Summer salads are not only refreshing, but they are also nutritious!

Nutrition Notes: Savvy Summer Salads

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

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!

Mason Jar Salads                                 Quinoa Veggie Salad

Curried Waldorf Salad                         Summer Salad Ideas with Fruit

Do you have a favorite salad recipe that you have been making this summer? Share a picture of your recipe or colorful salad with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!


Don't these smoothies just make your mouth water?

Nutrition Notes: Summer Smoothie Season

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

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!

Summer Breeze Smoothie    Banana-Blueberry Smoothie

Do you have a smoothie recipe you have been loving this summer? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Patriotism in the form of nutritious fruit and cheese.

Nutrition Notes: Make it a Healthy and Happy Fourth of July

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

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:

- Grilled Zucchini & Squash Stacks
- Grilled Vegetables in Easy Foil Packets

Portion Distortion

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:

- Watermelon Cake
- Easy Frozen Fruit Desserts
- Red, White & Blue Fruit and Cheese Platter

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!


Which bread is the healthier choice? Read on to learn the answer.

Nutrition Notes: The whole truth on whole grains

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

When walking down the bread aisle at a grocery store, the variety of choices can be extremely overwhelming. Each bread type sports different nutrient claims, and descriptions often include the terms “multi-grain,” “whole wheat,” “white wheat,” or “100% wheat.” Whole grain foods are important sources of many different nutrients and are also a great source of fiber.

Here are some tips to help ease the carbohydrate confusion  and help make choosing whole grains easier:

The “Whole” Picture
When searching for whole grain products, look for the word “whole” at the beginning of the ingredient list. Foods that read “multi-grain,” “100% wheat,” or are brown in color may not always be a true whole grain product.

Find the Fiber
If the produce provides at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, it is a good source of fiber. If it contains 5 or more grams of fiber, it is an excellent source of fiber. Fiber aids in digestion and keeps you feeling full for longer periods of time.

Gluten and Whole-Grains
For those individuals who cannot consumer gluten, there are many whole grain gluten-free products available on store shelves. Some of these include buckwheat, popcorn, brown rice and quinoa.

Make the Switch Nice and Easy
If whole grain products are new to a consumer’s diet, then making the switch from white flour to whole wheat flour can be tough. To ease the flavor change, try mixing products such as preparing half brown rice and half white rice. You can do the same with pasta dishes, as well.

Below are some tasty recipes to help incorporate more whole grains into your diet:

Whole Wheat Pasta with Lemon            Trail Mix

Popcorn with Toppings                           Quinoa Crusted Chicken Fingers

Do you have any favorite whole grain recipes? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter!

No matter how you slice them, mangos remain delicious!

Nutrition Notes: Mango Tango

by Jenna Olson RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Did you know that mangos are considered the most popular fruit in the world? As the summer kicks off with barbeques and beach days, June marks National Mango Month! There is no better time than a hot summer’s day to enjoy the scrumptious, tropical flavor of a mango! The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Sometimes it can be tough to get in all of those fruits and veggies each day, so varying your routine with different produce can keep it from becoming boring! The mango is a sweet treat that won’t leave you feeling guilty. Each mango contains over 20 different vitamins and minerals and is low in calories clocking in at only 100 calories per cup!

Mangos can seem intimidating, if you are new to the fruit. It takes some practice to master how to select a mango from the store and how to cut a mango. First off it is important to never judge a mango by its color…red does not always mean ripe! The best way to know if a mango is ripe is to squeeze it gently. A ripe mango will ‘give’ slightly and a firm mango will ripen at room temperature over a few days. If you would like to speed up the ripening process, you can place a mango in a paper bag at room temperature and if you would like to slow down the ripening, you can move the mango to your fridge for a few days. When you are ready to enjoy the mango, try cutting it like the above picture for ease. You can learn how by watching the video here: How to Cut a Mango.

There are a variety of different mangos throughout the world and most of the mangos in the U.S. are one of six varieties. Mangos can be enjoyed in so many different ways. They can be eaten by themselves, added to numerous recipes, or even used in a marinade due to their tenderizing properties! Try out one of the mango recipes below this summer or share your favorite recipe with us on Facebook & Twitter!
- Mango Chiles Rellenos Al Carbon
- Mango and Watermelon Salad
- Peanut Butter, Mango and Honey Roll Ups
- Mango and Black Bean Salsa
- Mango and Banana Smoothie
- Mango Yogurt and Granola Bowl

Taste the rainbow of nutrition!

Nutrition Notes: Colorful nutrition to brighten your health

by Jenna Olson RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

What does a nutritional day look like? Think color! The more colors on a plate, the greater the daily nutritional intake. Fruits and vegetables come in all different colors: red, orange, purple and green. They each consist of specific nutrients that, when mixed together, better cover the daily needs of vitamins and minerals for a healthy body. When putting together a salad, be sure to mix dark leafy greens with bright yellow and orange bell peppers, red tomatoes, and dried cranberries. Top it off with some sliced chicken breast and then sprinkle some feta chees to enjoy a full nutritious meal! Follow the links below to some MyPlate friendly recipes!

Avocado Breakfast Bruschetta
Apple Corn Chili
Turkey and Cucumber Sandwich
Easy Oven Fish

A volunteer hands a bag of nutritious food to a Food Bank client.

Catholic Charities – Downtown Awarded Nonprofit Partner of the Month

by Shelly Hahne, Nonprofit Services Manager

Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego has been serving the community for more than 95 years! It was first established in 1919 and because of its downtown location, a large proportion of those served by the food pantry are single-person households, homeless individuals, and seniors; but they welcome anyone who needs help putting food on the table.

Their unique and innovative food pantry services include a choice menu system and an “intake system” that calculates the caloric intake for each household, so every food selection is tailored to the client’s nutritional needs. The food pantry’s staff pre-screens clients for CalFresh eligibility and provide application assistance for those who qualify.

Catholic Charities – Downtown is planning to expand their current services within the next three to five years that will include:

- improving upon their healthy inventory
- making fresh produce available five days a week instead of just three days a week
- providing more nutrition education
- eliminating food items with a high sugar content including candy

Lisa DuMolt, Food Resource Centers Operations Manager, spent 26 years in the military working with logistics and chemical weapons and now manages food center operations.

“This is one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever had. It is nice to be able to provide a service that people appreciate so much, and I have met the most extraordinary people. From volunteers to the people we serve I have never met more courageous, intelligent, people with such a sense of humor. Their stories of personal courage are incredible to be a part of,” said DuMolt.

Catholic Charities- Downtown was selected as June’s Nonprofit Partner of the Month, because their reports are always on time and their staff is very good at communicating any anticipated changes to their monthly allocations with the Food Bank staff. This food pantry is open five days a week. Catholic Charities is a part of an innovative group of downtown agencies, who coordinate food services to ensure that people who need food in that area have excess every, single day.

Agency Profile

Agency Name: Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego
Phone Number for People Seeking Services: (619) 231-2828 x102
Emergency Food Assistance Program Location: 359 Cedar Street San Diego, CA 92101
Emergency Food Assistance Program Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - noon & 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.*
Amount of Emergency Food Assistance Program Food Distributed in the Last Year Totaled: 210,518 pounds (equivalent to 164,467 meals) for people facing hunger in our community 

*Please note: There is a sign-up for intake times at 8:00 a.m. and noon, which allows people the flexibility to set an appointment and leave to run errands. Space is limited to 40 households each.


Pour yourself a glass of clean drinking water!

Nutrition Notes: Healthy Hydration

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

With warmer temperatures and summer on its way, it’s important to remember to keep yourself hydrated! Our bodies are made up of about 60% water and every system of our body (from our Central Nervous System to our Immune System) depends on water in order to function properly! Water is hands-down the most essential nutrient, The question is, “Do you know how much water you should drink each day to stay hydrated?” Although adequate hydration differs for each individual depending on body weight and activity levels, the USDA recommends that adults consume six to eight 8-ounce glasses (equal to about two liters) of water each day. Hydration is a key component to health, but sometimes it can hard to remember to drink water throughout the day, especially with a busy schedule. This week try following a few of the tips listed below and drink up!

- Sweat = Water Loss : Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.

- Hungry or Thirsty? : Sometimes if you feel hungry, drink water first. It can be easy to confuse hydration needs with hunger pains.

- Drink Up Before You’re Thirsty : By the time you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated.

- Schedule It : Set reminders on your phone or calendar to drink a glass of water when you wake up and also with every meal.

- Go Green : Carry a reusable water bottle with you, so you can refill it throughout the day.

- Make It Fun : Are you looking to jazz up your water routine? Check out the links below for easy infused water recipes and ideas.

8 Infused Water Recipes

Feast Your Eyes On… Flavored Water

Infused Water Recipes

Do you have a favorite spa water recipe? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!


Be sure to shop the perimeter of the store for the freshest and most nutrient foods.

Nutrition Notes: 10 tips to become a savvy shopper

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

With rising food prices, it can be challenging to purchase groceries and prepare healthy meals. Below you will find 10 tips that can help stretch your food dollar.

1. Plan menus and make a list: Entering a grocery store without a shopping list can result on an additional  5-10 items. Try planning menus and writing a shopping list that corresponds with the store aisles or categories.

2. Use coupons and rewards cards: Clipping coupons can save you (on average) 10-15 percent on your grocery bill.

3. Buy store brands: These products are often less expensive than national brand products and usually maintain the same quality as national brands.

4. Compare unit prices: Many stores show this right on the price tag, so it is easy to compare products.

5. Read food labels: Make sure you try and find the most nutrient dens products using the % Daily Value on the nutrition facts label. Five percent or less is low-try to aim low in saturated fat, Trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. Twenty percent or more is high -try to aim high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.

6. Buy on sale and in bulk: This can be a great way to save, but only buy larger quantities if you have proper storage.

7. Shop the perimeter: This is where you will find the most nutritious products like fresh fruits and vegetables.

8. Shop seasonally: Fresh Produce often costs less when it’s in season. Check here for a list of what’s in season now.

9. Keep foods safe and prevent food waste:
Reference dates printed on food products, such as the use by and sell by dates, to help select the freshest products.

10. Pay attention at check-out: Make sure products ring up right at the register (especially any sale items you have in your cart).

Healthy eating starts with proper food preparation.

Keep It Clean in the Kitchen: The Stitch on Food Safety

by Theresa Carmichael, Nutrition Intern

Home food safety is extremely important, when it comes to overall health. Unfortunately, food poisoning is said to affect about 1 out of 6 Americans yearly and has a potential to result in hospitalization or even in extreme cases death. Food poisoning occurs when people eat foods that have been contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella, E. Coli, and others types of poisoning. The symptoms are related to the flu and are very undesirable. Certain people are at a higher risk including young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems because of pre-existing health conditions.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stresses the effects of food poisoning on health and have dedicated time to providing home food safety statistics and information to the public. Foods that commonly cause food poisoning when handled incorrectly include poultry, meat, fish, eggs, and sprouts. Follow the tips below to prevent food-borne illness in your household.

1. Keep it Clean – Washing hands with warm soap and water removes most of the bacteria that has accumulated on the hands during preparation. It is important to keep proper hygiene throughout the day in order to make sure anything you have come in contact with can be removed simply by hand-washing.

2. The Great Divide – Separate raw foods from food that has already been cooked. Designating different cutting boards for raw foods and cooked foods is an excellent way to make sure there is no cross contamination in food preparation. Also, paying close attention to where foods are placed during preparation is required for effective food safety. Washing all cutting boards, plates, and utensils if unsure of cross-contamination is highly recommended.

3. Bring on the Heat – Cook all raw foods at the correct temperature Specific temperatures are required for each type of food based on their make-up.  Some of the commonly used temperatures are as follows (given in degrees Fahrenheit):

Poultry: 165°
Beef: 145°
Seafood: 145°
Leftovers: 175°

4. Chill Out – Refrigerate leftover food to 40° Fahrenheit (or below) immediately after you finish eating. For remaining food items, place them in the refrigerator after they cool down. It is dangerous to put warm food in the refrigerator due to potential temperature changes of total storage. This change in temperature can affect the surrounding foods by placing it in the “hazard zone”: 40-140° Fahrenheit.

Modeling food safety for other family members is vital to keeping the home safe. Cooking, preparing, and eating together can help decrease the rate of food-borne illnesses at home. Check out this website and watch fun videos that can help you remember the four steps to food safety (Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill).

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