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

 Sometimes we think farmer’s markets are not cheap and in this economy everyone is watching their budget tightly, however farmers’ markets are beneficial for both your personal finances and for your local economy.  Farmers’ markets provide closer, fresher, and more nutritious foods for just slightly more than or equal to the price of produce at a supermarket. 

 For some neighborhoods in the inner city, supermarkets are usually far away.   If you cannot pay the extra transportation costs, this leaves people with the limited selections offered at small grocery stores, convenient stores and fast food restaurants.   All of these are places where prices are high, products are processed, and fresh fruits and vegetables are poor quality or non-existent.     Since the smaller stores lack the ability to buy in huge quantities like chain supermarkets, they pay more for the products and produce they sell.  Their prices may also be higher due to higher property costs, higher security costs, higher shrinkage (loss of products due to theft and waste), and higher employee turnover, these costs are all pass onto the consumer.

 When a farmers’ market in your community is open, residents should take advantage of the opportunity to buy some of highest quality food available for themselves and for their family.  The farmers do not have to charge for transportation and middle-men costs. In addition, most  of them take WIC and Senior coupons.  Half of them take EBT, and if you are using EBT, check out Boston’s Bounty Bucks’ to find out how you can double your purchasing power!   

Perhaps the most interesting financial benefit of shopping at farmers’ markets is the impact it has on the local economy.  A lot of people don’t think about where their money goes after it is spent.  When you buy produce from supermarkets, the majority of the money you spend goes to the supermarket corporation, whose headquarters may be thousands of miles away.  Only a fraction of every dollar goes back to the farmers themselves.  This is part of the reason why most large farms are subsidized by the government.  They are actually running at a deficit because of the low return they receive for their products.

 When you buy produce directly from the farmers, they get 100% of the money.  They then reinvest a lot of this money back into their local or regional economy.  Small farms are more likely to buy equipment and supplies from other small businesses in the area, and are also providing jobs for local residents.  Local farms stands and businesses are also more likely to stock and sell products from other local merchants.  Since the money you give them stays and re-circulates in your neighborhood, you actually reap more of a benefit from it in the long term. A study by the New Economics Foundation in London found that every pound (or dollar) spent on local goods generates nearly twice as much income for the local economy as money spent in national chain stores

 So contrary to popular belief, farmers’ markets are more beneficial to you than supermarkets.  For the same money that you would spend at the supermarket on produce that has been sitting in warehouses and on trucks, you can by fresh, delicious, and more nutritious produce. Often you can find a greater variety of produce at the farmer’s market, because the grocery store purchases on volume and cannot store different varieties in small quantities.

 Shopping at your local farmers’ markets can impact your health, as we had discussed in one of the past blogs, but it can have an even deeper impact, because you will be helping to support your neighborhood, small farmers, and your wallet! 

 The sight of fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the farm, and the interaction with people who grew them, leaves a good taste in your mouth for the summer, but it might offer a reconnection to nature and to where food actually comes from all year long. 

 Come join us at many of the farmer’s markets in Boston.  Here’s the listing of times,  and location.

By Phoebe Fleming from Project Bread

As we approach the closing of schools, we may overlook lunch – an important meal that children should be eating even though they are not in school.  The solution is The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) which provides free, healthy meals to children and teens up to age 18.    The free meals are available at specific Boston locations during the summer months. The SFSP is a safe, fun way for children to get nutritious meals when school is not in session, and it’s easy to participate since no sign up or identification is required.

 Why is there a summer meals program?

During the school year, many families can stretch their food budget by applying for free or reduced price school meals for their children.   The School Lunch Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

When school is not in session, families often find it difficult to pay the additional meal costs.  During the summer months, without the opportunity to meet this need, children may be at risk for hunger and malnutrition, which could put them at a disadvantage when they return to school in September.  By providing free, nutritious meals and opportunities to continue physical and social development throughout the summer, the SFSP ensures that children return to school ready to learn.

What are the meals like?

Most sites serve lunch and some may offer other meals such as breakfast, snack, or supper. All food served as part of the SFSP must meet federal nutritional guidelines. Meals may be hot, cold, or a combination of both and include milk, fruit and/or vegetables, grains, and a meat or meat alternate (egg, yogurt, nuts, etc.).

Where?

SFSP sites are located in schools, parks, pools, neighborhood centers, faith based organizations, social service agencies, and other local sites in Boston and throughout Massachusetts. In addition to healthy meals, sites often feature supervised recreational or educational activities for kids such as sports, arts and crafts, books, and games.

 How to Get Involved

For more information about the Summer Food Service Program, CALL Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 or visit www.meals4kids.org   from July 1st through August 31st.

This  blog is in response to a request from a consumer who asked for tips on how to manage to prepare healthy meals on a regular basis.  The best way to start is to Stock a Healthy Kitchen.

It’s easy to get frustrated choosing what to make for a healthy meal, especially dinner, after a busy day at work.  The best way to ensure that you can prepare a healthy nourishing meal that is not loaded with calories, fats, salt and added sweeteners is to stock a healthy kitchen.  A stocked pantry will make it easier to prepare and serve a healthy meal with the least amount of effort. Quick meals can be just as nutritious as those that require lengthy preparation time. Basically, it’s all dependent on what foods or staples you have and how much time you have for preparation.

Getting your pantry, refrigerator and freezer stocked with healthy items DOES NOT have to break your budget.  Start slowly and add ingredients, utensils as you increase your recipes and cooking skills.  Spring time is the perfect time to think about cleaning out, and restocking.  Here are some suggestions that can make your meal preparation a pleasure rather than a stressful situation.  

 

Keep in dry storage (pantry)  

Canned goods and bottled items

  • Canned beans –cannellini, great northern, and chick peas black, red and kidney beans. 
  • Low sodium  chicken, beef or vegetable broths
  • Tomatoes,   diced, puree, whole and sauce,
  •  Light or white tuna and salmon, water packed
  • Fruits canned in juice
  •  White wine ( Non alcohol variety is available )

Vegetables /fruits and nuts

  • Potatoes , russets  and red
  • Onions , yellow and red
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Dried fruits  all varieties
  • Nuts- almonds,  walnuts, pecans 

Oils and condiments

  • Canola or Vegetable oil for cooking
  • Spray oils canola or olive 
  • Extra virgin olive oil for cooking and salad dressings
  • Reduced –fat mayonnaise
  • Vinegars- balsamic, red–wine, rice –wine, apple cider and white.
  • Sauces,  barbecue, or marinades
  • Lite Soy sauce,  hoisin sauce 
  • Ketchup

Flavorings

  • Iodized salt
  • Kosher salt,  sea salt
  • Black peppercorns
  • Onions  fresh and dried
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried herbs,- bay leaves, sage , thyme leaves, oregano, Italian seasoning blend 
  •  Spices  ( whole or ground )  chili powder , cinnamon,  cumin, ground ginger, dry mustard, paprika, crushed red pepper
  •  Sugar , white and brown
  • Honey

  Breads, grains and legumes

  • Breads, whole grain and enriched
  •  Whole grain crackers
  • Flour, all purpose enriched and whole  wheat flour
  • Rolled oats, regular and quick cooking ( but not instant )
  • Pasta in a variety of shapes and sizes- preferably whole wheat  
  • Brown rice,  regular and quick cooking,
  • Sugar, white and brown
  • Plain dry  bread crumbs
  • Whole grain cereals

 Keep in your freezer

  •  Whole grain bagels, pita bread
  • Boneless chicken breasts
  • Fish fillets
  • Frozen vegetables,- all varieties without added butters or sauces
  •  Frozen berries and fruits
  •  100% fruit juices, concentrate
  • Lean beef
  •  Ground turkey
  • Turkey sausage, breakfast links and/or  Italian for quick pasta dishes   
  • Pizza crust
  • Frozen basil or garlic
  •  Frozen low –fat yogurt or ice cream for quick dessert
  • Fresh ginger  ( freeze unused portions and take out  as needed)

 Keep in your refrigerator

  • Eggs
  • Low-fat cheddar cheese or feta cheese
  • Good quality parmesan or romano cheese
  • Citrus juice,  orange or grapefruit
  •  Low –fat cottage cheese
  • Dijon mustard
  • Fresh fruits in season
  • Lemons and limes  
  •  Parsley , fresh basil, scallions
  • Fresh garlic
  • Milk, low-fat
  • Salad dressings, light or low-fat
  • Salsa
  • Vegetables,-  carrots, celery, lettuce, green or red  pepper, tomatoes
  •  Low fat yogurt
  • Water packed tofu
  •  Turkey bacon
  • Unsalted butter
  • Trans fat free margarine

 These basic items will get you started on your way to healthy cooking.  To begin, check the sales on your frozen vegetables, canned goods and dry goods and stock up.   Check your discount stores for sales on the dried fruits, herbs, spices and oils.  Often at the discount store you can get the dried herbs and, spices for under a dollar.    Don’t’ forget to use coupons on items that are on sale. This is how you can stock up on the lower cost side.  So as you prepare your healthy kitchen continue to use the other tips of menu planning, and sticking to grocery list except to add one or two items from the stock list to build your base.

The beauty of having a healthy stocked kitchen is that today, I found a new recipe for beef and asparagus stir fry which looks tasty with a nice Asian flavor.   On my weekly menu I had a beef dish planned, but I was busy this morning and did not add the dish to the slow cooker.    We all have days when things do not go as planned.  Not to stress about it because the new recipe I found will be just as great.   I have all the ingredients.  I will use the beef already planned, just slice it thin. All the others ingredients or flavorings, I do not have to run out for, I have them in the dry pantry.  I have in the freezer asparagus (purchased on sale two weeks ago and then froze).   So when I get home I can relax, enjoy preparing a healthy meal in 40 minutes (that’s how long it takes brown rice to cook.) and enjoy tasting a new dish