19, May 2015 8:24 AM

Did you know that about 26 percent of total calories consumed are snack foods? Given this reality, the nutritional quality of the snacks eaten makes a big difference!

Dairy Council of California recently collaborated with the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior to produce a webinar on the important topic of healthy snacking. How can nutrition professionals help adults and children meet their daily recommended servings from the five food groups when research shows we're snacking more than ever? This webinar provided specific tips and tools to help manipulate the home and office environments to promote healthier eating whether eating meals or snacks.

From Potato Chips to Mini Meals: Optimizing nutrient quality of snacks aired on May 5, 2015, and the archived copy and webinar resources are now available. Webinar speaker, Dr. Keith Ayoob, defined the extent of snacking of both adults and children. He recommends looking for and pushing the positives; what fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy, and whole grain foods does the child/adult like? Make these the go-to, default snacks and combine two or more food group foods to optimize the nutrient quality of snacks. Another strategy suggested by Dr. Ayoob was to focus on purchasing the "trifecta" foods for snacks:

  • Favorite foods
  • Affordable
  • Convenient/available

For instance, combine whole-wheat crackers with cheddar cheese and apple slices for a nutritious, affordable and convenient snack. Milk, cheese and yogurt are especially convenient, affordable and good tasting foods that work well in meals as well as snacks with other food group foods.

The second speaker, Kathryn Hoy, MFN, RD, CDN described evidence-based strategies, using "choice architecture" to make healthier snacking selections. She provided concrete suggestions for arranging the food environment to positively influence eating behaviors.

Simple kitchen makeover ideas were shared. Having grab-and-go healthy snacks in clear containers on the main level of the refrigerator and a fruit bowl (containing at least two types of fruit) within 2 feet of the most common kitchen pathway were two of the many ideas shared. The information is based on the studies completed by Dr. Brian Wansink and his research team at Cornell University.

Learn more by checking out the webinar archive page which includes:

Play Webinar archive

Webinar slide deck

Need a new resources to help others make better snacking choices? Webinar speakers contributed to this handout with 10 Healthy Snacking Tips.

Furthermore, snacks that include protein-rich foods promote satiety, keeping you satisfied longer between meals. Dairy Council of CA partnered with Washington State Dairy Council to develop some tips on optimizing protein intake. Since these tips sheets also include protein rich snacks, they're another excellent resource you can share. 

On an interesting note, after the webinar ended one of my coworkers sent me this message:

"Thought today's webinar was great. I got to thinking and realized that I rarely eat full meals … unless I go out for a meal. I’m a super snacker; mostly healthy snacks. I always have snacky foods at home and at the office and always bring snacks for car rides. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have kids to feed or because I like eating a variety of foods throughout the day, but just thought it was interesting."

The bottom line, eating snacks does not need to be unhealthful if we are intentional about making healthy snack choices from all five food groups. 

Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Tags: food group foods Healthy eating healthy eating patterns healthy snacking protein
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

01, May 2015 9:00 AM

May is for Mothers, so celebrate your mom all month long. Get kids involved in planning and preparing meals for mom that will keep her- and the whole family- healthy and on trend..

May Family Meal Recipes 

Mother's Day

Gorgonzola Stuffed Burgers with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce with Anytime Fruit Shakes and California Summer Salad;  plus California Cheese + Vegetable Sandwich, Basil Pasta Shells, Chocolate Monkey and Cherry Vanilla Bean Milkshakes.

National Women's Health Week

Grilled Eye Round Steaks with Wasabi-Yogurt Cream, Orzo with Spinach and Feta and Grilled Fruit; plus Berries with Custard Sauce, Broccoli + Cheese, Chicken-Pasta Salad with Blueberries and Blackberry Banana Breakfast Smoothies.

Snackify your meals

Chicken Crunchers, Steamed Broccoli and Everybody Loves Chocolate Pudding; plus Cabbage, Carrot and Pineapple Salad, Cheesy Tuna Melts, Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes and Creamy Orange Shakes.

Bone up on health

Chicken Stuffed with Golden Onions + Fontina, Couscous and Green Beans and Peach-Berry Compote with Yogurt and Almonds; plus Falafel with Avocado Spread, Veggie Wraps, Super Fast Smoothies and Spinach Berry Salad.

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

20, April 2015 3:02 PM

Ashley Rosales accepts the Friends of California Dietetic Award on behalf of Dairy Council of CA

Elevating the health of children and parents in California can only be achieved through a coordinated collective impact of community partners. Developing and maintaining relationships that communicate common goals and collaborative services is key to creating healthy communities where we live, learn and play. 

The California Dietetic Association (CDA), which represents 6,500 nutrition and dietetic professionals, empowers nutrition leaders to optimize the state of California’s health through food and nutrition. As Dairy Council of California (CA) supports opportunities to raise awareness of the dietitian's role in delivering credible nutrition education with evidenced-based food and nutrition resources, we place a great deal of value on our partnership with CDA. We are committed to and support registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) having an active voice through participation in health and food system advisory boards, community health collaboratives, policy education workshops and health care conferences. 

Earlier this month, at the CDA’s annual conference in Riverside, this partnership was formally recognized as Dairy Council of CA received the Friends of CDA award. We are honored and proud of this designation, spotlighting our collaborative efforts with community partners and CDA leaders.

In addition to holding leadership roles in community health, Dairy Council of CA also supports the professional development of CDA members on important nutrition topics. At this year's conference, we sponsored the session Probiotics and the Microbiome: Key to Health and Disease Prevention. Presented to a standing-room only crowd, this session provided an important research update about the microbiome and gave RDNs key points to use in practice. Attendees engaged with thoughtful questions to further deepen their understanding of this topic. 

Doing this great work doesn't happen without the support of California's dairy farmers and milk processors, who are truly committed to creating healthier communities through nutrition education. As we graciously accept the ‘Friends of CDA’ award, we want to acknowledge their role in our success. It means a great deal for such a respected and valued partner to recognize the Dairy Council of CA and our RDN staff for our commitment to making healthy eating easier. 

It is with gratitude and appreciation that we accept this honor, and we hope this is only the beginning of the incredible work we can do collectively to elevate the health of Californians through good nutrition and nutrition education.

Ashley Rosales, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist


Tags: community health nutrition education
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

01, April 2015 10:55 AM

planting seeds for lifelong healthy eating with farm to school Living in California is great for a lot of reasons, not least of which is our amazing, year-round produce, fresh meat, milk, cheese, walnuts, almonds and other agricultural products. And just as we teach our kids about the Gold Rush of 1849, we have the opportunity to teach them about our modern-day gold rush -- our bounty of agriculture.

California is a great state for learning about food and nutrition. It's not for nothing that our state is called the salad bowl of America. California ranks No. 1 in agricultural cash receipts, followed by Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Minnesota. California produces more than 400 types of fruits, vegetables, herbs, poultry, dairy, livestock and related crops. Our state leads the nation in more than 110 of these crops, including some products that are only grown in California. Our rice, almonds and walnuts -- among other goods -- are exported around the world. 

April is Garden Month. What better time to put classroom nutrition lessons into real life context with gardens?  Teaching kids about the nutrition of our fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy, meat and grains can encourage healthy eating and an interest in where food comes from. Once you’ve covered nutrition in the classroom, it’s time to make the connection between the food we eat and where it comes from by getting kids out on the ranch to meet the animals, on to the farm to see the seedlings or into a school garden and planting seeds of their own. As an added bonus, classroom nutrition lessons and Farm to School extension activities provide a variety of opportunities to practice Common Core State Standards

Farm to School programs create a link between local farmers and schools, they also can promote food literacy and encourage a lifetime of healthy eating from all five food groups. Combining classroom nutrition lessons with extension activities that teach kids about local farms, dairies and ranches is also a great way to support local agriculture, both in the short term and the long term, when kids grow up to be conscientious consumers. 

children sow seeds with school gardensStudents at Riverside Unified School District in Southern California have been learning about surrounding farms and their produce for a decade now, and Nutrition Services Director Rodney Taylor says he's seen the results. The students eat more local fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria, interact with the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists on staff who encourage healthy eating and learn about eating from all five food groups for optimal health.

"Students have demonstrated the will to make healthy choices for 10 years by consuming the fresh fruit and vegetables served on the salad bar daily," Taylor said. "At RUSD Nutrition Services, we firmly believe that early intervention truly can impact lifelong healthy eating habits, which is what we seek to do in our food service program."

Starting a campus garden can give kids hands-on experience with planting seeds, growing food, and can make learning about nutrition more immediate. It's a match made in heaven -- kids eager to expand their palates and learn about healthy eating, and a state that is well able to meet their needs with its fertile soil, frequent sunshine and booming farms, dairies and ranches. To start a garden this spring, visit our garden seeds page.

Whether you’re in California, Colorado or Connecticut, take advantage of all the resources available to teach nutrition in your classroom and make Farm to School connections with the cafeteria, school garden and more. For more information about the Farm to School program, click here

Tags: common core state standards farm to school nutrition education nutrition lesson plans
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

01, April 2015 8:00 AM

April is National Stress Awareness Month! Since both physical activity and food choices can go a long way towards managing and reducing stress, we’ve assembled some of our favorite recipes to help you all month long. Remember to choose foods and activities every month of the year that will reduce your level of stress, improve your mood, and promote a healthy lifestyle.

April Family Meal Recipes 

Take a Hike

Creamy Asparagus Pasta with Custard Berry Parfait and Walnut Parmesan Biscuits;  plus Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie, Bran MuffinAll Natural Oatmeal Banana Cookies and Breakfast Burrito.

Improve Your Mood

Chicken Parmesan Sandwich, Fruit Cocktail Salad and Power Orange Smoothie; plus Chickpeas and Spinach Salad with Cumin Dressing and Yogurt Sauce, Creamy Broccoli Fish Bake, Vegetarian Reuben with Russian Dressing and Awesome Banana Walnut Shake.

Picnic Day

Tuna and Walnut Pasta Salad, Cheddar Bay Biscuits and Freckled Lemonade; plus Blueberry Crepes with Maple Cream, Stuffed Portabellas with Gorgonzola/Balsamic/Rosemary Reduction, Chicken Quesadillas and Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.

Stress Busters

Grilled Pork Tenderloins with Maple Mustard MarinadeLow-fat Cheesy Potatoes and Asparagus + Mushroom Salad; plus Blueberry Cobbler Breakfast Bars, Flaxseed Muffins, Carrot Salad and Italian Vegetable Hoagies.

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

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