Holiday waistlines have a habit of growing in size over the cooler months. The season of weight gain generally starts with Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving feasts and continues through the December holidays to New Year’s. According to the National Institute of Health, the average American gains about one to two pounds of weight during the holidays. Although this may not seem like a lot, this weight gain builds up after a couple of years. So this year, try to incorporate a few of these tips to help you enjoy some of your holiday favorites without sabotaging your waistline.
1. Make sure to stay hydrated. Before heading out to a holiday party, try drinking a full 8-ounce glass of water accompanied by a piece of fresh fruit or a vegetable snack. This way you don’t arrive thirsty or hungry and head straight for the appetizer table.
2. Switch up your favorites. If you can’t live without gravy on your mashed potatoes or a slice of pumpkin cheesecake, try substituting ingredients during the cooking process to decrease the calorie content.
3. Fill your plate only once. Although holiday gatherings often consist of food and treats, try to only visit the buffet line once. When you are filling up your plate, aim to fill up on fruits and vegetables.
4. Keep moving. Incorporate some sort of exercise into your holiday routines. Consider taking a walk with family or friends to observe neighborhood holiday decorations.
How are you balancing your holiday food fun? Hopefully, a few of these holiday tips can help you feel armed and ready for all of the festivities that come before New Year’s. Sending best wishes to you and yours during the holiday season.
Gobble, gobble! Thanksgiving is just a few days away! With delicious dishes at the center of many Thanksgiving traditions, food safety is important during this food-filled holiday. Below is a food safety guide related to thawing, cooking and stuffing a turkey, as well as leftovers to help you and your family enjoy a safe and tasty holiday.
Thawing a Turkey: It is not safe to thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature. A turkey can be safely defrosted on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, submerged in cold water or in a microwave. Allow approximately 24 hours per 4-5 lbs. of turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. Allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey to thaw in cold water. Place turkey in a leak-proof plastic bag, submerge in cold water and change water every 30 minutes until thawed. Follow the manufacturer’s instruction when defrosting a turkey in the microwave.
Cooking a Turkey: Set the oven to 325°F and cook turkey to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F checking with a food thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving. Approximate cooking times are as follows:
- 8 – 12 lbs.
2 ¾ to 3 hrs. (3 to 3 ½ hrs. if stuffed)
- 12 – 14 lbs.
3 to 3 ¾ hrs. (3 ½ to 4 hrs. if stuffed)
- 14 – 18 lbs.
3 ¾ to 4 ¼ hrs. (4 to 4 ¼ hrs. if stuffed)
- 18 – 20 lbs.
4 ¼ to 4 ½ hrs. (4 ¼ to 4 ¾ hrs. if stuffed)
- 20 – 24 lbs.
4 ½ to 5 hrs. (4 ¾ to 5 ¼ hrs. if stuffed)
Stuffing a Turkey: For optimal food safety, do not cook the stuffing directly inside the turkey. Instead, cook stuffing separately in a casserole dish. If you do choose to stuff your poultry, be sure to frequently check the temperature with a food thermometer to ensure the temperature stays at 165°F.
Leftovers: Refrigerate cooked leftovers within 2 hours and consume within 3-4 days. Always reheat cooked leftovers to 165°F, checking with a food thermometer, and reheat sauces and gravies to a rolling boil.
This food safety information was derived from http://food.unl.edu/safety/thanksgiving-food-prep. Click on the link for more detailed instructions related to Thanksgiving food preparation and safety.
Looking for a fun Thanksgiving Day activity? Join us for the annual San Diego Run for the Hungry 5k & 10k, and support a good cause while burning a few calories before indulging in your favorite holiday dishes. There are still a few days left to register! Click on the link for more information: http://sdrunforthehungry.org/.
It’s time to put an old myth to bed. Eating fat will not make you fat! Consuming an excess amount of any type of calories can lead to weight gain and related health concerns.
Fat is an essential nutrient required for normal body function and is an important part of a healthy diet. Generally, fat should make up 20 to 35% of your total daily calories. However, moderation is key! Fat provides nine calories per gram and small amounts add up quickly. When selecting foods, it is wise to choose foods with healthy fats, limit foods high in saturated fat, and avoid foods with trans fat. All fats are not created equal!
Incorporating healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated, omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, into your diet can decrease your risk of heart disease and promote heart health, whereas saturated and trans fats can increase your risk of heart disease and negatively affect your health. Foods high in healthy fats include plant-based oils, nuts, seeds and fish. Below are five tips to improve your fat intake and selection.
1. Use liquid plant-based oils for cooking and baking. Plant-based oils, such as olive or canola oil are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
2. Eliminate trans fat from your diet. Read food labels and choose foods that are trans fat free. Limit fried foods and baked goods that are often high in trans fat.
3. Switch from butter to soft margarine. Butter is high in saturated fat. Choose a product with zero grams of trans fat and no partially-hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list.
4. Eat good sources of omega-3 fatty acid. Include fatty fish (such as salmon or albacore tuna), walnuts, canola oil and flax seeds in your diet regularly.
5. Limit red meat. Beef, pork, and lamb are high in saturated fat, eat these meats in moderation. Opt for leaner protein sources more often such as chicken, fish, beans, and nuts.
What is your recommended daily fat intake? Click on the following link, Health Calculator, for further guidance on your recommended daily fat intake that will match your diet and lifestyle.
Cool crisp mornings, early dark nights… it seems that fall has crept up on us this year! Fall offers so many varieties of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and it also marks the beginning of a long holiday season. Often times, we start eating more during this time, as well. It is important to keep our health in check during the cooler months and remember that fall foods offer great benefits to a balanced diet! Fall foods are packed with great nutrients such as fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals that help keep our immune systems strong. Here are a few tips to incorporate some typical fall favorites (soups, stews, breads, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, apples and greens) that are sure to keep the season tasty and healthy!
Fall back with a plan: With the clocks set back, it is important to remember that it will soon be getting dark earlier. This often means that there are less outdoor activity options in the evenings. Be prepared this year. Consider joining a gym, walking at a mall or well-lit area or you can even consider rising early to get some activity in before starting your day!
Soup’s on: Use this time to experiment in the kitchen. Soups are great meals that can be filled with hearty vegetables, and they are easy to throw in the crockpot so meals are ready for the week.
Snack attack savers: Football and new fall TV shows are in full swing which is often paired with snacks. Avoid overeating by portioning out snacks and have fruits and vegetables prepared and easily accessible for healthy snack options during the big game.
Make a plan to stay healthy this fall and winter season. Here are a few Quick & Easy Fall Recipes to inspire healthy eating during these cool months.
Trick-or-treat! With pumpkins, costumes and candy galore, we all know Halloween is right around the corner. Halloween is a fun-filled family holiday loaded with pillow cases full of candy! It is fine to enjoy some sweet treats on Halloween, but often times it is easy to overdo it! This year, before your ghouls and goblins hit the streets, try to remember these tips to avoid sugar highs followed by those upset tummies.
Eat a healthy snack before trick-or-treating. This tip seems simple enough, but it is often forgotten. By providing a healthy meal such as a peanut butter sandwich, fruit or a cheese stick, it can reduce over snacking on sweet treats.
Think outside the box. When your doorbell rings what will you be passing out this year? It doesn’t have to be candy. Try something new such as: cereal bars, snack packs of fruit, nuts or trail mix, gold fish, raisins, popcorn, etc.
Go ‘mini.’ Candy bar calories add up quickly so opt for the bite size candy bars.
Post trick-or-treating candy inventory. After hitting the neighborhood and wondering how to manage all of the candy at home, consider letting the kids choose a couple of candy pieces each day and try to pair it with a healthy snack such as a fruit or vegetable.
Get creative. If you are having a Halloween party, have the kids help in the kitchen. There are plenty of healthy Halloween snack ideas. Check out a few examples here: Healthy Halloween Treats & Halloween Treats Kids Will Love.
As everyone starts to stock up on hand sanitizer and tissues in preparation for flu season, it is important to remember that healthy eating during cold and flu season is essential to avoid getting sick. It is always important to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins and minerals by eating a balanced diet following MyPlate guidelines, but the next few months call for extra nutrient-packed defense systems! When the body is healthy inside and out, it has an easier time fighting off infection. In order to prepare the best protection, it is important to remember that staying healthy doesn’t end at the dinner table. In order to boost your overall health, remember the following tips:
Get plenty of rest. Sleep is important for all ages and the proper amount can directly influence how you feel as well as daily performance at work or school. The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, while school-aged children get at least 10 hours of sleep.
Eat a well-balanced diet. Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into meal and snack time provides immune boosting nutrients that help shield the body from infection. Get some snack-spiration here.
Exercise regularly. If exercise hasn’t found a home in your daily routine, try to make room for it gradually. It is best to aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. It is important to never get discouraged if you get off track with your exercise routine. It is never too late to restart your journey to a healthy and happy you!
Decrease stress. Work, traffic, family, house work… it all adds up and without an outlet, the body runs on overdrive and the stress can be an additional avenue for a sickness to form. Try to find 5 to 10 minutes each day upon waking and/or before bed to meditate or take self-reflection time to de-stress. If you have additional time, try incorporating some yoga or balance poses.
Cut back on unhealthy habits. It isn’t time for New Year’s resolutions just yet, but it is the perfect time to cut back on bad habits. Try to make one simple healthy change over the next 30 days. Some examples: read for 30 minutes every day, try a new fitness class, have a fruit and vegetable with every meal. It takes about 20 to 30 days for a habit to form, so you will be well on your way to a healthier you just in time for the holidays!
Over the next 30 days, challenge yourself to make one, maybe two simple changes that will aid in a healthier & happier you. Here is a short video for some inspiration: Try Something New for 30 Days. Share your 30 day small changes with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and stay healthy this flu season!
Ready… set… hike! Fall is almost here, which means football season is back! The return of America’s most popular sport marks the beginning of tailgating season, which tends to include calorie-laden drinks, chips, fried foods and don’t forget the burgers and hot dogs! Watching football without food would be incomplete, but is there a way to keep it healthy along the sidelines? Why, of course! Just because it’s football season, doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthily while cheering on your favorite NFL team.
Grill Without Guilt
Barbecuing doesn’t have to put a damper on fitness and diet goals. There are a lot of ways to stay healthy by lightening up traditional tailgate foods.
- Make it lean when it comes to meat options. Try to choose ground meat that is 93% lean or more, if possible.
- Bulk up your burger or sandwich with extra vegetables like avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes or onions!
- Looking to save some calories for dessert? Try having your sandwich or burger wrapped in crunchy lettuce instead of using a bun. You can also skip the cheese
and save about 100 calories.
Chips, dips and desserts can be hard to tackle when it comes to tailgating in a healthy way, because those treats can often lead to overeating. This year, fuel up before you hit the fields with veggies. Vegetables can help keep you feeling fuller longer and can replace chips for dipping into bean-based dips such as hummus. Need some recipe inspiration? Check out these top 20 healthy tailgating recipes.
Exercise Break at Halftime
Football games tend to include a lot of eating and sitting. Encourage guests to take a halftime walk or stretch outside to get some fresh air and get the blood pumping again. Also, never forget the importance of hydration throughout the day! Oftentimes, the body can confuse hunger with thirst, which can be a sign of dehydration.
Could you maintain a food budget of $34.31 for a week? That’s about $4.90 per day. For more than 285,000 low-income San Diego County residents, $34.31 is their weekly allotment for all of their food and beverage needs. This week marks the 8th annual CalFresh Challenge running today through Sunday, Sept. 21. The CalFresh Challenge provides participants an idea of what it is like for millions of Americans that work paycheck to paycheck to provide for themselves and their families.
The challenge started in 2007 when four members of Congress decided to live on an average food stamp budget for one week to raise awareness and understanding of what challenges many people face on a daily basis while receiving CalFresh benefits.
It isn’t too late to participate in the challenge this week. Here are the rules:
1. Budget: Each person has a total budget of $34.31 to be spent on food and beverages for the week (that’s about $4.90 per day).
2. What’s included in the budget: All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.
3. Food at home: During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).
4. Social situations with food: Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including receptions or social events.
5. Share your experience with us: Document your experience throughout the week using a blog or daily journal to track how you approached the Challenge and share your stories and recipes with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!
Eating healthy can be tough when you are on a tight budget, below are a couple of resources for low cost healthy recipes that work on a CalFresh budget:
- What’s Cooking USDA Mixing Bowl Recipes: This website provides CalFresh friendly recipes that include the total cost and cost per serving.
- Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day: This is a free PDF version of a new recipe book that provides healthy meal ideas for a CalFresh budget.
It isn’t too late to participate in the challenge this week. Consider doing the challenge with your family, friends, coworkers or your fellow community members that are participating and make it official by pledging your participating here. We are excited that students from San Diego State University are participating in the challenge!
As summer winds down, it is almost time to reset those alarm clocks and pack this year’s school supplies for the upcoming school year! The first few weeks of school are a fun time for kids to catch up on summer stories with classmates and get back into their learning routine. Make sure the whole family has the perfect fuel in their lunchbox to keep them going through the day. It is easy to get in a rut when you’re packing the same lunch day after day. This year, change it up! Try incorporating a few of these tips to make sure this year’s lunches won’t be traded at the lunch table.
Find a good reusable lunchbox.
There are so many different styles of lunchboxes now, so you are sure to find one that fits your style. Whether it be the bento box, collapsible lunchbox or the classic lunch cooler, find one that works for you, and make sure to stock up on a few quality reusable storage containers that fit inside your lunchbox.
Make the time.
Once you get home from the grocery store, dedicate some time to do all of the food prep work for the week. This includes all of your slicing, peeling or cooking and then separating it into individualized serving containers, so they are ready to go for your lunch. You can even save by purchasing items in bulk and then placing individual serving sizes in their own containers at home.
Try something “out of the box” by switching out the classic PB & J sandwich for a wrap or pita. Try a couple of these quick and healthy lunch ideas.
Include a snack.
Once that afternoon hunger strike hits, be prepared! Bring along a few snacks that can be stored in the fridge for the week at work, so you always have a couple go-to options. Try a couple of these easy and healthy snack ideas.
All of these tips can be incorporated into the whole family’s routine. It takes some time to turn healthy changes into habits, but by having the whole family involved in the process, it can be a fun way to have a few extra hands help out in the kitchen. Do you have any creative lunch box makeover ideas? Share a picture or idea with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!
Maitake, Beech, Button, Portobello and Shitake are all types of mushrooms that are often referred to in the food community as antioxidant superstars. Mushrooms are a great addition to any dish that enhance delicious flavor while adding many different health benefits. Mushrooms are high in fiber, low in calories and are packed with various vitamins. The B vitamins found in many common mushrooms may help relieve stress and aid in energy metabolism, whereas the Vitamin D keeps bones, hair, skin, and nails strong. With so many health benefits to offer, take advantage of it by adding mushrooms to one of your favorite dishes or if you stick to the Button or Portobello mushrooms most of the time, try a new kind! Here at the San Diego Food Bank, we often have two different California-grown mushrooms known as Brown and White Beech mushrooms (pictured above) along with Maitake mushrooms. These mushrooms may look a little different, but they still pack the same nutritious punch as their fungi relatives!
Preparation and Storage Tips!
Brown & White Beech Mushrooms:
Cut off and discard the base of the mushroom cluster and enjoy in small clusters or hand-broken individual stems.
Easily separate mushrooms by hand and enjoy.
All types of edible mushrooms:
Put your mushrooms in a paper bag and place that bag on a shelf in the refrigerator. Be sure to store them away from foods with a strong odor, because the mushrooms will absorb that scent. Also, keep the mushrooms out of the vegetable crisper drawer. Don’t plan to use the mushrooms within the next couple of days? You can save them for another week by storing them in the freezer.
What You Can Make Using Mushrooms!
- Mushroom quesadilla - Roasted vegetables
- Taco toppings - Add mushrooms to fajitas, enchiladas or burritos
- Salad toppings – Omelets
- Miso soup - Make your own pizzas
Another option. Try a quick and easy mushroom sauté to add mushrooms to any favorite meal! Do you have a favorite recipe that includes mushrooms as an ingredient? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!