Yummy foods, Tennis shoes

By Callie Brust, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

I’m sure this is not news to anyone, but some of the tastiest holiday foods tend to be the highest in calories.

I know. I’m sad about that too. If you’re like me, you may have tried to make your dishes a little healthier. But as soon as you alter Nana’s recipe, your family kicks you out of the house for messing with tradition. Also… no
matter how hard I try, I can’t escape the call for a second helping of my sister’s corn pudding. What to do, what to do!

It’s ok to indulge a little bit during the holiday season but you want to make sure you’re not over indulging. If you decide to double up on your dessert plate, maybe try to do a little more exercise than normal.

You’re eating extra energy (calories) so use up that extra energy through physical activity. I’m not talking about running a marathon after holiday gatherings. Start small! Here are some examples of easy activities to burn about 100 calories (a.k.a. 1 roll with butter):

• Walking stairs for 11 minutes
• Bike for 23 minutes of casual cycling
• Play basketball, shooting hoops, for 20 minutes
• Dance around the living room for 20 minutes
• Shop for 38 minutes
• Walk the dog for 26 minutes
• Carry an infant for 24 minutes
Click here for more ideas! 

It’s all about balance. Calories in calories out. After yummy foods, grab your tennis shoes! Get a game of football going in the front yard, make up a family dance to a recent song, or take a stroll around the block.

What are ways you stay healthy during the holidays?

Holiday meals can be delicious and healthy at the same time!

Nutrition Notes: Healthy Holiday Cooking

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

As hard as it is to believe, the holidays are creeping right back up on us! Not only is Thanksgiving right around the corner, but so are the temptations of delicious and savory holiday comfort foods. The festivities involved in the holiday season are usually centered around eating a ton of delicious food—the latter of which can ultimately pose a big problem for everyone looking to stay fit and maintain a healthy weight.

That is why I have put together a list of healthy tips that will help you combat the excess calories, temptations, and weight gain that typically come along with the holiday season!

6 Simple Tips to Practice Healthy Holiday Cooking

1. Skim the Fat – Once your delicious homemade gravy has been made, refrigerate it to harden the fat. This will make it easy to skim the fat right off the top and save you a whopping 55 grams of fat. That’s almost 500 calories per cup of gravy!

2. Enjoy Skinless Turkey – Enjoy delicious turkey breast by omitting the skin of the turkey, which can save up to 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz. serving – that translates into almost 100 calories per serving!

3. Use Skim Milk in Mashed Potatoes – Using skim milk instead of whole milk and butter will save dramatically on the amount of fat present which in turn will save you calories! The addition of garlic powder, low-sodium seasoning, and Parmesan cheese will help provide a tastier bowl of mashed potatoes while leaving you guilt-free!

4. Homemade Holiday Nog – Because the holidays are just not the same without some delicious nog! Make your own holiday egg nog using 1.5 cups of skim or soy milk, four bananas, 1.5 cups plain nonfat yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon rum extract, and ground nutmeg. Blend all ingredients together except the nutmeg. Puree until smooth, and top with nutmeg.

5. Low-Calorie Vegetable Casserole – Bake fresh or frozen green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. Top with low-sodium and reduced fat cream of mushroom soup and sprinkle with slivered almonds instead of fried onion rings.

6. Make a Crustless Pie – Use crushed gram crackers rather than a whole pie crust. Additionally, substitute 2 egg whites for a whole egg in your pie recipe and replace the heavy cream for low-fat milk in order to cut on fat, carbs, and total calories.

Berries aren't the only foods chock-full of antioxidants!

Nutrition Notes: Gotta Love Those Antioxidants!

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

We’ve all heard the hype associated with antioxidants, but have you ever wondered what an antioxidant really is, and just why it is so significant? Antioxidants work to protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are typically formed when your body breaks down foods, as well as with increased exposure to tobacco smoke.

Studies have found that consuming a diet rich in antioxidants from natural food sources can prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer. So just how can you ensure that you are consuming enough of this powerful and extremely vital substance? Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will provide you with adequate amounts of Vitamins A, C, E and Selenium, which are all natural antioxidants.

For more information on how to add antioxidant-rich foods to your daily diet check out the recommendations below!

• Consume a wide variety of both fruits & vegetables.
• Add legumes (beans, nuts, peas, lentils) to salads, pastas, and other dishes.
• Replace snacks such as chips and cookies for nuts.
• Incorporate various herbs & spices in meals (basil, cilantro, oregano, etc).
• Fill your plate with color, to ensure variety of plant based foods.
• Avoid tobacco products.

Click here to learn more about antioxidants.

The group of students and staff stopped to take a photo celebrating their hours of community service at the San Diego Food Bank.

Volunteer Spotlight: St. Charles Borromeo Academy

by Cristina Sierra, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

For the past twenty years, students at the St. Charles Borromeo Academy, grades kindergarten through eighth grade, have come to our distribution center each month to volunteer their time, which makes them a very special group to us! Twenty years? Amazing!

The Academy requires their studentsto learn about the importance of community service. Through their requirement, the children learn amazing skills such as team-building, the importance of service, team-buddy systems and mentorships.

We recently had the privilege of hosting the 6th grade class of St. Charles Borromeo Academy. The children were delighted to give their time to the Food Bank and had lots of fun working together as a class. Mrs. Goncalves-Paine, the teacher of the 6th grade class, shared her wonderful story about the children and the program.

“We like to inspire and motivate the children about community service.  I came to this school as a child and even volunteered my time with the Food Bank, so we have an outstanding legacy,” Goncalves-Paine said.

A legacy they absolutely have. The Academy shows their appreciation for their students by having a volunteer appreciation event for their students at their monthly assemblies. One student was so excited when I was talking pictures of his group, he asked if his class would get pizza for volunteering that day.

Twenty years of community service is amazing and we are so grateful for the parents, teachers, and students who are involved each month. The children were so inspiring, and I am grateful that I was able to meet all the children.

Cold season is upon us! Learn the immune boosting power of healthy eating below

Nutrition Notes: Immune Boosting Power of Healthy Eating

by Callie Brust (MPH, RDN, CHES), Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Cue the Clorox wipes, the elbow sneezes, and runny noses… cold and flu season is almost here. While washing your hands is the first line of defense, did you know your body has its own built in defense method? Your immune system!

Good, healthy, nutritious foods can help boost your immune system and may offer protection from infection. Consider adding nutrients like Protein, Zinc, prebiotics, probiotics, and essential vitamins to the toolbox of wellness your body needs.

1. Protein-rich foods help build your defense mechanisms like your skin and muscles. Fill ¼ of your plate with lean proteins like poultry, nuts, seeds, beans, and eggs at each meal.

2. Zinc is the healing mineral. Foods rich in zinc include lean meats, seafoods, poultry, and fortified cereals. Because zinc is more readily available in animal proteins, vegetarian eaters might need up to 50% more zinc than non-vegetarians. Find out more by clicking here.

3. Prebiotics and probiotics are intestinal health power tools. Prebiotics are components of food that provide fuel for probiotics, or good gut bacteria. Together, prebiotics and probiotics help balance your intestines and help with your overall heath. Prebiotics are found in onions, garlic, whole wheat foods, and bananas. Probiotics are typically found in fermented foods like kefir products, aged cheese, and sauerkraut.

4. Vitamins A, C, and E help maintain our tissues, antibodies, and antioxidants. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors will give you your daily dose of Vitamins A and C. For Vitamin E, aim to add seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils to your meals.

Take that flu! Prepare your body’s immune system by eating healthy, nutritious meals all year round!

Thankful Thursday: Rick Engineering Company

by Michael Minjares, Development Grant Writer

For Sharon Liu with Rick Engineering Company, the joy of volunteering began as a high school student in Southern California. She dedicated much of her time then to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Orange County. While in college she didn’t find much time to give back, but as soon as she landed a professional position in San Diego she looked for opportunities to get involved in the local community. Luckily for us, she found the San Diego Food Bank.

At Rick Engineering Company, Sharon has organized monthly volunteer visits to the Food Bank’s Miramar warehouse to sort food and pack boxes. This year she even brought a team to the recent San Diego Blues Festival. The group worked at the ticket sales booth and, according to the Food Bank’s Robin Skale, “totally rocked the house!”

But where Sharon and her colleagues from Rick Engineering truly shine is in their internal and highly competitive food drives. This year, the local company raised 2,766 pounds of food for the Food Bank during its food drive in September by holding an internal competition between four teams within the company. In total, the group provided the equivalent of 2,305 meals for low-income San Diegans!

Sharon says the food drive idea started a couple years ago and has turned into a real competition for the company’s teams. In addition to providing critically-needed food, participating in the food drive competition has opened the eyes of some her colleagues to the needs of the community.
“Through the food drives and volunteer work, I think we have gained more exposure about what the San Diego Food Bank does and how we can help alleviate the hunger problem in our region,” said Sharon, an Associate Water Resources Designer. “It’s been a good thing. I also appreciate how the Food Bank makes it so easy to host a food drive and to sign up as a volunteer.”

The Food Bank sends a sincere thank you on this “Thankful Thursday” to Sharon and all the kind and generous folks at Rick Engineering Company for their on-going efforts to provide food to people faced with food insecurity in our community. See you and your crew in the warehouse soon!

Doesn't this stuffed acorn squash look scrumptious?

Nutrition Notes: Savory & Delicious Stuffed Acorn Squash

by Amanda Thomas, Nutrition Intern

With fall season in full swing, I thought it would be a good idea to share my favorite healthy and absolutely delicious fall recipe with you all! These sweet and savory squash bowls are nutritiously filled with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Magnesium, and Potassium. And if all that isn’t enough to convince you to indulge in this healthy vegetable, acorn squash is also a good source of dietary fiber – yay!

Recipe: Italian Sweet and Savory Squash Bowls

Duration: 45-50 minutes

Italian Sweet and Savory Squash Bowls

2 small to medium acorn squash (the halves should be the size of a small bowl)
16 ounces 98% lean ground turkey
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms, diced
1/2 teaspoon Italian herb mix dried oregano, thyme, basil, parsley (I prefer fresh if I have it)
1/4 cup reconstituted sun dried tomatoes


Fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 cup of feta cheese, crumbled

Wash, halve and scrape the inside of the squash. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place squash in a shallow baking pan, cut side down. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until tender. Turn cut side up, brush with olive oil, then bake for 20 more minutes.

In a large pan, fry crumbled turkey sausage, olive oil, onions, garlic, and dry herbs on medium heat. When turkey is almost thoroughly cooked, add sun-dried tomatoes. Continue cooking turkey until it is fully cooked. Add 1/4 cup water if it seems dry. Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed. Remove from heat.

Place squash halves on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Mound the filling into squash halves. Coat the filled squash with fresh breadcrumbs and sprinkle with a thick layer of feta cheese. Broil just until cheese is lightly browned. Serve and enjoy! Yum!

Thank you Anthem Blue Cross for not only sharing your positive attitudes with us, but for donating your time to help us end hunger in San Diego County!

Volunteer Spotlight: Anthem Blue Cross

by Cristina Sierra, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator

This month we had the pleasure of hosting a corporate event for Anthem Blue Cross. This was their first-ever volunteering event with the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. Twenty-five very enthusiastic participants came to our distribution center with uplifting attitudes and all smiles ready to make an impact towards the Food Bank’s fight against hunger. With their shirts donned, Anthem collectively provided a generous $500 grant for the Food Bank. Wow! Amazing! Thank you so much.

David Naimark, Medical Director for the West Region of Anthem, is a regular volunteer with the Food Bank. He thought it would be a wonderful idea to host a corporate event for Anthem to give back to its community through volunteer service. He was able to provide 25 volunteers, who each contributed 50 hours towards our organization. We appreciate him so much for bringing the man power to help us out! Each month, the Food Bank serves 370,000 people in San Diego County who face the threat of hunger every day, and we simply could not do this without the volunteers who contribute their time and effort to our organization.

Anthem served in two of our distribution projects: sorting through fresh produce, and packing 30 pound food boxes for our senior clients. A third of the food we provide to the community is fresh produce. Anthem successfully sorted and repacked 4,000 pounds of fresh onions for distribution. Through our Senior Food Program, we are able to serve 8,400 seniors each month who face hunger. Again, Anthem successfully created 540, 30-pound boxes which will be distributed at our 50 distribution sites thought San Diego County. That equals to more than 16,000 pounds of food that we are able to provide to those in our community who really need it. Incredible!

From all of us from the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, we want to give a huge THANK YOU to Anthem for their motivation to serve, their amazing uplifting attitudes, their generous donation and most importantly their time. Thank you for being part of our vision to have a hunger-free San Diego!

Did you know that the human tongue has more than 10,000 taste buds!?

Nutrition Notes: The Science of Taste

by Callie Brust (MPH, RDN, CHES), Nutrition & Wellness Educator

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I excitedly look forward to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ national conference every year. The Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo was held in Nashville, TN a few weeks ago and boy was it a nutrition lover’s dream! I sampled new foods, networked with other nutrition professionals, and heard the latest research in our field. One of my favorite sessions discussed the science of taste and how taste can influence what we eat. Want to know if taste buds change your dinner plate?

The 5 regions of taste on your tongue are Sweet, Salty, Sour, Umami (think savory) and Bitter. The researchers chose to focus on the Bitter taste. Did you ever wonder why certain veggies are bitter? Like kale, Brussels sprouts, or turnip greens? During the growing process, some vegetables produce a bitter taste to keep bugs away! Built in bug deterrent! And based on your personal genetic code, you may or may not taste the full bitterness of those veggies.

During the presentation, the researcher handed out bitter paper to place on our tongues. The paper represented the specific bitterness of bitter veggies. It was the most disgusting thing I had ever tasted. My friend next to me… she didn’t taste a thing. So I most definitely have the DNA code to taste this specific bitterness. Awesome. But this doesn’t change what I eat. I love Brussels sprouts, I love greens!

So what’s the point? The research shows that our taste buds may influence our food choices. So if you taste the really bitter taste, you may not put those veggies on your plate. BUT there is also research to say that our taste buds are not destiny. This means you can learn to overcome the bitter taste. That’s great news! I can continue to love my bitter veggies and all the nutrients they contain! So keep your options open when choosing your foods. Try new foods in new ways to keep your taste buds guessing. Through different recipes and cooking methods we can learn to enjoy all vegetables.

Try this recipe for Garlic Lemon and Parmesan Roasted Brussel Sprouts.


- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, rinsed and dried, ends trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise

- 2 ­ to 3 cloves garlic, minced

- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving

- 1/2 tsp (scant) fine sea salt, or to taste

- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add Brussels sprouts and garlic to a large mixing bowl.

2. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice then toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss.

3. Spread onto a cookie sheet in an even layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven, tossing once halfway through baking, until golden brown on edges, about 25 -30 minutes.

5. Serve warm spritzed with more lemon juice to taste and topped with Parmesan cheese.

No matter the age, all volunteers are welcome to help pick fresh produce with ProduceGood.

Thankful Thursday: ProduceGood’s CropSwap Program

by Michael Minjares, Development Grant Writer

According to journalist and blogger Jonathan Bloom, each day Americans waste enough food to fill the Rose Bowl in Pasadena from the field to the stadium brim. In hard numbers, that’s equivalent to 160 billion pounds of food that could have been used to feed people in need. Hearing statistics like these prompted Nita Kurmins Gilson, Jerilyn White and Alexandra White to found ProduceGood – a local non-profit organization that organizes food recovery efforts to glean fruits and vegetables primarily from San Diego residents’ gardens and overgrown trees.

Recently, ProduceGood partnered with the San Diego Food Bank on a CropSwap activity in Rancho San Diego. Teams of volunteers, including the Food Bank’s Vice President of Development Liz Sheahan, worked together to pick oranges, fruit that will go to San Diegans facing food insecurity and hungry for nutritious, fresh food. Since partnering with the Food Bank in August 2015, ProduceGood has facilitated the donation of 4,331 pounds of citrus fruit from residential homeowners, and an additional 872 pounds of organic tomatoes from an organic grower for a total of 5,203 pounds. For Nita, it’s the start of something significant.

“It’s absolutely a dream come true,” she explained. “It is so inspiring to see that the time has come for food recovery efforts. People are finally getting that. At this moment, we’re affecting change and it’s all coming together. It feels so hopeful.”

The flagship program of ProduceGood, CropSwapSanDiego, is a gleaning group that harvests excess fruit in backyard orchards in San Diego (with permission of the owners) and delivers it to local food banks, like the San Diego Food Bank. Pitching in at this local CropSwap event was 15-year-old San Carlos resident Trevor and his family. The local high school student expressed the reward he felt volunteering his time to make a difference.

“It feels nice to do something that benefits other people,” he said. “The people here are really awesome.”

On this “Thankful Thursday,” the Food Bank thanks Trevor, Nita and all the volunteers with ProduceGood for their tremendous work in rolling up their sleeves and personally collecting food for our neighbors in need. Your work lessens the amount of food wasted in our region while putting food on the table for low-income seniors, hard-working families, dedicated military personnel and their families, veterans and the homeless.

If you are interested in volunteering with ProduceGood, contact the organization by emailing producegood.jeri@gmail.com or visit their website at www.producegood.org.

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