Graphic provided by: EatRight.org

Nutrition Notes: National Nutrition Month

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

March marks the annual celebration of National Nutrition Month. Through the support of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month grew from National Nutrition Week back in the 1970s to, now, a month-long focus on healthy eating partnered with physical activity.

“Put Your Best Fork Forward” is the theme for National Nutrition Month 2017 which serves as a reminder that each one of us holds the tools to make healthier food choices. Making small changes during National Nutrition Month® and over time, helps improve health now and into the future. – EatRight.org

For the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, this is a very important celebration. We are not only San Diego’s largest hunger-relief organization, but we are also growing towards being recognized as a Nutrition Bank. With our nutrition policies in place, distribution of over 7 million pounds of fresh produce, and our nutrition education efforts all over the county, the Food Bank is passionate about putting our best fork forward and serving our community.

If you’re interested in participating in National Nutrition Month, would you consider hosting a healthy food drive? Or how about trying a new vegetable for dinner this week? This one looks yummy! For the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at 4 key messages of National Nutrition Month. Our goal is to inspire you to make informed food choices for you and your family!

Nutrition Notes: Cheery Cherries

by Divya Denduluri (MS Nutritional Biology, CLEC), Nutrition Education Volunteer

With some of the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, cherries make for a yummy, nutritious snack! They are also packed with vitamin C, potassium, and melatonin which aid the body’s sleep pattern. There are several varieties of cherries that range in color from pale yellow to deep red and some taste tart or sweet. They are in season from May to July every year but can be found in the frozen section of your grocery store almost year round. We are celebrating these bite-sized, heart-shaped beauties this February, perfectly complementing American Heart Month.

Cherries can be enjoyed fresh, frozen, canned or dried. Here is a recipe for some cherrilicious pancakes.

Recipe: Very Cherry Pancakes
Preparation time: 20 minutes | Number of servings: 3-4

Ingredients:

- 1 cup of whole wheat flour
- ¾ cup of milk
- ¾ cup of fresh cherries, pitted and chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- 1 tbsp of oil for pancake batter (Plus, 1 tbsp of oil for cooking the pancakes)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey to drizzle

Directions

1. Mix all ingredients together, except the maple syrup and 1 tbsp oil until combined.
2. On a heated skillet, spread 2 tbsp of the batter and cook on both sides until golden brown. Repeat the process for the rest of the batter.
3. Drizzle pancakes with maple syrup or honey. Enjoy!

CLICK HERE to explore more cherry-filled recipes.

References:

1. http://maraschinocherries.org/cherry-facts/
2. http://calcherry.com/recipes/
3. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/4/981.full.pdf+html
4. http://efnep.ucanr.edu/?story=509

Nutrition Notes: Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

by Divya Denduluri (MS Nutritional Biology, CLEC), Nutrition Education Volunteer

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, manganese and fiber. In fact, 1 medium sweet potato gives you over 300% of the vitamin A you need per day which is very good for our eyesight. They are also a good source of complex carbohydrates, while being low in sodium and calories. All this great nutrition makes sweet potatoes a yummy, healthy food!

There are several varieties of sweet potatoes, ranging from white and mild to bright red and very sweet, with textures varying between creamy and dry. The best part is that they are almost always in season, and we are celebrating them to add extra sweetness to Valentine’s Day this February.
 
Recipe: Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Preparation time: 40 minutes | Number of servings: 3-4

Ingredients:
 
- 1 medium-sized sweet potato (steamed, peeled and mashed)
- 4 whole grain tortillas
- ¾ to 1 cup of cheese (grated)
- Salt and pepper taste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of lime juice
- 1 teaspoon of Serrano chilies (finely chopped)
- Paprika powder to taste
 
Directions:
 
1. Mix all ingredients together, except the tortillas until combined. Divide the mixture into four equal parts.

2. On a heated skillet, toast a tortilla on both sides. Spread a fourth of the sweet potato mixture on one side and fold over to make a quesadilla. Repeat the process for the other tortillas.

3. Cut into triangles and serve with salsa and sour cream.

More tips on storing and cooking sweet potatoes can be found by clicking here.

References:
1. http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/usda-sweet-potato-nutritional-analysis/benefits-of-sweet-potato/

Did you know? Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. Source:  The Heart Foundation

Nutrition Notes: Healthy Habits for Happy Hearts

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

Heart Disease Fast Facts
(Sourced from heartfoundation.org)

1. Heart disease (which includes Heart Disease, Stroke and other Cardiovascular Diseases) is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 787,000 people alone in 2011.

2. Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

3. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually.

4. In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.

5. Direct and indirect costs of heart disease total more than $320.1 billion. That includes health expenditures and lost productivity.

Healthy Habits to Make Our Hearts Happy

The American Heart Association is on a mission to promote healthy habits that can have a lasting impact on your health. By making small adjustments to your everyday routine- you can do better for your body!

Here’s what the AHA recommends:

Eat Smart: Your body needs fuel just like a car needs gasoline to go. Our fuel comes in the form of food- those carrots, mushrooms, grains, nuts, blueberries give you energy to go. When we make healthy, wholesome food choices, we’re fueling our body with the right mix of nutrients to keep on the road for the long haul.

Add Color: Think about which foods add color to your plate. Deep orange sweet potatoes, rich green leafies, deep blue blueberries, radiant red bell peppers- be sure to sneak some color into your meals in the form of fruits and vegetables to ensure you consume all those yummy nutrients. Try buying produce in bulk and freezing any leftovers to save money.

Move More: Many people are not reaching the 150 minutes of recommended physical activity each week. Start slow and just try to move more for 5 minutes here and there. Been sitting for over an hour? Get up and take a loop around the house or office. Driving all over town running errands? Make that extra effort to park in the back of the parking lot before walking in the store doors. Instead of fretting over going to the gym or singing up for boot camps- just move more in your daily routine!

Be Well: In combination with healthy eating and moving more, think about your overall wellbeing. Are you sleeping enough each night? Need some stress relief? Take breaks throughout your day to relax and rest your mind. Take a few deep breaths, in and out slowly, and release your tensions. Taking care of your mind is taking care of your body!

For more tips, check out the American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good healthyforgood.heart.org.