides.
Tuscan Tomato Turkey Burger, Cold Beet Soup (Chukandar Soup) and Strawberry Banana Blast; plus Red, White and Green Grilled Cheese, Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Mini Pies, Citrus-Ginger Roasted Beets and Carrots, Broccoli and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta.
Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes, Winter Squash Soup, and Boston Lettuce Salad; plus Garlic Roasted Red Skin Potato Soup, Pork Tenderloin with Dijon-Fennel Rub + Sweet Potato Fries, Sweetie Pie Quesadillas, Garden Potato Salad.
With the popularity of information sharing on sites like Facebook and Twitter comes the risk of perpetuating inaccurate and even harmful information, photos and "urban legends". As a result, services like Snopes and Fact Checker offer consumers reasonable guidance on separating fact from fiction online.
The access to information provided online raises the same concerns for sharing inaccurate or exaggerated nutrition claims. Luckily, the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance (FANSA), a partnership of nationally recognized and credible health organizations, is dedicated to providing accurate nutrition information to consumers and health professionals. The combined membership of FANSA organizations includes more than 120,000 food, nutrition and medical practitioners and scientists.
The Alliance developed the following 10 “red flags” of junk science to help consumers recognize exaggerated or false claims:
1. Recommendations that promise a quick fix
2. Claims that sound too good to be true
3. Simple conclusions drawn from a complex study
4. Recommendations based upon a single study
5. Dramatic statements that are refuted by a reputable scientific organization
6. Recommendations based upon studies without peer review
7. Recommendations based upon studies that ignore differences among individuals or groups
8. Dire warnings of danger from a single product
9. Lists of “good” and “bad” foods
10. Recommendations made to help sell a product, or by the manufacturer itself
For more information, read the article "How to Separate Fact from Fiction.”
Teachers in middle school or high school may want to use this text in the classroom as a critical thinking activity that aligns with English Language Learning (ELA) Common Core State Standards to help students distinguish between fact and marketing hype. Sample activities:
Ask students to bring in a magazine article with advertisements or health claims. With a partner, have them identify articles/ads that seem “too good to be true” and discuss why they would question the findings.
Have each pair create a check-list of ways to affirm that an article is scientifically sound, and then have pairs share their ideas with the class.
So the next time you read something online or hear about the "next best thing" when it comes to nutrition, take a moment to try and spot any of these red flags. Until then, please continue to eat moderate portions of variety of foods from all five food groups. It might not sound terribly exciting, but it's sound nutritional science.
“It’s Not Nutrition Until It’s Eaten!” This is the theme of the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of California (SLM of CA), a coalition of seven agencies across California dedicated to low or no-cost ways to make the healthy choice the easy choice in the school lunch line. As part of its commitment to community health, Dairy Council of California and the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of California are offering online and in person trainings to help school foodservice personnel reduce plate waste and increase student nutrition.
The SLM was created by the Cornell Center’s for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Program (the BEN Center) and is based on the research-based strategies of using behavioral economics to nudge children to make healthy choice. The BEN Center has since driven the SLM through Food & Brand Lab research with school environments and implemented SLM principles into schools across the country. SLM is a grassroots effort where changes are made within the school lunchroom environment that nudges kids towards making more healthful foods like fruits, vegetables and low-fat milk.
The Smarter Lunchrooms core values include:
The Smarter Lunchrooms six principles are:
In conjunction with the California School Nutrition Association (CSNA) meeting in late 2014, representatives and proponents of the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement in California gathered to showcase their best practices and results at a recent reception. Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction (pictured at right), congratulated SLM school districts on making the healthy choices the easy choice. Torlakson, a long-time advocate of student health, remarked on the success of the SLM initiative statewide and the partnership of the seven agencies has now trained over 150 California public school districts and over 500 staff in less than two years.
"CSNA is dedicated to the professional growth and learning of our members. I am happy to see school foodservice professionals in California joining the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement," said CSNA president Agnes Lally (also pictured at right). "Having the support of the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of California collaborative partners is providing the training and support to engage us in activating this movement within our schools."
SLM continues to grow in California, due in part to the USDA’s adoption of SLM into mandated student wellness policy and award programs. California partners, Kaiser Permanente, California Department of Education, Dairy Council of California, UC Cal Fresh Nutrition Education Program, California Food Policy Advocates, the California Department of Public Health, The California Endowment and Cornell’s Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs will host training sessions statewide during March and April 2015.
Read more on the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of California, including a listing of the dates and locations for trainings. Additionally, the SLM of CA has launched a Technical Advising Professional network to provide hands-on support to districts, following their training program. The Smarter Lunchroom Movement of California is indeed moving!
Nearly half of Americans make some kind of New Year's resolutions, so we're offering a new, streamlined tool to help those resolution makers achieve success with a healthy eating plan.
In just three easy steps, the all-new Healthy Eating Planner helps you assess your eating habits, learn basic health and nutrition recommendations and set a realistic goal for improvement.
Step One: set your benchmark. The Healthy Eating Planner helps you review your eating habits and examine your food intake to determine areas for improvement. Progress, not perfection, is the goal here. Do you tend to skip breakfast? Do you prepare meals at home? These questions are designed to help you examine your habits to identify areas for improvement and goal setting.
Step Two: learn how you are doing. A nutrition calculator helps you to examine how your eating patterns compare with the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Are you eating balanced meals with enough food group foods? By identifying your individual health concerns and life stage information, you'll receive personalized recommendations and tailored information in order to create a plan in step three.
Step Three: make a plan. Setting small, achievable eating and activity goals based on the information shared in steps one and two is the third and final step in creating the healthy eating plan. These goals focus primarily on adding activities and foods to your diet rather than restricting choices.
If you're interested in creating healthier eating and activity habits in the New Year, take a moment to complete the Healthy Eating Planner and let us know what you think. For additional information, this series of articles explores some of the science behind setting goals and creating healthy habits.
Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
The New Year is a wonderful time to start instilling healthy habits like family meals or meal planning. To help you in these efforts, here are the weekly themes and recipes we'll be sharing all month long.
January Family Meal Recipes
Hungarian Beef Goulash, Noodle Kugel and Chocorazz Smoothies; plus Pulled Pork with Carmelized Onions, Apple Yogurt Coleslaw, Zesty Meatball Sandwiches and Slow Cooker Oatmeal.
Skillet Gnocci with Chard and White Beans, Peanut Butter Pork Skewers and Apple Dippers; plus Ziti Alfredo with Vegetables, Low Fat Cha Cha Chalupas, Basil Green Beans and All Natural Oatmeal Banana Cookies.
Root Vegetable Gratin, Rosemary Oven "Fried" Chicken, Cinnamon Stewed Apples, Lower Fat Parsnip and Potato Cassarole, Roasted Pears with Cheddar Crumble, Sweet Potato Gnocci with Light Bolognese, Polenta with Winter Squash, Gorgonzola and Walnuts.
Sunday Sausage Strata, Ginger Almond Pears, Green Tea Smoothies, Italian Tomato Eggs, Banana Cinnamon French Toast, Avgolemono Chicken Soup, Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Red Onions, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Capers, and Tarragon.
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Healthyeating.org is brought to you by Dairy Council of California. The mission of this website is to educate on issues of nutrition and healthy eating. For instance, our calcium calculator helps people decide how much of the recommended daily allowance of calcium they need (and are getting); our 'healthy eating quiz’ is a nutrition test and assessment tool or online nutrition app useful for parents and teachers interested in nutrition and health. Our free nutrition lesson plans help teachers from kindergarten to high school teach nutrition and healthy eating. And, of course, our milk nutrition and dairy nutrition facts offer information on topics such as milk and bone health and the health benefits of probiotics. While you're here, enjoy tips, online games, and quizzes to help get kids to eat healthy includingkid-friendly recipes!