apple on suitcase

Nutrition Notes: Stay Healthy and Save Money Traveling This Summer

by Jenna Richter, Dietetic Intern

It doesn’t matter who you are, even with the slightest mention of “airplane food,” a collective groan or general look of disgust is bound to emerge. I get it. It’s easy to grab a quick burger from a fast food joint while you’re shuffling between terminals or driving in the car, but let’s be honest, even if fast food was primarily healthy, having it every day while you’re on vacation gets old pretty quickly.

The good news is, with a little planning ahead, you don’t need to rely on what’s in the airport or off the side of the road for a bite to eat during your summer travels. What some people might be unaware of, is that in the United States (and in most other countries), you are allowed to bring your own food with you to the airport and onboard the plane (yes- something you can do on a plane. Cue the applause!)

Below you can find some TSA-approved snack ideas that can easily be packed and transported with you on the plane, the car or any other mode of transportation you so choose:

1. Homemade sandwiches wrapped in parchment paper, and stored in a quart-sized plastic bag (that part is specific to plane travel.) Remember that all food that you carry on a plane will need to go through the x-ray machine, so be sure not to use any foil.

2. Dips and sauces such as hummus, salsa and almond butter can come on the plane, but remember, they need to be in a 3.4 ounce container or smaller and placed into a quart-sized plastic bag. The travel-size packs that are available from some brands are perfect!

3. Fresh fruits and veggies, such as apples, bananas and avocados. Just wash them at home or in your hotel room before you put them in your bag. You can also bring a butter knife with you if you’re traveling by plane (believe it or not.) Keep in mind however that if you’re traveling internationally, fresh fruits and veggies may not be allowed through customs, so for these trips you may need to just pack enough to get you through your flight, otherwise you’ll be forced to throw away any extra food. If you’re traveling by car, these items should ideally be kept in a cooler in the backseat of your car as opposed to the trunk where they are less likely to be kept cool by the air conditioner.

4. Crunchy snacks such as crackers, popcorn, kale chips, etc.

5. Dried fruit and raw nuts- these make a great snack while you’re on the go. You can make your own mix: 1/2 cup each of raw almonds, coconut flakes, dried cherries or raisins, and raw walnuts. Airports and convenience shops usually have trail mix available for purchase, but they often contain inflammatory oils, or other additives.

6. Pre-made salads. Salad dressing can be packed separately as long as it’s in a 3.4 oz. or smaller container (again, for traveling by plane only.) However, a great tip is to simply pour your dressing in the bottom of the bowl or container first, and then layer your greens on top for mixing in later so you don’t need to bring a separate container for your dressing, and your salad stays minimally soggy. (Just don’t forget to bring a fork- and yes, this too is allowed to be carried on the plane with you!)

7. Empty thermos and empty water bottles – any size. These are great for filling up after you get through security in an airport, or when you’re on the road and make periodic stops for water. Bringing your own refillable water bottles will also save you money as opposed to buying bottled water. If you’re going to any countries where you fear for the safety of their tap water, there are special water bottles available with filters inside. Check out this site to see if the tap water in the country you’re visiting is considered safe or not. Tip: Bring your own tea bags in your bag with you, and enjoy something warm and soothing to drink during your busy travel days!

For additional information about what is allowed on board your plane, check out the TSA’s website and search for specific foods or other items. If you are traveling internationally, make sure you review any customs restrictions for the country you’re visiting- these may differ from TSA’s rules.

You may be thinking, okay great I’m allowed to bring all this food with me but how will I carry it all? There are actually plenty of carry-on-size, travel-friendly coolers that you can count as your second carry-on bag, or conveniently keep in your car! Tip: you can use frozen berries or other frozen foods to keep perishable food cold inside your cooler, and not waste space with excess ice; plus, if you bring some plain, low fat yogurt with you, you can top your yogurt with berries after they’ve defrosted a bit! The TSA does allow frozen food (including ice) as long as it’s completely frozen upon coming through security (again, going back to the “no more than 3.4 ounce liquid rule.”) Still wanting some healthy snack ideas to bring with you? For some specific food items to consider packing, check this list out, and this one too!

Remember! Maintaining a nutrient-rich diet is critical each day, but especially while traveling. Being in close contact with so many people may compromise your immune system, especially if you’re not receiving adequate immuno-boosting vitamins and minerals from your diet. Also, staying sedentary for long periods of time may upset your body’s usual digestive processes. It’s important to take walks whenever possible, drink plenty of water, and do your best to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to ensure an all-around, pleasant travelling experience- your tummies will thank you!

Tips and tricks adopted from Food Babe, and http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/lifestyle/travel/health-takes-flight.

Take your dining outside this summer.

Nutrition Notes: Pack a Picnic

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Summer is here and beach season is upon us! Cookouts and picnics are longtime summer traditions, generally a time for family and friends to socialize and have fun while enjoying food and sunshine. Since these gatherings most often occur outside, food safety is very important. Hot summer temperatures can easily cause food bacteria to multiply quickly and can quickly ruin summer afternoon plans. Remembering to prepare and store food safely this summer can keep your picnics safe and fun. Below are the four important food safety steps to follow this summer:

Clean: Bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including utensils, your hands and cutting boards. Make sure to always wash your hands for 20 seconds using warm and soapy water. Always use clean utensils to prevent the possibility of cross contamination and the spread of bacteria. Also, when you are preparing fresh fruits and vegetables, make sure to wash them even if you plan to peel them. It is important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside of the produce to the inside once you peel or cut them open.

Separate: Always keep raw poultry, eggs and meat separate from your fresh read-to-eat foods. This prevents the possibility for cross-contamination at any potential time of contact. When storing these items in the fridge they should always be stored in containers or plastic bags and placed on the bottom shelf to prevent the possibility of their juices dripping onto fresh produce items.

Cook: Cooking food to the proper temperature is very important. Bacteria grows the quickest in the “Danger Zone” between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit. Always make sure to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. You can learn more about BBQ food safety here: Barbecue and Food Safety. Also, it is important to know what temperatures are considered safe when cooking, please refer to this list: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures.

Chill: Once your picnic is over it is important to cool foods properly to prevent food borne illness. It is important to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours; however, in the summer months, it is best to get food into the fridge within an hour. Also, never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Since bacteria can multiply quickly at room temperature, this common practice is very risky. Instead of thawing foods on the counter you have a few food safe options:

1. Thaw in the Fridge: This is the safest way to thaw meat. Place the item on a plate or in a pan, and place it in the fridge to thaw.

2. Thaw in Cold Water: If you need to thaw something a bit quicker, place the frozen item in an airtight plastic bag and submerge it under COLD water. Make sure to change the water every 30 minutes so the water stays cold.

3. Thaw in the Microwave: Each microwave has individualized instructions for thawing so check your owner’s manual. If thawing by cold water or microwave make sure to cook the item immediately after thawing.

4. Cook without Thawing: If you don’t have enough time to thaw, you can cook your food from a frozen state but make sure to check the final temperature before eating since it does take longer to cook fully.

By following the four food safety steps listed above, you can ensure that you have a safe picnic and cookout this summer. Feel free to find additional information related to food safety as well as the ability to have a few food safety myths debunked by clicking here.

Protein really packs a punch when it comes to nutrition!

Nutrition Notes: Protein – Why is it Important?

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

We all need protein, but how much is enough? Most people (ages 9 and older) should eat 5 to 7 ounces of protein-rich foods each day. What does 5 to 7 ounces look like? Well to keep things simple here are some common portion size equivalents:

- 3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry is equivalent in size to a deck of cards or iPod
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or hummus is equal to 1 ping-pong ball (2 ounces)
- ½ cup cooked beans is equal to the size of 1 baseball (1 ounce)
- ¼ cup of nuts is equal to the size of 1 golf ball (1 ounce)

Protein comes in many forms whether it is from meat, poultry, and beans or dairy, so why is protein an important component of a healthy diet? Proteins are made up of amino acids and play many critical roles in the body. Protein is the building blocks of all of the body’s cells. They are important for the structure, function and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. So without enough protein in our daily diets, it could lead to detrimental effects on the entire body. Some examples of not obtaining enough protein include:

- Being tired or experiencing less energy
- When injured it can take much longer to recover
- You may get sick more often

We all need protein, and it is also recommended to vary our protein sources, which would include both animal (meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs) and plant (beans, peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds). Frozen proteins are also beneficial as well because they last longer and can generally be used for multiple meals (i.e. a whole frozen chicken can be eaten for a meal, leftovers stored and the bones can be used to create a soup stock). Looking for additional protein tips and ideas on how to switch up your protein routine? Check out 10 Tips for Choosing Protein.

Have a picky eater on your hands? Read the tips below !

Nutrition Notes: What to do when you have a picky eater at home

by Ana de Castro, Dietetic Intern

While having a picky child may be stressful, it is (in most cases) a normal part of development. Disliking a new fruit or vegetable the first time they try it is a very normal reaction. As long as their refusal doesn’t involve all foods, it’s generally not a problem.

In this case, persistence counts. In order to feel comfortable eating something, the child often has to become familiar with it. So make sure the food is visible by having it on the table and available to them. If many attempts have been made to introduce a food to the child and they continually reject it, consider taking it off the table and reintroducing it in about a month’s time.

Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters. Getting your child to try new foods can often feel like a chore, but you can make this challenge easier by using the following strategies:

1. Don’t become a short order cook. If your child is refusing to eat certain foods, you may be tempted to provide a separate meal. However, giving your child too many options for meals might only complicate things. If they know you’ll make them something else they already like, they won’t take the opportunity to try new foods.

2. Make mealtime a sit-down event. When kids are constantly eating on the go, they get used to fast-food items and other foods that can be easily taken on the road. These typically do not include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Plus, getting kids used to eating meals at the table gives them the opportunity to try new foods.

3. Plan your snacks. Allowing kids to graze all day long might cause them to not be hungry when it comes time for dinner and not be willing to try new foods. Separate snacks from meals and make snack time a planned, sit-down event. And there should be at least an hour or two between a snack and a meal to allow time for the child to become hungry again.

4. Don’t make a big issue of it. Besides raising your own stress level, making a big fuss over a picky eater can be pointless. If a child realizes that refusing food gets them a lot of attention, they might keep doing it, especially at a younger age.

5. Make it fun. Consider making it ‘Yellow Day,’ when you and the kids have to wear something yellow and also pick out a yellow fruit or vegetable to eat. Involving the kids in choosing the foods, and maybe even helping to cook them, can also spark their interest and is another way to build familiarity with a new food.

6. Hide the ingredients. You can easily get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables by hiding them in foods they already enjoy. While it’s a great way to get kids to fulfill their daily servings, it’s important to recognize that this should not be your only approach to encouraging healthy eating. Kids need to acquire a taste for fruits and vegetables alone, so that they don’t grow up avoiding them.

Nutrition is a reason to smile all month long!

Nutrition Notes: March is National Nutrition Month!

by Nicole Hartig, Dietetic Intern

National Nutrition Month has a long history beginning in 1980 when Congress decided to expand National Nutrition Week to encompass the entire month of March. The purpose of the month is to spread nutrition information and education to the community by promoting sound eating practices and physical activity habits.

National Nutrition Month is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), who works to bring awareness to this health and nutrition-focused campaign. AND is a great resource for healthy eating tips, ways to eat right on a budget and fun worksheets and games for kids to catch the healthy eating bug. You can learn more about National Nutrition Month as a whole by visiting www.nationalnutritionmonth.org. How can you celebrate National Nutrition Month? Check your local hospitals, food banks, community organizations and schools for special programs and educational classes taught by registered dietitians (RDs).

Can’t find any classes in your area? Try these simple ideas to jump start your healthy lifestyle:

- Explore new foods by cooking one new healthy dish for your family every week of March. Visit eatfresh.org for nutritious recipes.

- Visit a farmer’s market and select a fruit or vegetable that is new to you. Find your local farmers market by visiting the San Diego Farm Bureau’s website.

- Learn how to read a food label by visiting the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website, and practice your new skills on your next grocery shopping trip.

- Be active! Commit to taking a walk in your neighborhood after dinner each night.

- Reduce your chances of getting sick by practicing proper food safety guidelines. Learn about them here.

Need a little boost to start your new healthy habits? Consult with a local registered dietitian to learn easy-to-follow nutrition advice and reduce your risk of chronic disease. If you know a dietitian, make sure to give them a shout-out on March 11th, because it is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day! You can also learn more about dietitians at www.eatright.org/RD.

Healthy snacks... yes, there is such a thing!

Nutrition Notes: Snacking with a purpose

by Edgar Calderon, Nutrition Intern

All parents understand that it is important to provide healthy snacks to children, but did you know most kids get over a quarter of their daily calories from snacking? A 2010 study reported that sixty percent of children skip a meal, typically breakfast. Often the caloric deficiency is made up through snacking. These recent studies and surveys have made it more clear how much of an impact snacking choices have on a child’s development. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to get kids to make smart snacking choices when typically the decision process does not include the parents.

Below are a few tips that will help encourage kids to make smarter decisions when they visit the fridge and/or pantry.

Give kids what they love. Try to incorporate their favorite foods into their snack, even if this means cookies. A single crushed up cookie will go a long way in a healthy trail mix of nuts and dried fruit.

You can wrap everything. Try a savory hummus and shredded carrot wrap or if they are craving something sweet, get out their favorite nut butter and fruit. Your wrapping options are only confined to your creativity!

Make your own dips. Most store-bought dips can be unhealthy. Making your own can be easier than it sounds, and it gives you and your family the ability to customize to your specific tastes. Make an easy tasty dip for veggies using taco seasoning and low-fat plain yogurt.

Use simple recipes. Using simple recipes allows for (older) kids to be more involved in the food preparation process. Try new recipes with them or try to create a healthy spin on a family favorite. They will be proud of their recipes and be excited to share with friends.

Looking for a few fun new snack ideas? Check out a few of these resources for ideas:

Super Healthy Kid Snacks
The 20 Best Snacks for Kids
10 Snack Tips for Parents

Granola is a great snack, if you know how to do it the healthy way!

Nutrition Notes: How to become a DIY granola guru

Jenna Olson, RD and Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Granola is known as a breakfast favorite around the world. Some people view granola as a power-packed health food, while others think it is chalked full of unnecessary calories. Store-bought granola can be expensive, but the great news is you can make your own and it is usually less expensive!

Granola is a fun and super simple healthy option that can be prepared right at home! By making granola at home, the potential for mystery ingredients is removed, which makes it easier to forgo the possibly not-so healthy ingredient options. A basic granola recipe generally includes oats, sweetener, oil and some add-in options. Those options may include nuts, dried fruit, seeds or dried coconut shavings. Some recipes may even call for an extra protein punch from peanut butter or other nut butter such as almond butter. Since granola is packed with nutritionally dense ingredients, it is important to be conscious of portion sizes! The average serving size for granola is about 1/4 cup (about the size of one large egg) and ranges from 100-150 calories per serving depending on the ingredients chosen.

Granola recipe ideas are endless! Follow the steps below, and get creative in the kitchen with a recipe that suits your style and taste buds.

Main Ingredients

1. Grains: 3 cups
Most recipes include rolled oats but feel free to add in a couple tablespoons of quinoa for extra protein.

2. Nuts: 1-1 ½ cups
Choose a favorite nut or go for a mix some favorites include almonds, pistachios, walnuts or pecans.

3. Sweetener: 1/2 – 3/4 cup
A liquid sweetener helps bind the granola together by coating the mixture evenly. Try using maple syrup, honey, agave or brown rice syrup.

4. Oil: 1/4 – 1/2 cup
This is the crunch factor. The sweetener is in charge of binding whereas the oil keeps the granola from becoming one big sticky glob. Oils including olive oil, coconut oil, canola or grapeseed oil will do the trick.

5. Salt: Just a pinch
Salt always goes a long way so make sure to not over do it here!

Potential Add-In Ingredients

6. Seeds: 1-2 cups
These may include pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds

7. Dried coconut shavings or dried fruit: 1 cup

8. Spices: 1 teaspoon
Try adding sweet and savory spices to the recipe such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger.

Directions (How to mix and bake properly)

1. Turn oven on to 300˚F.

2. Place all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Do not add dried fruit or roasted nuts at this stage, if they are a part of the designed recipe.

3. Add oil and sweetener to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir all ingredients together.

4. Spray baking pan with non-stick spray and spread out granola mixture onto baking sheet.

5. Bake at 300 ˚F for 30-45 minutes; make sure to stir granola half way through after about 20 minutes in the oven.

6. Let granola cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Granola is a great addition to many staple snack and meal ideas. Check out a few of the links below for recipes and ideas on how to use it! Happy baking!

Granola: 14 Ways to Use It
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites
3 Ingredient No Bake Granola Bars
Grab & Go Granola Bars and Bites

Nutrition Notes: Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin

by Nicole Hartig, Dietetic Intern

Vitamin D is a powerhouse of a vitamin, because it plays an important role in bone strength, our immunity, and cell growth. Adequate levels of vitamin D have also been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. On the other side, not getting enough vitamin D can cause a loss of bone mass, which can lead to osteoporosis. Getting enough vitamin D through all stages of life is important so that our bones and cells can grow and stay strong.

If vitamin D is so important, where do we get it? The sun! Vitamin D is known as the “Sunshine Vitamin” because our skin absorbs sunlight and turns it into vitamin D. In these cloudy winter months it can be difficult to get the recommended amount, not to mention that too much exposure to sunlight is damaging to our skin. Luckily, there are quite a few food sources that are packed with vitamin D to help increase intake. Only a few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but it is added to many products. Try fish (such as salmon and tuna), mushrooms, eggs, vitamin D fortified milk, orange juice or yogurt, to get your recommended dose of vitamin D.

Click here to read more information on recommended intake and good sources of vitamin D.

Make sure to get outside, and catch some rays, too! Enjoying the outdoors doesn’t require a lot of money. Check out this list of 25 FREE things to do in San Diego for a few ideas!

Nutrition Notes: Freshen Up on Produce Storage Rules

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition and Wellness Educator

How often have you opened the fridge to find spoiled produce or a funky odor that leads to the discovery of food products that have been forgotten? According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American wastes 20% of the vegetables and 15% of the fruit purchased in and out of the home. Most of the time produce is discarded because it has gone bad before we are able to use it. In order to maximize the shelf-life of produce items, it is important that these items are stored properly.

Many fruits and vegetables should be stored only at room temperature because refrigerator temperatures can damage them or prevent them from ripening properly. For example, when tomatoes are stored in the fridge, they can lose their flavor and will not fully ripen. So, what should be stored where? Click here to view a chart that can answer all of your storage questions. This chart is a good option for printing and placing on your fridge as a daily reminder.

Freshen up your 2015 with water!

Nutrition Notes: Kick up the water intake a notch this year!

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

The new year is in full swing, and of course, with the new year, many people are on journeys to start new habits or kick old ones to the curb to make room for your best year, yet!

Many of us know that it is very important to drink plenty of water each and every day, but there always seems to be an excuse or two as to why many of us never reach the recommended daily amount. This year, try to start off on the right foot and make staying hydrated a priority. Although, recommended water consumption differs for each individual, the average healthy adult should aim to drink about 10-13 cups of water each day.

Not sure how to get that many cups of water into your daily routine? Try adding citrus or fresh fruit to create your own spa water. Citrus water gives plain water some extra flavor, and also provides a few additional health benefits. Water flavored with citrus provides extra vitamin C, aids in digestion, freshens your breath and can help cleanse your systems by helping to flush out excess toxins in your body. Enjoy a few new spa water recipes to try out in 2015, maybe you will find a new favorite. Better yet, do you have any favorite ways to spice up your daily water intake? Or if you have other healthy New Year’s resolutions, please share them with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

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