Get creative with your lunch options!

Nutrition Notes: Lunchbox Makeover

by Jenna Olson, RD and Nutrition & Wellness Educator

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.

Have fun.
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 FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

The Food Bank receives mushrooms like these from local farmers thanks to our Farm to Family program!

Nutrition Notes: California-Grown Mushrooms

by Jenna Olson, RD and Nutrition & Wellness Educator

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.

Maitake Mushrooms:
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!


It's important to start your day with a well-balanced breakfast.

Nutrition Notes: The Benefits of Breakfast

by Jenna Olson, RD and Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Breakfast has long been noted as the most important meal of the day. After hours of sleep, breakfast literally means to break the fasting period from the prior night by kick starting our metabolism in the morning. This meal provides crucial fuel for our brain and body, and helps improve mental alertness and physical performance.

Breakfast gives you the chance to start each day with a healthy and nutritious meal that incorporates the five food groups. Creating a breakfast that incorporates protein and fiber can help keep you full for a longer period of time.

According to the Mayo Clinic, adults and children who report regularly eating a healthy breakfast are more likely to:

• Control and maintain a healthy weight
• Eat less fat and cholesterol
• Have better concentration and be more alert
• Miss fewer days of school and work
• Meet their daily nutrient requirements

Does it seem that time is never on your side in the morning? Finding a few extra minutes to make a quick nutritious breakfast can save you in the long run. By providing the body and brain with the morning recharge, you’ll be more efficient in almost everything you do throughout the day. If breakfast is a new concept to the typical morning routine, try a few quick and easy meal ideas such as fruit and yogurt parfaits, smoothies or oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts. Here are a few ideas to help brainstorm new additions to your average morning routine:

- 10 Easy Breakfast Recipes
- Healthy, Quick and Portable Breakfast Ideas



That produce looks delicious!

Nutrition Notes: National Farmers Market Week

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Did you know the USDA recommends that each person consume 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables each day? Trying to reach your daily fruit and vegetable requirement can seem like hard work and without a game plan, it can be! That’s where farmers markets can come in handy! It just so happens that this week is recognized as National Farmers Market week!

Visiting farmers markets can be a fun experience for the whole family. As a team, you can shop at different vendors’ booths to find delicious and fresh local produce for your fridge. San Diego farmers markets come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in both urban and rural areas. Currently, there are more than 50 farmers markets each and every week throughout San Diego County that contain local produce from your San Diego friends and neighbors. Try to reach the daily fruit and vegetable recommendation a few days this week by utilizing a few of the tips below on how to include more produce into your daily food menus.

1. If you buy more… you eat more. It is that simple. If you replace the bags of chips and crackers in your pantry with a fridge full of produce, it can make snack time choices much healthier.

2. Prep early, eat more often. If you prepare fruits and vegetables by cutting, peeling and placing them in easy to grab containers right after your trip to the grocery store, then they are an easy on-the-go snack option.

3. Change it up. Take a look at a few of your favorite recipes this week. Are there any ways to sneak in a few more servings of fruits or vegetables in the dish?

4. Drink your vegetables. Not a big fan of salads? Then try making your own smoothies! You can incorporate many of the greens you see lining the walls of the produce aisle and not even taste them when they are paired with a few fruits in the blender. The smoothie may not be the prettiest color, but it will taste great!

5. Snack savvy. When that mid-morning and early afternoon stomach rumbling hits, be prepared! Start a healthy snack drawer at your home or office. You can include small bags of trail mix or nuts or even different kinds of fruit.

Farmers markets stock a wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables and are known for the quality of the produce and for freshness and taste. It’s easy to find a farmers market near you. Visit this site to find your local neighborhood market!