Let’s start with our Soda Free Summer campaign. The goal of the campaign is to reduce consumption of soda and sugary drinks among children and adults in Boston.   As the summer temperature rises so does the consumption of these drinks. The average person eats almost 100 pounds of sugar a year, and the largest source of added sugar in the U.S. diet is sugary beverages. This campaign is to raise awareness that these drinks typically have lots of calories and no nutritional benefits.  

Consumption of soda and sugary beverages has been shown to increase risk for obesity and other chronic health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These issues are very much a reality for Boston residents, as 52% of adults in Boston are overweight or obese, and almost half of Boston high school students are overweight or at risk of being overweight.   

 

Just how much sugar are we drinking?

A 12 ounce can of non –diet soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.

A 20 ounce bottle of non-diet soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar.

To put this in perspective, drinking one 12-ounce can of soda per day can result in a weight gain of 15 extra pounds per year. Drinking one 20-ounce bottle of soda can lead to 25 extra pounds in a year.

Any reduction in consumption is a step in the right direction. Replacing soda with healthier options such as water, water with fruit slices, unsweetened tea, low fat dairy, or seltzer will have positive health benefits. The greatest benefit will be seen by those who reduce their consumption the most, or eliminate soda entirely. To support selecting a healthier option, CLICK here for the quick and easy Raspberry Sprizter. For other helpful information on selecting healthy beverages, CLICK here
 The Soda – Free Summer campaign is a fun way to encourage individuals and youth organizations to take the pledge to be soda free for the summer.     When taking the pledge, individuals have two options:

  1. I pledge to not drink soda this summer
  2. I pledge to reduce the amount of soda I drink this summer

 

Take the Soda-Free Summer Challenge and re-energize your life!

www.bphc.org/sodafreesummer  or www.Facebook.com/HealthyBoston

The second exciting thing about summer is that local produce is now available at Boston‘s farmers’ markets.  The array of produce is fresh-picked so it has not lost any nutritional value in the time it takes to travel long distances that may happen at grocery stores.  The variety of produce makes this the perfect opportunity to try new vegetables such as garlic scapes, which are the early tops of garlic as it’s growing. It’s great chopped as garnish or to add a mild garlic flavor to dishes.   Right now scallions, summer squash, cucumbers a variety of lettuces and salad mix are available.  As the summer progresses, I personally can’t wait for fresh tomatoes.Most of markets around the city have the capacity to accept EBT for individuals using food stamps.  If you would like more information of Boston‘s farmers’ markets dates and times as well as the Boston Bounty Bucks  program  CLICK  here.

 So let’s get out and have fun in Boston this summer, drinking healthy beverages to quench our thirst, and eating local produce to energize ourselves.

So as we think about healthy food for 2010, here are some thoughts to get you going on all of the top three resolutions and still keep you on budget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy eating means to ditch the extreme diets.   People almost always fail when trying to follow extreme diet plans, because diets are difficult for many of us to stick with over time.  So instead of eliminating certain foods or paying for diet plans, try writing down what you eat for several days, and evaluate where you can cut back 100 calories per day.   Much of the health data indicates that cutting back by 100 calories per day can lead to sustainable weight loss of pound a month.   

When thinking about cutting calories, don’t forget to think about your drinks.  Cutting out sugary drinks such as soda and other sweetened beverages, can be a quick way to save   150 -200 calories.  Try drinking tap water or other non- sugary drinks.   To get started here’s a free website to help you track your calories and other tips for healthy eating www.Sparkpeople.com

Healthy eating and losing weight also means not skipping meals.      Individuals who successfully lose weight and keep it off are those who consistently report eating breakfast.   A morning meal rich in fiber such as whole grains and small amounts protein slows the passage of food through the digestive system and provides you with a more satisfying feeling.   This feeling of fullness helps curb appetite to keep you satisfied for 3-4 hours until you’re ready for a healthy snack or lunch.

For the same price as you pay for a sugary donut or muffin and coffee to go, a healthy bowl of oatmeal or muesli with fruit  can satisfy, provide fewer calories,  and maintain  blood sugar levels  to start your day off toward maintaining  your goal.   Check out these power breakfast ideas to fuel your day.   http://www.eatingwell.com/blogs/hilary_meyer/2009_07_15/power_breakfasts_to_fuel_your_day

Fill your plate with colorful vegetables throughout the day.  There are many more vegetables to try other than lettuce and tomatoes! Bright-colored and dark green leafy vegetables are especially loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. They are also high in fiber, which as mentioned makes them very filling. In addition, they are low in calories – good to help trim the waistline. When you fill up your stomach with veggies, you will be less likely to feel the urge to binge on other high-fat or processed foods.

To save on food costs, look for fresh produce that is in-season. Right now, citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and clementines are reasonably priced.  Collard greens, kale and turnips, squashes, and sweet potatoes are all lower priced.   Watch your grocery flyers for sales on frozen vegetables without sauce and stock up.   Here’s a link to check out winter fruits and vegetables.  http://www.foodfit.com/healthy/healthywinterfoods.asp

 Try getting organized and begin with planning your meals.  This step will save you money and time.   If you plan out what you are having for meals, you can utilize foods for more than one meal to reduce waste, for example chicken from dinner meal can be added to a tortilla wrap with fresh veggies for an easy to prepare lunch.  This will save you from spending extra on take out lunches.  

 For new ideas on planning your meals, check out many of the popular women magazines in grocery stores, they often promote weekly or month menus that are cost effective on the budget.  Here is on-line link to support menu planning.   http://www.mealsmatter.org/MealPlanning/MealPlanner/index.aspx

So as a New Year begins, let’s look toward healthier ideas that will save money, time, and will be high in nutrients but low in calories to keep us well in 2010.

  Happy New Year everyone!

We are finally back to school and to what feels like the beginning of the days getting shorter and the evenings colder.   I just want to remind you that Farmer’s Markets are still going strong and offer a great variety of late summer and fall produce. 

gourds This weekend,   Mattapan is hosting their Harvest Festival & Perennial Divide on Saturday. http://www.bostonnatural.org/PDFs/evtHarvestFestival09.pdf

 On Sunday, Community Servings Farmer’s market will be hosting Earthworks and you can taste some fresh apple cider from one of the local orchards in Boston.

http://servings.org/about/news_item.cfm?news_id=245

 Along with the festiveness of this weekend, Farmer’s Market’s still have some of the best offerings that include late summer tomatoes. You have to admit that tomatoes taste their best picked right from the garden or the farm, and we all know you cannot get a good tasting tomato in the middle of winter!   Tomatoes are a terrific source of vitamin C, with a touch of vitamin A, potassium and fiber. Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that may slow down aging of the skin and may be beneficial against certain cancer and heart disease.

 Cooking may actually increase the health benefits of this fruit.   So how do you preserve the great taste and health benefits longer?   I find that roasting and freezing is a great way to preserve tomatoes and is not as expensive or intimating as traditional canning.  Simply slice, roast and freeze and savor the flavors during the colder seasons.    Here a couple of recipes for roasting or freezing tomatoes:  

http://www.relishmag.com/recipes/view/40305/teresas-freezer-tomato-sauce.html

 p://www.instructables.com/id/E1LNGBK0I0EQZJIA3W/

 The fall growing season can also bring another opportunity to try hearty greens that you may have missed in the early growing season.  These include   kale, collards, spinach, cabbage and others which are good food sources of calcium, and iron.  Broccoli and cauliflower is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin K, foliate and fiber.  As the weather gets cooler, try preparing greens in soups with combinations of beans for protein and you have a quick and easy meal that can satisfy and reduce the amount of meat that we consume.   Here a couple of farmer’s   market recipes and other favorites that will please your family and your budget:  

http://www.massfarmersmarkets.org/FMFM_Main.aspx

http://www.mass.gov/agr/markets/farmersmarkets/resources_consumers_recipes.htm

http://www.recipezaar.com/Healthy-Bean-Soup-With-Kale-55796

http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=577195

 

 So   here’s the reminder of the dates, and times of the many markets in the city. 

Farmers Market Schedule

Don’t forget your EBT card to take advantage of Boston Bounty Bucks!   Try a couple of new fall recipes on your family.   Along with the variety of vegetables come the fall fruits, crisp apples and fragrant pears.  These fruits are a good source of soluble fiber and potassium and both are delicious in sweet and savory dishes.  Join me next week as talk about seasonal apples and all the free orchards available in the city.

Well, we have gotten the pens, pencils and back to school clothes ready to go!   Let’s also make sure we are set health wise!

  • Every year we hear “Must start off the day with healthy breakfast”, sounds great, but what’s a hurried parent to what do we’re rushed to catch the school bus, as well as get ourselves ready and out the door. 

Here some general tips :

Prepare as much in advance so that you’re not getting things ready in the morning. Set out cereal bowls and high fiber cereal the night before so in the mornings just pour the low-fat milk.

 Have handy easy to go fruits, such as bananas, peaches nectarines that can be easy eaten as you go.   

On the weekends, prepare these easy grab and go breakfast treats to save time during the week.

 toasted cerealOh Parents don’t forget to grab some for your breakfast too!

  •  

During the day, kids need to stay hydrated, water is the best way.  To save  money and cut down on amount of plastic going into the environment , purchase the aluminum water bottles and fill them with water to swap out those sugary drinks.  These cool bottles come in a variety of colors and designs so I’m sure you can find one that will appears to your kid too!  

  • Check your school lunch menu.  With all the nutritional concerns about childhood obesity schools have really stepped up and are making lots of improvements.   So talk to your kids about giving school lunch a positive try.   

  Don’t forget to complete the forms to have your child receive lunch in school.

 If you do have to prepare lunches here‘s a couple of sites with great ideas for packing healthy lunches that will provide nourishment to your kids but not break your budget. 

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_eating_kids

http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/home_22366_ENU_HTML.htm

 

 Be careful of those convenient highly processed lunch items.  They are high in fat and salt with limited fiber. These products are just advertisements with little nutrition to support healthy kids learning.

  • Another health essential that we don’t want to forget is hand sanitizers.  What an easy way to cut down on sick days!   Stock up on the little packable ones or the individual packets.   Be sure to talk to your kids about covering their mouths when coughing, and using the sanitizers multiple times during the day if they don’t have an opportunity to wash their hands with soap and water.

After school activities and snacks are just as important as the school day.  At some schools, kids sometimes eat lunch long before noon, which means they’re ready for an energy booster by 3 pm.  It’s easy for them to reach for the wrong foods if healthy options aren’t quick and easy for them to grab. One way is to provide tempting grab-and-go snacks that contain protein, iron, calcium and fiber to help power them through an afternoon.  Check out these healthy snacks ideas that are enjoyed by kids. 

 A cheesy chicken quesadilla (recipes follow) is a kid-friendly staple that serves as a perfect mini-meal. The chicken and cheese provide protein, while the seasonings add plenty of flavors. Using whole-wheat tortillas adds fiber and fills kids so they don’t they have to eat the whole thing — a quarter might be just enough for a little afternoon pick-me-up. 

Chicken quesadillas

 Home-made energy bars are great for any time of day.  In this recipe your can substitute with any other dried fruit that your child will enjoy.  The walnuts and oats provide protein and fiber, and the honey gives an extra kick of sweetness.  

chocoberrybarsFor a snack on the go, sweet & salty crunchy munch combines Chex cereal, popcorn, goldfish and bagel chips. Throw some in a plastic snack bag for your child to eat almost any time. If you think your children need a little more protein, you can add some unsalted peanuts and cashews.

crunchy muchIf you have any question on healthy food on a budget just post your questions

 As we just celebrated Mother’s Day, and  the kids made dinner,  It also  reinforced  with  me that many joyful and memorable experiences do not have  to break our budget to be accomplished and that cooking at home with children not only  create family fun, but also teach our children healthy eating habits. 

Cooking together can be a delicious learning experience where kids can explore new foods, learn about healthy eating, and develop math and reading skills as they measure and read directions. These simple guidelines are designed to help you make cooking safe and fun, and to entice your children into trying something new! 

Tips for cooking activities can benefit the whole family. 

  1. Learning to cook helps children to learn about healthy choices. Young people today are growing up with fast food and many choices for unhealthy foods at their fingertips, which is one part of the reason why childhood obesity is on the rise! Teaching your kids to cook healthy foods will help instill skills to last them a lifetime.  The cooking skills learned as child can be especially helpful when kids are older, and can make healthier   food choices to and on their own.
  2. Create family time and bonding. Take time to cook with your kids, and they will have memories that they, in turn, can pass on to their families. It may take a longer time to get the meal or snack done, but the moments with your children will be priceless. (Just remember to have patience and don’t worry about what gets spilled on the floor).  Cooking together, children contribute to the family and they can feel the importance of helping. They are also working together as a team, whether it is with a parent or with a sibling to get the job done.

3.  Children will be more apt to eat what they make.    

Perhaps it is the enthusiasm  creating something themselves, but they will be more likely to eat whatever they had a hand in making.   Cooking new foods is one way to expand your child’s taste buds.

 Remember the basic goals of healthy cooking at home are to reduce the unhealthy fats,  and lower the salt, and sugar in many of the dishes we prepare.  Here are healthy recipes that incorporate these principles and have been tried and accepted well by children.  Just click away.   

So as we watch our food budget and continue to discuss preparing meals at home, don’t forget that the kids can become great chefs too! 

Tip for this week:

 All the major grocery stores in the Boston have yogurt on sale this week.  Here is a delicious recipe for yogurt parfait that children can make with just yogurt, fruit and whole grain cereal.   Serve this for dessert or as a quick breakfast.

 

breakfast_parfait

As part of our March Nutrition Month focus on ‘rethinking your drink’, let’s look at juice.

Health professional all agree that getting plenty of fruits and vegetables is key to lowering your risk for heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer.  So what is the best way to take in fruits and vegetables?    While both whole produce and juices count towards the achieving the recommended nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables, there are important differences in how your body processes the whole and juice versions.   

What IS juice?

Juice is the liquid version of fruits or vegetables, produced through a squeezing or pulverizing process.  But beware of products with labels like “fruit drinks” or “juice drinks” that may contain little to no actual fruit or vegetable juice.    Only buy products that say “100% juice” and that don’t have sugar as an ingredient.

Let’s check some of the Pros and Cons of juices:

 Pros: In a few cases, the juiced form makes important nutrients more accessible than the whole fruit:

·         The nutrient lycopene, which is a protective factor against prostate cancer, in tomato juice is actually better absorbed from tomato juice than fresh tomatoes. 

·         Commercially squeezed orange juice contains more antioxidants and other   added beneficial nutrients such as calcium that is not found in an orange.

 Cons:  In general, the cons of juices outweigh the pros.

·          Because they’re more concentrated, juices contain increased calorie and sugar content while losing the fiber found in whole fruits.  Each of these has the effect of raising levels of blood sugar which can contribute to development or complications of diabetes.   The difference in calories and sugar between whole fruit and fruit juice is astounding.  For example, a 16-ounce bottle of orange juice contains about 240 calories and 14 teaspoons of sugar!  A medium size orange, on the other hand, contains just 60 calories and 4 teaspoons of sugar.   Similarly, a 16-ounce bottle of apple juice contains about 220 calories and 13 teaspoons of sugar, while a medium size apple has just 55 calories and 4 teaspoons of sugar. 

·         In addition to having fewer calories, the fiber in whole fruit of the orange or apple fills you up and also helps to keep your blood sugar levels from spiking and then crashing.  This is because the fiber slows down your body’s absorption of the sugar in the fruit.   Check out the sugar content of juice compared with fruit.

ü  To make sure you’re getting the best deal for your buck, read the label and look for 100% juice, BUT don’t stop there.

Carefully read the label and select nutrient –dense juices, those with the highest percentage of nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, folate and that are fortified with calcium.  It’s also important to read the ingredient label to know exactly which juices are in the product you’re buying.  The label lists ingredients in order of abundance, from most to least.  A bottle of “100% Apple and Pomegranate Juice” turns out to have apple juice listed first, so you’re probably getting very little pomegranate juice, with its good nutrients.

ü  Beware of “juice drinks”, “fruit drinks” or “juice cocktails”.

These beverages often contain little or even no fruit juice.  You’ll be getting the same or even more calories and sugar as in 100% fruit juice without any of its vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants.  “Juice drinks” are often made to look like fruit juice.  The pictures of fruit and the words “all natural” are confusing to customers.  But if you read the label carefully, you can see how much juice the drink actually contains – usually 0-10% juice, with no significant amounts of any vitamins.  It is really more like sugar water.  Calories without nutrients are called “empty calories”.  For about 240 calories and 13 teaspoons of sugar per 16 ounce bottle, that is a lot of calories being wasted (more like waisted…).  For more information on reading the label, go to Healthy Messages.

ü  Watch your juice portions.

Recommended juice portions are   4 to 6 ounces per day, with the goal to meet the balance of fruits and vegetable needs through fresh, frozen or canned produce.   It’s easy to go over this recommended intake from the common size of bottles found for individual sale. They are usually 12 to 16 ounces, which is two or more times the recommended daily intake.  If you do make these purchases, share your drink or save some for the next day.

For more tips on healthy juice, click here.

I used to save coupons when the kids were small and my budget was really tight. I did pretty well then and somehow over the years I had gotten out the practice.  Now I’m back to using coupons again and I have to admit that some things have changed but the basics for clipping and saving with coupons have not.

I first like to think of coupons as money to keep myself motivated to bring them to the store!   If I am going to purchase a product and there is a coupon for a small amount off, then that‘s money saved.  It may seem like too much work for small savings but if you maximize your coupon use over time, the savings do add up. Here are some strategies to get you organized and on your way to saving and achieving that great thrill when you see you grocery bill get reduced by using coupons.

Clipping coupons:

Timing Try to choose the same day and time to clip your grocery or store coupons each week.  This will help you establish a routine.  I like to do mine at the beginning of the week, either on Sundays or Mondays.

Method when it comes to clipping your free grocery coupons, here are several methods to choose from…

* Clip them all out.  This is a quick way to clip the grocery coupons and is also an easy job you can assign to an older child.  Later, you can sort out which coupons you need to keep and which coupons you can share with a friend.

* Clip out only the coupons you know you will use.  This might take a little more time as you will need to look at (and think about) each individual coupon as you cut them out, but will save time later when filing them away and when going through them for use each week.

* Don’t clip out any of the coupons, but save them in their whole page form. This method takes longer in the end, but it will do when you’re really pressed for time.  I once had a month’s worth of coupon flyers to go through before leaving for the grocery store, not very fun!

* Find savings on the internet. The Sunday flyers are always a good place to start for clipping, but you can also look to the internet.  For online coupons, sign up using an email address and there may be small surveys on products to complete. Once that’s set, you will receive great coupons for products that are specific to what you selected. Here is the link: Print Coupons. 

Storing Coupons: This where the organization really comes in handy. Decide how you want to organize your coupons so that you can see what you have on a regular basis. Here are some ideas:

* Small index boxes or shoe boxes. You can usually find these at discount stores.
* A binder with clear plastic inserts is a great way to see your coupons. Add dividers either to sort by different products or by expiration date.
* I like to use a photo album. It’s smaller than a standard binder and I can carry it more easily in my bag,

Saving with coupons:  Maximize your coupon potential.

* Scan store sale flyers to find matching items. One of the best ways to save money with coupons is to match them with items that are already on sale. The key is use coupons on products that you typically purchase.
* Only purchase new products with the coupon when it is lower priced than comparable store brand.  
* Check with the store for their coupons. Grocery stores generally do not list everything they have on sale in their weekly sale flyers, so while matching your grocery coupons to the store flyers is a huge help, there will also be some additional sales you may have coupons for. Simply bring your coupon organizer with you to the store each week, and this way you can take advantage of the specials without forgetting to bring your coupons. If you can match it with a manufacturer’s coupon, then the savings really feel good.

Last tip:  When the end of the month is drawing near, I like to take a quick look through my coupons for any that might be expiring soon. Manufacturers set many of their coupons to expire on either the first or last day of the month, so keep an eye out for both dates and take any that you need to the store that week before they expire!

Share your coupon tips with us!

 Weekly Food Forecast –

This week, stores are running specials on canned soups.  This is an opportunity to save by using coupons offered in this week’s Sunday flyers with the matched sale.  Stock up for quick, easy meals, pairing the soup with whole grain bread and a salad.  Try and select the low-sodium varieties whenever possible or increase the water and add vegetables to regular soups to help keep the sodium (salt) level down.

I saved on soups when I purchased four on sale and used a $2.00 off coupon, so I actually only paid for two.  Now I have a quick lunch to bring to work that only cost me about 3.00 (that’s adding in crackers and a piece of fruit for dessert).