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!
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:
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!
With childhood obesity on the rise, it is important to make sure kids are eating right and getting plenty of exercise.
Parents and caregivers can play a big role in a child’s nutrition and overall health by teaching kids about the benefits of fueling their bodies with healthy foods and encouraging them to spend less time sitting and more time moving. Plus, it is much easier to inspire kids to make good choices when you practice what you preach, too! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has some steps families can take to encourage healthy eating and active lifestyles:
1. Shop Smart. To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.
2. Cook Healthy. Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of meals. They will learn about food and may even be enticed to try new foods they helped prepare.
3. Eat Right. Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day’s experiences with one another. Research indicates that those families who eat together have a stronger bond, and children have higher self-confidence and perform better in school.
4. Healthy Habits. You can help kids form great, healthy habits by setting a good example. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose lower-sodium options, and male at least half the grains your family eats whole grains. For beverages, choose water over sugary drinks, and opt for fat-free or low-fat milk.
5. Get Moving. Aside from being a great way to spend time together, regular physical activity is vital to strengthen muscle and bones, promote a healthy body weight, support learning, develop social skills and build self-esteem. Kids are encouraged to be active for at least 60 minutes per day.
Getting kids to eat right can sometimes be a challenge, especially if they are picky eaters. But experts say that a conversation can help.
“Talk to your children. Learn the food they like. Teach them about the foods they need for their growing bodies. Find ways together to make sure they have the knowledge and ability to eat healthy and tasty foods at every meal,” explains Angela Lemond, registered dietician and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.
It may help to consult a registered dietician in your area to ensure your family is getting the nutrients it needs with a meal plan tailored to your lifestyle and busy schedule.
To learn more about ‘Kids Eat Right’ month, please visit www.KidsEatRight.org.
This August, reevaluate your family’s exercise and eating habits, and take steps to make positive, healthful changes.
*This blog post was adapted from the www.kidseatright.org website. All rights reserved to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
With barbecues, beach days and festivals, summer can really put a kink in a person’s healthy eating habits and children are no exception. A family’s normal school year routine usually goes on vacation once the summer months are in session giving children a lot more free time. This extra free time can sometimes result in confusion between feelings of boredom and feelings of hunger and when that happens, kids may feel more compelled to reach for a bag of chips than going outside to play with their friends. However, there are ways for parents to help by making healthy eating a top priority for the whole family.
Kid-friendly snacks: Consider creating a designated shelf or drawer in your fridge for healthy snacks and ingredients that children can get on their own. Children enjoy creating their own things and healthy snacks can be one of the many summer time fun activities for them to take part in. There are many prepackaged snack options, but nutritious and easy to prepare options can be just as convenient to have on hand to meet everyone’s craving. Try a few of the ideas here!
Make a routine and stick with it: It is important to try and keep children on some sort of schedule when school’s out. Starting each day with a good and healthy breakfast is important, as it provides everyone with the fuel and energy they need in order to take on the day ahead.
Keep kids involved: Like tip number one, it is important to have several activity options available to your children during the summer months. According to research from the University of Michigan, children who watch more TV paired with inactivity develop a higher risk for becoming overweight. To combat inactivity, encourage kids to go outside and play. Also, be sure to set aside time to do things as a family whether you go for a hike together or play catch with a football. Any activity that is fun and gets you moving is better than none! Need some more ideas? Click here!
The summer months offer so many fun activities and events that allow you and your family to have fun and stay active. Do you have any family time favorite activities or snacks? Share a picture or idea with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!
Hot summer nights call for a quick and easy meal to keep you cool, hydrated and satiated. With many different fruits and vegetables in season during the summer months, it is the perfect time to experiment with the flavors of your local farmers market to create fun new salads! This summer try something new! Instead of settling for the same old greens topped with dressing, try a few of the following ideas to inspire a new and improved salad!
1. Make it a Meal: Salads are often paired with an entrée as a side dish, but there are many ways to beef up a salad to make it more filling and serve as the main dish. Try adding a protein source like meat, eggs or beans along with a healthy fat such as avocado slices or a handful of nuts. Always try to include as many colors as you can with your salad. The different colors represent different nutrients, so the more colors the better!
2. Downsize on the Dressing: When deciding on a dressing, the decision can either make or break your healthy salad. Even choices such as olive oil can quickly add up too since each tablespoon has about 120 calories. Try making your own dressing like the ones here. Another option is to keep it simple by using a few of these options to flavor your salads: a scoop of hummus, salsa, flavored vinegars, garlic, or lemon or orange juice. Watching your waistline? Put dressing on the side that way you can dip your fork in the dressing with each bite of salad, so you will get a taste of dressing while sparing some extra calories.
3. Change it Up: People can get bored with the same old salad routine. Jazz it up a bit by incorporating a different vegetable or new salad greens. You can also try a grain-based salad with extra fruit and vegetables. Consider grilling a few different fruits and vegetables and tossing them into your salads as well.
Salad creation can be described as an ever-changing culinary art form, so don’t let your usual salad routine get you in a rut! These nutrient-packed powerhouses can leave you satisfied for hours and can be a fun family activity during the creation process. Try a few of the recipes below and see what new recipes you can create in the kitchen!
With sunny skies and beach season in full swing, there is no better time than now to try out some new smoothie recipes! Smoothies can be a great and healthy kick-start to your day, especially after a long holiday weekend. Try incorporating a few of the tips below and you will be blending like a pro in no time!
1. Proper Procedure: Always add the ice last. This will prevent over blending, which can lead to a watery smoothie rather than smooth and frothy. The best order of procedure is: liquid, frozen fruit, add-ins (protein or fat), ice and add fresh fruit last.
2. Freeze Your Own: Next time you have a few overripe bananas or a bag of spinach that is about to spoil, save them for your next smoothie by throwing them in a freezer bag. Remember to peel and chop the banana before freezing for ease later on.
3. Make it Easy: By setting aside about 30 minutes once a week, you can prepare freezer ready smoothie packs for the remainder of the week. This technique provides an extra health punch to your week and it can also save you money because you will no longer have to spend $4 to $5 on your smoothie fix each day. Find some inspiration here Smoothie 101: A month of Smoothies in an Hour
4. Add Some Protein: Protein promotes satiety and can help prevent those mid-morning munchies at work. Try adding some nut butter or incorporate your favorite Greek Yogurt to help keep you full longer.
5. Sneak in those Veggies: Have you been trying to increase your vegetable consumption? Well, you are in luck because smoothies are a perfect place to hide some extra greens! If you are a beginner, try starting with a few handfuls of spinach. Spinach will provide the least amount of change to a smoothie’s overall flavor. Once you are feeling confident, try experimenting by incorporating kale, beets, cucumber, carrots, Swiss chard and more!
Need a little more inspiration or prefer to follow directions? Here are a couple basic recipes to help you out!
Hotdogs, barbecues and burgers? Oh my! According to the History Channel’s website, Americans consume 150 million hotdogs on the Fourth of July and 80% of people attend a barbecue, picnic or cookout. Although this patriotic holiday is all about friends, family and food, there is a way to still enjoy it without sacrificing your waistline. This year, try a few tips below to make your backyard BBQ both nutritious and delicious!
Use Whole Wheat Buns
Last week’s post discussed the importance of swapping out white bread for whole grains. Making the switch adds more fiber to your diet, which can help keep you full longer.
Load Up on Veggies
Try to fill half of your plate with veggies to avoid the overconsumption of calorie-laden options. Loading up on vegetables also fills you up with fiber, which can be helpful when determining if seconds or thirds are necessary. Here are two grill-friendly recipes featuring vegetables to try:
Plan ahead and pace yourself. Try to have a nutritious snack before arriving at the BBQ. If you do arrive hungry, temptation can settle in and oversized portions can look enticing. To help stop the impulse to eat everything in its tracks, try drinking a glass of water before filling your plate. Also, bring a fruit dessert to share! Fruit is naturally sweet and they also provide great nutritional benefits! Here are three recipes to try:
Have a Fit Fourth
Incorporate physical activity into your BBQ this year. Try to organize a relay race, water balloon toss or even incorporate a group walk, swim or bike ride before the fireworks.
Making a few minor changes to the usual BBQ menu this year can help make a big impact on your health and your guests will thank you! Have a fun, safe and healthy holiday weekend!