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).

Ancient grains

Nutrition Notes: Serving up the scoop on ancient grains

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Below are a few of the great grains. This week, try incorporating one or two of them into your favorite dish. You will not be disappointed!

1. Quinoa: (pronounced “keen-wah”)  This South America native grain can be substituted for rice in any dish. It cooks rather quickly, is high in protein, and is a great source of iron and magnesium. Try Quinoa Veggie Salad for a fresh lunch!

2. Spelt Berries: This sweet and nutty grain tastes a little like barley and dates back to a time before wheat was commonly used. It was an important grain in ancient Greece and Rome. It is high in protein and fiber and when cooked, can be similar to a risotto. Try this protein-packed salad: Energizing Protein Power Salad.

3. Amaranth: This grain was a favorite among the Native Americans and the Aztecs (not San Diego State Aztecs). This grain is rich in iron, protein, and calcium. Switch out your usual morning oatmeal for this: Blueberry Amaranth Porridge.

4. Millet: This is the smallest of the ancient grains and is actually the name given to a group of several different small grains. It is a great source of magnesium and can be added into your favorite breads, cereals, or soups. Try Millet-Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes” as a new side dish this week!

Incorporating different grains is a great way to get a variety of nutritional benefits and can give family favorites fun and exciting new tastes! Do you have any favorite recipes that use ancient grains? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Source: Food and Drug Administration

Nutrition Notes: Nutrition Label Makeover

Deciding which foods to buy at the grocery store may soon get a little easier. A major buzz over the past few weeks has involved the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed changes to food and drink nutrition labels. The changes will be the first major makeover in the last 20 years. The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which first passed in 1990, was the first regulated food packaging requirement that mandated all packaged foods to have nutrition facts and health claims. With the variety of packaged food products on store shelves today, many health professionals felt these changes are well overdue.

The alterations of the nutrition label, as seen above, will spotlight calories and will update serving sizes to match what consumers actually eat or drink. For example, a 20 ounce soda that is usually consumed in one sitting will no longer be two and a half servings. Instead, its label will represent the nutrition information for one serving, making the label more user-friendly. Another addition to the new label will be a line for added sugars. Although natural sugar and added sugar are chemically the same, studies show that many Americans typically eat more sugar than they realize. By adding an additional line to the nutrition label to draw focus to packaged foods’ added sugar content, it will allow consumers to gain a better understanding of what they choose to eat and drink.

All in all, these proposed changes will help shoppers by making it easier to pinpoint a healthier option when comparing products in the grocery aisle. What do you think of the proposed nutrition label changes? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Read more about the proposed changes on CNN.

A spoonful of nutrition

Nutrition Notes: March is National Nutrition Month

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition and Wellness Educator

This coming weekend marks the beginning of National Nutrition Month. This campaign was launched in 1973 when it was initially recognized as National Nutrition Week. This week provided an opportunity to promote and educate the public about health and wellness. By its fourth year, National Nutrition Week had grown immensely in the number of people it reached and in response to the campaign’s growth; it was expanded to National Nutrition Month in 1980. Every year, the month of March encompasses a different nutrition-focused theme to encourage nutritious choices. This year’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” Research shows that taste is a driving force when making food choices, so learning ways to make healthy and tasty meals is an important step to healthy eating. Challenging lifelong eating habits may be hard, although with the right tools it can be easy to modify your habits to start on a new path to a happy, healthy you!

Here are a few tips to make sure nutrient-dense choices are always an easy go-to option anywhere, anytime!

- Choose whole grain bread over white or enriched wheat flour when making sandwiches.
- Avoid fried or battered foods and instead look for bakes or broiled options.
- Choose low-fat plain Greek yogurt and top with frozen fruit and granola for a delicious, pre-made parfait.
- Adopt ‘Meatless Mondays’ in your home and try new colorful vegetable-based recipes.
- Cut up fruits and vegetables right after you bring them home from the store, so they are an easy-to-grab snack.

“Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” by consuming meals that pack the most nutrients for their punch, try to eat a meal full of color. So this month, try a new fruit or vegetable, or better yet try a fun new recipe! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Spaghetti Squash Primavera                                           Lemony Kale Salad
How to Prepare an Artichoke                                          Mashed Cauliflower

American Heart Health Month

Nutrition Notes: Heart Health

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

In honor of American Heart Health Month, this week’s blog post has a few tips on how to revive poor eating habits and get them on a heart-healthy track. According to the American Heart Association, nine out of ten Americans consume too much sodium. On average, Americans consume more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium on a daily basis, which is well over the recommended amount of 1,500 milligrams. So, where does all the sodium come from? The majority of the sodium consumed by Americans is found in packaged store bought foods along with restaurant meals.

Excess sodium consumption increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke later on in life. In order to lower your risk of developing health problems like the ones previously mentioned, try to choose low-sodium options when possible.

Here are some tips to help you keep your heart pumping:

1. Choose low-sodium foods when shopping at the store by taking time to read the Nutrition Facts label.
- Try to choose individual food items that have 200 milligrams of sodium or less.
- Try to choose meal options that have 650 milligrams of sodium or less.

2. Try to incorporate new spices and herbs when cooking like the one below:
- All-Purpose Seasoning

3. Take the salt shaker off the kitchen table.
- If it is out of sight, it is less likely to be used.

Try out a few of these heart-healthy recipes from that will help get you in the spirit of Heart Health Month!

Quick Stir-Fry

Quick and Easy Quinoa

BBQ Turkey in Pepper Shells

How much sugar do you think is in a soda?

Nutrition Notes: Sugar, How Much is Too Much?

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

February marks the beginning of the American Heart Health Month and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, how much sugar is too much? A recent article in the Jama Internal Medicine found that most adults consume about 10% of their recommended daily calories from added sugar alone. So, what is the recommended daily limit for added sugar consumption? For men, it is recommended to keep added sugar limited to nine teaspoons per day, which breaks down to 36 grams or 145 calories. Then, when it comes to women, they should keep it to six teaspoons a day, which the equivalent of 24 grams or 100 calories.

With these recommendations, it should be noted that sugar can be found in two forms within the diet, either it is produced naturally or it is added. Natural sugars are found in fruits and dairy products and they provide us with additional nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy. On the other hand, added sugars are sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup and white sugar that are added to products during the manufacturing process. These added sugars provide the body with ‘empty’ calories, meaning that they provide little to no nutritional value.

So, how do we determine the sugar content of food items at the store? Take your favorite snack bar for example, look at the nutrition facts label. How many grams of sugar does it contain? If you take the total grams of sugar and divide that number by four, that will equal how many teaspoons or sugar cubes your snack bar contains per serving. (Note: 1 teaspoon = 1 sugar cube.) This exercise not only provides a great visual, but also an understanding of how much added sugar is hiding in foods consumed on a daily basis. So, when it is time for an afternoon snack, be sure to check the label! How does the sugar content stack up?

Here are a few examples of sugar content in common foods:

- Snack bar: 21g of total sugar = 5 sugar cube
- 20 oz. bottle of soda: 65g of total sugar = 16 sugar cubes
- Breakfast pastries (2): 34g of total sugar = 8.5 sugar cubes

Innovations Restaurant Academy

Local students cook up a fundraiser to help the Food Bank

by Stephanie Schauer, Communications Associate

Students at Innovations Academy in Scripps Ranch showcased their fall projects for family and local community members back in December. One project that made a big impact was their cooking project. Middle school students volunteered at the Food Bank and felt inspired to do more to help hungry San Diegans.

“After visiting and volunteering at the Food Bank, we decided that this was the project we wanted to donate our Empty Bowl Fundraiser proceeds to. We really liked how much they are doing to help fight hunger in our community,” said eighth grade student, Spencer Ryan, and sixth grader, Paige Hugelmaier.

To prepare for the Empty Bowl Fundraiser, students went to Claytime Ceramics in Ocean Beach to design the donated ceramic bowls that were later auctioned off at Exhibition Night. They also featured the school’s Top Chefs (students who earlier participated in a school cook-off challenge) and prepared dishes to sell to people that evening. The night was a great success and students were able to donate two bins full of nonperishable food items and also collected $823 in monetary donations, which will provide 4,115 meals to hungry individuals and families. They were so inspired that they have decided to continue collecting food for the Food Bank and its hunger-relief programs for the remainder of the school year.

“This is the meaningful learning that we believe is the pillar to preparing our students for the twenty-first century, where they will be expected to collaborate, communicate, and interface with challenging problems,” said Innovations Academy teacher, Beth Foster.

Sit those chips on the sideline and reach for something more healthy.

Nutrition Notes: Taming the Super Bowl frenzy

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

America’s second largest day of overindulging (second to Thanksgiving) is only days away. According to the Snack Food Association, Americans on average will double their daily food intake on Super Bowl Sunday by consuming about 1,200 calories while watching the big game. So where you will be watching the big game this Sunday? Although, more importantly, what dish will you be bringing to pass around to your friends and family? The Super Bowl is typically associated with high calorie foods and drinks as everyone cheers on their team (or finds a spot on the couch to watch every commercial along with the big half-time show), so try balancing those wings with a healthy dip or alternative.

The last nutrition post discussed the importance of incorporating the MyPlate guidelines into each meal to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle. So with those tips in mind, try a new dish on Super Bowl Sunday this year! You never know it may be a huge hit that will be requested at other events throughout the year! A few recipes listed below are easy to make and are sure to be crowd pleasers without the guilt-ridden calories!

Spring Spread                                                 Crispy Taquitos

Black Bean Dip                                               Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Southwestern Layered Bean Dip                 Baked Chicken Fingers

Choose My Plate

Nutrition Notes: Healthy meals made simple

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Almost two years ago, the USDA unveiled the MyPlate food guide. The MyPlate graphic was designed to make it easier to visualize what a healthy meal should look like when it comes to what you are eating. Listed below are a few tips to help your plate look more colorful at each meal. So, when you sit down to eat your next meal, check your plate. How many tips does your meal incorporate?

Balance calories:
Find out how many calories you need each day to help manage your weight. Check out to find an estimate of how many calories you need each day.

Enjoy your food, but eat less:
Try slowing down when eating and pay attention to hunger and satiety cues.

Keep size in check:
Avoid oversized portions.

Take a bite out of fresh produce:
Eat more fruits and vegetables by making them fill up half your plate at each meal.

Change it up:

- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Make half of your grains whole grains.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Here are a few sample recipes that you can try out that follow the MyPlate guidelines:

Brown Rice with Sizzling Chicken and Vegetables

Spinach Salad with Apples and Eggs

Herbed Garden Pizzas
(Note: If you do not have pizza crust, try using whole wheat tortillas to make individual pizzas.)

Do you have any favorite recipes that fit the MyPlate guidelines?

Share them with us on Facebook & Twitter!

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