Put a little spice in National Herb Week by using chili peppers!

Nutrition Notes: National Herb Week

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

The first week of May is National Herb Week, and the chili pepper is the herb of the year for 2016. Chili peppers are good sources of vitamin C, most of the B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and iron, and can range from sweet (like bell peppers) to spicy (like ghost peppers) in taste. They come in a rainbow of colors, shapes and sizes.

Stuffed peppers are a perfectly flavorful way to celebrate National Herb Week this year. To make stuffed peppers, a variety of peppers like bell peppers and poblano peppers may be used. And herbs like mint, oregano, basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary and fennel may be used fresh or dried to add zest.

Here are some tips to keep herbs fresh and flavorful for the longest possible time:

- Store fresh herbs unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

- Herbs whose leaves wilt or brown easily may be stored in a glass of water with the stems in water and a plastic bag loosely covering the leaves.

- Wash hands in soapy water and fresh herbs thoroughly in cold water before using them. This helps minimize bacterial contamination.

- Heat and light can destroy the flavor in dried herbs. Store dried herbs in airtight containers away from heat and light, in pantry shelves.

Here is the recipe of stuffed minty bell peppers.

Recipe: Stuffed Minty Bell Peppers

Preparation time: 30 minutes


- 2 bell peppers, cored and halved
- ½ cup mushrooms, chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¼ cup mint, finely chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped
- ½ cup cooked rice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice


1. Preheat oven at 400°F.
2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes.
3. Add mint, cilantro, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
4. Cook rice according to directions and blend with the sautéed mixture.
5. Take the pan off heat and stuff the rice mixture into the peppers.
6. Bake in oven for 20 minutes until peppers are soft and browned on the edges.
7. Serve warm as is or with a dollop of Greek yogurt.


Thankful Thursday: DPR Construction

by Michael Minjares, Development Grant Writer

“DPR Construction – Integral and Indispensable to San Diego Food Bank’s Success in Assisting Low-Income Community Members”

The vision of DPR Construction is to be “integral and indispensable” to the communities the San Diego builder serves. This company-wide vision manifests itself at the local level through a series of volunteer activities and community projects organized by individuals with a passion for getting involved and making a difference. Recently, the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and the low-income, food insecure community members we serve have been the beneficiaries of DPR Construction’s team member’s skill and passion for enriching the San Diego community.

Beginning with last September’s  25 Days 25 Year company celebration, continuing with the 12 Days of Giving effort in December and including last month’s volunteer showing at the Food Bank’s Miramar warehouse, the team from DPR Construction has regularly found ways to support the work of the Food Bank in addressing hunger issues. Led by Sarah Williams, the building company’s service is always marked by enthusiasm, selflessness and dedication to the project.

“With the Food Bank we can have a direct impact on the community,” said Williams in explaining why DPR Construction has chosen to get involved in this way. “It puts our people in the community with an established organization that has a great track record. It’s the type of impact DPR Construction wants to have. We know what we are doing is helping other people. And, we have a great time getting the job done.”

Teams of DPR Construction volunteers have sorted food products, stocked boxes and assisted with other production tasks during their time at the Food Bank. The local company, one of San Diego’s top-ranked builders, has also hosted a virtual food drive to garner financial support for the Food Bank’s work. In addition, Williams worked with Food Bank staff to write and submit a grant application to the DPR Foundation. That effort resulted in a grant award of $10,000 being presented to the Food Bank to provide support for the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program, which provides weekend food to chronically-hungry elementary school children.

“For me personally, I was really affected by the volunteer orientation video we were shown and the number of children who go hungry in our community,” Williams shared. “My primary passion and area of interest lies with helping youth. I was very excited the grant proposal was selected for funding. It’s nice to know how strong the Food Bank is and how many individuals and other organizations it supports.”

According to Williams, DPR Construction’s ongoing engagement with the Food Bank will continue throughout 2016 with several future opportunities already scheduled.

“We have a lot of good-hearted people and it’s as easy as pointing them in the right direction,” Williams said. “People who have gone and volunteered at the Food Bank have had fun doing it. It’s great when you know what you are doing is helping other people.”

The Food Bank sends a heartfelt “Thankful Thursday” thank you to the wonderful team from DPR Construction for all of their support – volunteer and financial. No doubt, you are an integral and indispensable part of our efforts to address hunger and food insecurity in our local community.

If you or your group would like to set up a time to come in and volunteer at the Food Bank’s Miramar warehouse, please check out the “Volunteer” page on our website here and complete the “Group Registration” form.  For assistance, contact Volunteer Engagement Coordinator Cristina Sierra at 858-863-5121.

Nutrition Notes: Amazing Asparagus

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

Spring season is here, and so is asparagus! Available from March through June each year, asparagus is rich in iron, potassium, vitamin A, folic acid, thiamin, vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber. Asparagus spears can be white, green or purple in color, and are available in standard, large, extra-large and jumbo sizes – the thicker spears being juicier.

Asparagus is used to make a variety of soups, salads, noodles and stir-fry and can be eaten simply steamed with a dash of salt and pepper. Did you know that asparagus contains the phytochemical rutin which helps strengthen blood vessels and can help fight cancers?

Here’s a recipe for a stir-fry with asparagus and tofu. It is delicious as is, or served with brown rice, quinoa or noodles.

Recipe: Asparagus andTofu Stir-fry

Preparation time: 
10 minutes plus 2 hours for marinating the tofu

Number of servings: 4


  • 2 cups tofu, cubed
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3-4 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp coconut milk
  • ½ tsp Sriracha sauce for a spicy twist
  • Salt and lemon juice to taste



  1. Mix together the soy sauce and salt, add the tofu and marinate for 1-2 hours.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan.
  3. Add the garlic and asparagus and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Add tofu, peanut butter and coconut milk.
  5. Stir for 3-4 more minutes. Enjoy!

1. http://www.calasparagus.com/ConsumerInformation/AsparagusTips.html
2. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/make-a-fresh-start-with-spring-foods
3.  http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/rutin.php

Nutrition Notes: Pack a Punch into Your Sandwich

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

Sandwiches are amazingly versatile and can be easy to put together, less messy, healthy and satisfyingly scrumptious. They can also be made to accommodate most eating choices including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free and nut-free.

Peanut butter jelly sandwiches, bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches and grilled cheese sandwiches are popular sandwiches in America. Sandwiches can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Most of the ingredients to make a tasty and nutrient-packed sandwich are usually available in our kitchens. So go ahead, get creative and invent your new favorite sandwich!

Here are some basic ingredients to get started!

1. Start with 2 slices of bread. Whole wheat, rye, multi-grain and gluten-free bread options are easily available in grocery stores.

2. Choose veggies or fruits like lettuce, spinach, arugula, tomatoes, avocados, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, sautéed mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini and artichokes, sprouts, strawberries, kiwi, bananas, apples, pears, raisins and grapes.

3. Pick protein sources from a variety of lean meats, seafood, beans, tofu, low-fat cheese and cream cheese, and nut butters.

4. Add flavor to the sandwich using a dash of pepper, honey, low-fat mayo, salsa, guacamole or your favorite dip or salad dressing.

5. You can choose to grill or bake the assembled sandwich, especially the savory ones to add extra zing to the sandwiches.

Need some inspiration? Here are some resources for delicious sandwich recipes!

102 Super Sandwiches

Healthy Sandwich Recipes & Tips

50 Vegetarian Sandwich Recipes

Nutrition Notes: Where to Find Nutrition Advice

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

Nutrition messages change on the daily. What advice do I follow? How do I know what to believe? What’s the difference between a registered dietitian and nutritionist?

National Nutrition Month is coming to an end, and I wanted to share one last message: A registered dietitian nutritionist can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

The titles of registered dietitian and nutritionist do not mean the same thing:

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (often referred to as a Dietitian): A health professional who has been specifically trained in nutrition and meets national standards of practice. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists complete 1200 supervised practice hours and have to pass a national credentialing exam. On top of that, they are required to maintain continuing hours of education. Dietitians are held accountable for their conduct so the information you get from a Dietitian is reliable, professional advice.

Nutritionist: The term nutritionist can be given to anyone. Most nutritionists have no formal nutrition education and a few have qualifications in areas like food science or human nutrition. While most are well-meaning, be cautious if choosing to take advice from a nutritionist as they may not be fully informed.

I realize it’s difficult to sort through all the conflicting nutrition messages on the TV, internet, and in magazines. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If a new diet is cutting out 80% of healthful foods, it may not be a healthy diet. If you’re reading a nutrition article, check to see if the author is a Dietitian. The main thing to remember: Keep it simple. Don’t over-complicate food. Stick to real, fresh, healthful foods. Veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy.

If you have questions about nutrition check out reliable websites like eatright.org and foodandnutrition.org or ask your Registered Dietitian Nutritionist! Check with your insurance provider, because your visit with the Dietitian might be covered.

You can still savor the flavor while eating healthy!

Nutrition Notes: Enjoy the Flavor of Healthful Eating

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

Healthy eating is one of the most powerful tools to reduce the onset of disease. And what’s more – eating healthy can be delicious and enjoyable by accommodating personal taste preferences, cultural food traditions and budget restrictions!

Small changes like adding new vegetables to traditional dishes, and cooking meals at home adds healthfulness along with deliciousness to the food we eat.

Being a native of southern India, I enjoy home-cooked vegetarian meals using a lot of Indian spice mixes with my family. Traditional meals include rice served with stews and sautés made from lentils, beans, peas and vegetables. On weekends, I make the more elaborate southern Indian breakfasts like crepes and steamed cakes made from a batter of fermented rice and lentils, and dips made with coconut, lentils and vegetables.

I try to incorporate whole grains, local and seasonal vegetables and fruits into our meals to get the most nourishment (as seasonal and local produce are at their peak freshness and nutrient levels). Involving my kids in the process, like buying vegetables together at the Farmers’ Market, and washing, prepping and setting the table for mealtimes, helps them learn about the food they eat and gives them a sense of accomplishment. This in turn teaches healthy eating patterns which may continue in adulthood.

I also enjoy experimenting with cuisines from different parts of the world which opens doors to a wider variety of delicious and nourishing foods. Many grocery stores sell herbs, spices and spice mixes used in different cuisines at pocket-friendly prices. Hope you take time to enjoy food traditions and find creative, healthful and nutritious ways to add flavor to food, starting this month!



This year's Empty Bowl Project will be held on Friday, March 25, 2016!

Empty Bowls Bring Filled Plates to the Tables of Struggling San Diegans

by Brady Stout, Founder of the Empty Bowl Project

Nine years ago, my mother sent me an article from her hometown newspaper in Davis, Calif.  It was highlighting a charity event that several local schools were involved with.  It was called “The Empty Bowl Project,” wherein students created bowls and hosted a luncheon to sell them, with all the proceeds being donated to local food shelters. I was immediately inspired and brought the article to school and shared with my ceramics classes.

My students were equally enthusiastic about taking up the cause, and so we embarked on our own Empty Bowl Project here at San Marcos High School. It’s been an amazing journey ever since. Students have learned to use their ceramic skills for the greater good and the true meaning of giving. And the infectious ripple-effect of altruism has grown steadily every year.  We have had record-breaking marks every year since we started, raising over $20,000 for local food banks.

Every year it gets larger and more people jump on board to support the cause. In fact, it has grown so large that to meet bowl demands; I had to start a secondary support event called “Midnight Madness Bowl-ing Marathon.”  For this, a few weeks before our Empty Bowl event, I select a small group of dedicated students to make bowls all night until sunup. For our continued efforts, we have been nationally recognized by the California State Senate as a “We Fight Hunger” school, and last year were featured in an international Empty Bowls exhibition at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.  It’s one of the few events that bring together students, parents, staff, District Office personnel, and School Board Members all for a great cause. It’s become a marquee event here on our campus. We look forward to supporting The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank while continuing our quest to fill others’ empty bowls well into the future.

Savor the flavor! March is National Nutrition Month!

Nutrition Notes: March is National Nutrition Month!

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

Happy National Nutrition Month everyone! During the month of March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focuses on ways to promote healthy, nutritious food choices. National Nutrition Month serves as a great reminder to enjoy delicious, healthy meals and developing good eating habits.

The theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” which encourages everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors, and social experiences food can add to our lives.EatRight.org

Here at the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, we are committed to providing nutritious food and combating nutrition-related diseases among those we serve. We even distribute over 7 million pounds of fresh produce each year! That’s why we love celebrating National Nutrition Month!

How can you participate? Here are some simple ways to get involved:

1. Organize a food drive to support the San Diego Food Bank.

2. As a family, commit to trying a new fruit or vegetable each week of National Nutrition Month.

3. Plan to eat more meals together as a family during National Nutrition Month.

4. Take a field trip to a local farmers market or garden.

For the next 4 weeks, we’ll be posting helpful blogs and tips to encourage everyone to participate in National Nutrition Month. Stay tuned!

Canned food is more than meets the eye.

Nutrition Notes: What’s in a Can?

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

How are canned foods made? What is the secret behind preventing canned food from getting spoiled?

According to the USDA, canning food is a method of preserving food by heat processing and then sealing foods in an airtight container. This process destroys microorganisms and inactivates enzymes. As the heated canned food cools, a vacuum seal is formed, which prevents entry of new bacteria and keeps the food from spoiling. Salt, sugar, vinegar or oil is also used to help preserve foods for longer periods. Canned foods can have a shelf-life of 1 to 5 years. Did you know that most foods can be safely canned at home, too?

Canned foods can be as nutrient packed as their fresh counterparts. Research has shown that canning produce at peak freshness, and the lack of exposure to oxygen during storage period, helps protect nutrients in canned foods. Levels of some nutrients may be higher in canned food as compared to fresh produce. For example, vitamin C and folate levels were found to be higher in canned peaches compared to fresh peaches in a study conducted by the Oregon State University. On an average, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables processed immediately after harvesting and at their peak nutritional quality may be nutritionally similar to fresh produce. It is important, however, to keep in mind some important guidelines on choosing the healthiest canned food options mentioned in last week’s Nutrition Notes blog post.

Food Safety Tip: Canned food should be used immediately. Any leftovers should be refrigerated, and foods in metal cans should be refrigerated in clean glass or plastic containers to preserve optimum freshness and nutritional quality, and prevent bacterial growth and tin leaching into the food in the can.

Recipe Idea: For a flavorful savory dip, mix canned pumpkin puree with Greek yogurt, coarsely crushed roasted peanuts, chives, paprika and salt. Enjoy with your favorite veggies, crackers or just as is!

Plumber Tom knows the value of giving back to the San Diego community!

Local Entrepreneur Talks About His Support of the Food Bank and Being a Successful Businessman

Local entrepreneur, Billy Canu, has been supporting the Food Bank for many years through his local businesses. Canu has helped the Food Bank with SEO support through his company, BrightHaus, since 2009 – helping the Food Bank to significantly increase our online donations and help the Food Bank appear on search engines for clients seeking food assistance.

Canu and his team have been volunteering at the Food Bank for several years, multiple times a year. His staff of 20 plus employees visit the Food Bank, and they help inspect, sort and package food drive donations. Over the years, Canu’s team has helped the Food Bank sort and distribute thousands of pounds of food.

Canu has expanded his ranges of businesses to include a new business that he launched last month called Plumber Tom of San Diego.

Asked about what makes a successful start-up business, Canu provides his advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs, and it’s pretty impressive. ‘I do what a lot of other people can’t. I make you busy,’ said Canu.

Speaking about his salon business, Fox & Jane, Canu said, “I’m constantly working on branding, constantly working on image and I’m making data decisions every 5 minutes. Nothing rests that much. Of course without our stylists and my business partner it would be nothing.”

“It takes money to make money,” explains Canu. “You can’t compete in crazy industries unless you have cash upfront. And whether you have the cash or not, as the business owner you should be involved every step of the way.”

Canu gives 5 tips for those interested in embarking on a new venture.

1. It takes money to make money.

“The above is an obvious one, your business will fail without cash to start it. But a lot of people are in the predicament where they have an idea, but no cash to make it even out of the gate. Depending on the industry you’re wanting to work in, you’ll need at least $10,000 – $20,000 to feasibly get it off the ground and start advertising. Find something you can do and save the money. If that means shoveling snow, then shovel snow.”

2. Find a partner.

“My main superpower is coming up with an idea and finding someone to execute it with me. I’m not a plumber, I have no idea how to go into a house and fix a toilet, but I know that it’s a killer industry, and if I find the right people to work with me, I can make it as busy as the company that’s been around for a decade. I’ll find the right partner, offer them 50% of the company to do the manual work, while I do everything else. And don’t be cheap with your partner. Just because it’s your idea doesn’t mean you should keep 80% of a company.”

3. Cut the Ego

“You’re not a ‘visionary’, and until you make it, you’re not an entrepreneur either. As above, so below – and you’re only as good as your last sale. So cut out any ego. Don’t argue with your partner over trivialities. Most businesses fail because they have an ideology of how things should be done, which is often wrong. This goes for the brand image too. I do my research. Take a look at most plumbing sites. What do you see? Sites that look like they were built in the 1990s. Plumber Tom is different, I used a basic WordPress site to build it and I cut to the chase.”

“One guy said to me that he wouldn’t dream of taking the sales calls. He’d hire someone to do it! I bill over $10 million each year through all of my businesses, but until the recipe is perfected, I’m the chef, the baker, the buyer of the ingredients, everything. I talk to the customers and take the calls.”

4. Utilize the latest Tech to help you

“I use tech to help me also. House Call Pro is a system that is like Uber. I can’t do it all alone, when we book a job for one of our plumbers, the customer’s details are entered into it, and I don’t have to worry about a thing. All of the scheduling is done. Stuff like this is just one small item that takes care of the little things.”

5. Reinvest your profit

“When you make money in the beginning, you’ll need to take some to live, but make a deal to invest back into advertising. All of your cash needs to go into advertising. If it’s you and a partner, then take a 3rd each. 30% toward advertising, 30% toward you, and 30% toward your partner. If it’s just you, then invest the majority of your budget back into ads and take what you need to live.”

The Food Bank thanks Canu and the volunteers from his businesses for supporting our mission to end hunger in San Diego County.

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