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Nutrition Notes: Stay Healthy and Save Money Traveling This Summer

by Jenna Richter, Dietetic Intern

It doesn’t matter who you are, even with the slightest mention of “airplane food,” a collective groan or general look of disgust is bound to emerge. I get it. It’s easy to grab a quick burger from a fast food joint while you’re shuffling between terminals or driving in the car, but let’s be honest, even if fast food was primarily healthy, having it every day while you’re on vacation gets old pretty quickly.

The good news is, with a little planning ahead, you don’t need to rely on what’s in the airport or off the side of the road for a bite to eat during your summer travels. What some people might be unaware of, is that in the United States (and in most other countries), you are allowed to bring your own food with you to the airport and onboard the plane (yes- something you can do on a plane. Cue the applause!)

Below you can find some TSA-approved snack ideas that can easily be packed and transported with you on the plane, the car or any other mode of transportation you so choose:

1. Homemade sandwiches wrapped in parchment paper, and stored in a quart-sized plastic bag (that part is specific to plane travel.) Remember that all food that you carry on a plane will need to go through the x-ray machine, so be sure not to use any foil.

2. Dips and sauces such as hummus, salsa and almond butter can come on the plane, but remember, they need to be in a 3.4 ounce container or smaller and placed into a quart-sized plastic bag. The travel-size packs that are available from some brands are perfect!

3. Fresh fruits and veggies, such as apples, bananas and avocados. Just wash them at home or in your hotel room before you put them in your bag. You can also bring a butter knife with you if you’re traveling by plane (believe it or not.) Keep in mind however that if you’re traveling internationally, fresh fruits and veggies may not be allowed through customs, so for these trips you may need to just pack enough to get you through your flight, otherwise you’ll be forced to throw away any extra food. If you’re traveling by car, these items should ideally be kept in a cooler in the backseat of your car as opposed to the trunk where they are less likely to be kept cool by the air conditioner.

4. Crunchy snacks such as crackers, popcorn, kale chips, etc.

5. Dried fruit and raw nuts- these make a great snack while you’re on the go. You can make your own mix: 1/2 cup each of raw almonds, coconut flakes, dried cherries or raisins, and raw walnuts. Airports and convenience shops usually have trail mix available for purchase, but they often contain inflammatory oils, or other additives.

6. Pre-made salads. Salad dressing can be packed separately as long as it’s in a 3.4 oz. or smaller container (again, for traveling by plane only.) However, a great tip is to simply pour your dressing in the bottom of the bowl or container first, and then layer your greens on top for mixing in later so you don’t need to bring a separate container for your dressing, and your salad stays minimally soggy. (Just don’t forget to bring a fork- and yes, this too is allowed to be carried on the plane with you!)

7. Empty thermos and empty water bottles – any size. These are great for filling up after you get through security in an airport, or when you’re on the road and make periodic stops for water. Bringing your own refillable water bottles will also save you money as opposed to buying bottled water. If you’re going to any countries where you fear for the safety of their tap water, there are special water bottles available with filters inside. Check out this site to see if the tap water in the country you’re visiting is considered safe or not. Tip: Bring your own tea bags in your bag with you, and enjoy something warm and soothing to drink during your busy travel days!

For additional information about what is allowed on board your plane, check out the TSA’s website and search for specific foods or other items. If you are traveling internationally, make sure you review any customs restrictions for the country you’re visiting- these may differ from TSA’s rules.

You may be thinking, okay great I’m allowed to bring all this food with me but how will I carry it all? There are actually plenty of carry-on-size, travel-friendly coolers that you can count as your second carry-on bag, or conveniently keep in your car! Tip: you can use frozen berries or other frozen foods to keep perishable food cold inside your cooler, and not waste space with excess ice; plus, if you bring some plain, low fat yogurt with you, you can top your yogurt with berries after they’ve defrosted a bit! The TSA does allow frozen food (including ice) as long as it’s completely frozen upon coming through security (again, going back to the “no more than 3.4 ounce liquid rule.”) Still wanting some healthy snack ideas to bring with you? For some specific food items to consider packing, check this list out, and this one too!

Remember! Maintaining a nutrient-rich diet is critical each day, but especially while traveling. Being in close contact with so many people may compromise your immune system, especially if you’re not receiving adequate immuno-boosting vitamins and minerals from your diet. Also, staying sedentary for long periods of time may upset your body’s usual digestive processes. It’s important to take walks whenever possible, drink plenty of water, and do your best to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to ensure an all-around, pleasant travelling experience- your tummies will thank you!

Tips and tricks adopted from Food Babe, and

Take your dining outside this summer.

Nutrition Notes: Pack a Picnic

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Summer is here and beach season is upon us! Cookouts and picnics are longtime summer traditions, generally a time for family and friends to socialize and have fun while enjoying food and sunshine. Since these gatherings most often occur outside, food safety is very important. Hot summer temperatures can easily cause food bacteria to multiply quickly and can quickly ruin summer afternoon plans. Remembering to prepare and store food safely this summer can keep your picnics safe and fun. Below are the four important food safety steps to follow this summer:

Clean: Bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including utensils, your hands and cutting boards. Make sure to always wash your hands for 20 seconds using warm and soapy water. Always use clean utensils to prevent the possibility of cross contamination and the spread of bacteria. Also, when you are preparing fresh fruits and vegetables, make sure to wash them even if you plan to peel them. It is important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside of the produce to the inside once you peel or cut them open.

Separate: Always keep raw poultry, eggs and meat separate from your fresh read-to-eat foods. This prevents the possibility for cross-contamination at any potential time of contact. When storing these items in the fridge they should always be stored in containers or plastic bags and placed on the bottom shelf to prevent the possibility of their juices dripping onto fresh produce items.

Cook: Cooking food to the proper temperature is very important. Bacteria grows the quickest in the “Danger Zone” between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit. Always make sure to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. You can learn more about BBQ food safety here: Barbecue and Food Safety. Also, it is important to know what temperatures are considered safe when cooking, please refer to this list: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures.

Chill: Once your picnic is over it is important to cool foods properly to prevent food borne illness. It is important to refrigerate perishable foods within two hours; however, in the summer months, it is best to get food into the fridge within an hour. Also, never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Since bacteria can multiply quickly at room temperature, this common practice is very risky. Instead of thawing foods on the counter you have a few food safe options:

1. Thaw in the Fridge: This is the safest way to thaw meat. Place the item on a plate or in a pan, and place it in the fridge to thaw.

2. Thaw in Cold Water: If you need to thaw something a bit quicker, place the frozen item in an airtight plastic bag and submerge it under COLD water. Make sure to change the water every 30 minutes so the water stays cold.

3. Thaw in the Microwave: Each microwave has individualized instructions for thawing so check your owner’s manual. If thawing by cold water or microwave make sure to cook the item immediately after thawing.

4. Cook without Thawing: If you don’t have enough time to thaw, you can cook your food from a frozen state but make sure to check the final temperature before eating since it does take longer to cook fully.

By following the four food safety steps listed above, you can ensure that you have a safe picnic and cookout this summer. Feel free to find additional information related to food safety as well as the ability to have a few food safety myths debunked by clicking here.

This site has provided 76,700 pounds of USDA commodities, equivalent to 63,916 meals, in the past year.

Imperial Beach United Methodist Church selected May Nonprofit Partner of the Month!

by Shelly Hahne, Nonprofit Services Manager

The Imperial Beach United Methodist Church supplies emergency food to the Imperial Beach community. This site has provided 76,700 pounds of USDA commodities, equivalent to 63,916 meals, in the past year. There is limited access to food resources in this area and this agency helps to ensure access to food for more than 200 households each month.

Pastor John Griffin has taken a unique and innovative approach to fighting hunger in this community. He has initiated a movement of cross-sector supporters to help. From local businesses to government entities, he wants to ensure everyone in the community pulls together to create a safety net for those people facing hunger. Meeting on a regular basis, this group coordinates food drives, fundraising efforts, and raises general awareness to the needs of the community. Pastor Griffin’s leadership is inspiring!

Janice Sartoria-Bollas leads this group’s distribution with confidence. She is incredibly dedicated to fighting hunger in the Imperial Beach community. We honor Imperial Beach United Methodist, because of her organizational skills, open communication and dedication.

Thank you to Imperial Beach United Methodist Church for your hunger-relief partnership. We are proud to honor you as EFAP’s May Nonprofit Partner of the Month.

Protein really packs a punch when it comes to nutrition!

Nutrition Notes: Protein – Why is it Important?

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

We all need protein, but how much is enough? Most people (ages 9 and older) should eat 5 to 7 ounces of protein-rich foods each day. What does 5 to 7 ounces look like? Well to keep things simple here are some common portion size equivalents:

- 3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry is equivalent in size to a deck of cards or iPod
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or hummus is equal to 1 ping-pong ball (2 ounces)
- ½ cup cooked beans is equal to the size of 1 baseball (1 ounce)
- ¼ cup of nuts is equal to the size of 1 golf ball (1 ounce)

Protein comes in many forms whether it is from meat, poultry, and beans or dairy, so why is protein an important component of a healthy diet? Proteins are made up of amino acids and play many critical roles in the body. Protein is the building blocks of all of the body’s cells. They are important for the structure, function and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. So without enough protein in our daily diets, it could lead to detrimental effects on the entire body. Some examples of not obtaining enough protein include:

- Being tired or experiencing less energy
- When injured it can take much longer to recover
- You may get sick more often

We all need protein, and it is also recommended to vary our protein sources, which would include both animal (meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs) and plant (beans, peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds). Frozen proteins are also beneficial as well because they last longer and can generally be used for multiple meals (i.e. a whole frozen chicken can be eaten for a meal, leftovers stored and the bones can be used to create a soup stock). Looking for additional protein tips and ideas on how to switch up your protein routine? Check out 10 Tips for Choosing Protein.

Did you know? The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970.

Nutrition Notes: Get Out and Move to Celebrate Earth Day

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Wednesday, April 22, marks the 45th annual Earth Day! With summer poking its head out and the weather warming up, it’s time to get back outside and move! According to a study published in Medicine Science Sports Exercise, being physically inactive is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke and is linked to cardiovascular mortality. Being active helps control weight, diabetes, and blood lipid abnormalities. It also strengthens bones and muscles which in turn prevents injuries. Physical activity is also known to improve your mood and mental health.

Being physically active is different for each person. Some people love to run; others may enjoy biking, kayaking, skating, walking, playing basketball, hiking, and so on. If you have kids don’t just watch them play, play with them! I encourage you to get moving! For those that already are active and for those that aren’t, challenge yourself daily to improve your overall health. Feel better, look better, and be healthier by incorporating moderate to vigorous activity daily. Live longer, move easier, and be happier! Looking for a few ideas to give back to Mother Earth, below you will find a few Earth friendly activity ideas.

- Start your own compost
- Plant a tree, new flower or vegetable plant
- Start Meatless Monday in your household
- Shop your local farmers market

In honor of Earth Day, check out the Earth Day Network where you can learn more about the history of the Earth Day environmental movement.

Volunteers not only bag fresh produce, but they also put together boxes of nutrient-dense food for low-income seniors.

Volunteers receive All-Star recognition during National Volunteer Week

by Stephanie Schauer, Communications Associate

National Volunteer Week is here, and it serves as the perfect opportunity for nonprofit organizations like the San Diego Food Bank to give thanks to the people who play an important part in our mission to end hunger in San Diego County.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of any nonprofit – but with the SD Food Bank, they are an integral part of everything we do. Without their dedicated support, there is no way that we could spend 94% of every dollar on providing food to the 370,000 people we serve every month. We love our volunteers,” said Food Bank President and CEO, Jim Floros.

Last year, the Food Bank’s warehouse was visited 25,155 times by folks looking to help out their community, and together they spent a grand total of 53,727 hours assisting where needed.

Our awe-inspiring volunteers do everything from inspecting and sorting food donations to bagging fresh fruits and vegetables to packing nutritious meals for our senior client population. Sometimes, they can even be found lending a helping hand at one of our many food distribution sites giving fresh produce and nutritious food to those who face hunger in various neighborhoods.

“You come face to face with those in need and see how what we do in the warehouse directly affects the community we serve,” said longtime Food Bank volunteer, Paul Amberg.

The Food Bank will be honoring dozens of its volunteers like Amberg at its first-ever Volunteer Recognition Ceremony on Wednesday, April 15.

Are you interested in making an impact? Click here to register to be a volunteer for the San Diego Food Bank , and remember to check in on Facebook to share your experience with friends.

Nestor Methodist Church (Image provided by Google Maps)

Nestor Methodist Church selected as April Nonprofit Partner of the Month!

by Shelly Hahne, Nonprofit Services Manager

In the past year, the equivalent of more than 82,000 meals (98,963 pounds of food) have been distributed by this dedicated group of staff and volunteers of Nestor Methodist Church’s food program. Each month they provide nearly 300 households with emergency food, reaching more than 1,300 people facing hunger.

This site provides monthly EFAP packages in the South Bay area. Congratulations to the Nestor Methodist Church team for the amazing work you do!

April is National Gardening Month!

Nutrition Notes: Celebrate National Gardening Month

by Jenna Olson, RD, Nutrition & Wellness Educator

April is National Gardening Month! As the warmer temperatures are upon us, it marks the perfect time to start your very own garden. So what are the benefits of having your own garden?

Nutritious and Tasty Food: Research has shown that home grown foods are usually more nutrient dense and sometimes freshly gardened produce can be tastier than store-bought produce.

Exercise: Gardening is a great rouce of exercise for the body and the mind. It serves as a great stress reliever, and it is a great way to get outside and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air. It also serves as a chance to use your creative side and design how you’d like your garden to look.

Save Money: Growing your own food can make stretching your food budget much easier when you can find your essential fruits and vegetables right in your own backyard!

Teaching Tool: Help educate the little ones in your life by teaching them how fruits and vegetables are grown and and what they look like before they arrive at the local supermarket. A garden serves as a great teaching tool for children to learn where their food comes from.

Balanced Diet: When you have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables, it makes it that much easier to consume more fruits and vegetables each and every day. You gain more appreciation for the growing process when it occurs in your own backyard.

Never grown your own food before? No problem! Planning My Garden is a great interactive tool that has growing guides on 15 different vegetables. Each growing guide includes where to plant, spacing and depth, special care instructions and most importantly, when to harvest!

If you are interested in trying out your green thumb skills but don’t have the space, you can look into container gardening. Here is a great easy 4-step guide to get your small garden started. Celebrate National Gardening Month this month by starting your own small garden this spring! Happy digging!

Have a picky eater on your hands? Read the tips below !

Nutrition Notes: What to do when you have a picky eater at home

by Ana de Castro, Dietetic Intern

While having a picky child may be stressful, it is (in most cases) a normal part of development. Disliking a new fruit or vegetable the first time they try it is a very normal reaction. As long as their refusal doesn’t involve all foods, it’s generally not a problem.

In this case, persistence counts. In order to feel comfortable eating something, the child often has to become familiar with it. So make sure the food is visible by having it on the table and available to them. If many attempts have been made to introduce a food to the child and they continually reject it, consider taking it off the table and reintroducing it in about a month’s time.

Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters. Getting your child to try new foods can often feel like a chore, but you can make this challenge easier by using the following strategies:

1. Don’t become a short order cook. If your child is refusing to eat certain foods, you may be tempted to provide a separate meal. However, giving your child too many options for meals might only complicate things. If they know you’ll make them something else they already like, they won’t take the opportunity to try new foods.

2. Make mealtime a sit-down event. When kids are constantly eating on the go, they get used to fast-food items and other foods that can be easily taken on the road. These typically do not include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Plus, getting kids used to eating meals at the table gives them the opportunity to try new foods.

3. Plan your snacks. Allowing kids to graze all day long might cause them to not be hungry when it comes time for dinner and not be willing to try new foods. Separate snacks from meals and make snack time a planned, sit-down event. And there should be at least an hour or two between a snack and a meal to allow time for the child to become hungry again.

4. Don’t make a big issue of it. Besides raising your own stress level, making a big fuss over a picky eater can be pointless. If a child realizes that refusing food gets them a lot of attention, they might keep doing it, especially at a younger age.

5. Make it fun. Consider making it ‘Yellow Day,’ when you and the kids have to wear something yellow and also pick out a yellow fruit or vegetable to eat. Involving the kids in choosing the foods, and maybe even helping to cook them, can also spark their interest and is another way to build familiarity with a new food.

6. Hide the ingredients. You can easily get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables by hiding them in foods they already enjoy. While it’s a great way to get kids to fulfill their daily servings, it’s important to recognize that this should not be your only approach to encouraging healthy eating. Kids need to acquire a taste for fruits and vegetables alone, so that they don’t grow up avoiding them.

The team at the Fallbrook Food Pantry works hard to ensure their community receives the food assistance it needs.

Fallbrook Food Pantry selected as March Nonprofit Partner of the Month!

by Shelly Hahne, Nonprofit Services Manager

In the past year, 381,407 pounds of food (the equivalent of 317,839 meals) were distributed by this dedicated group of staff and volunteers at the Fallbrook Food Pantry. They operate a comprehensive program, utilizing a variety of resources available to them. About 1/3 of the product they distribute is EFAP commodities, 1/3 is fresh produce and another 1/3 is non-perishable food from the San Diego Food Bank’s Food Center. Fallbrook truly has a pulse on the needs of their community and accesses a variety of food sources to meet those needs.

Operations Manager Jennifer Vetch and her team ensure that monthly reports are submitted on time and communicate frequently with Food Bank staff to ensure their community’s needs are met. Because of their impeccable communication, commitment to serve their community and incredible resourcefulness, Fallbrook Food Pantry has been selected a March’s Agency of the Month.

In addition to providing EFAP packages monthly and operating an ongoing food pantry, Fallbrook operates a Neighborhood Distribution on the last Wednesday of each month. Last year, they distributed more than 160,000 pounds of fresh produce to their community. A key focus on nutrition is at the forefront of this program’s services.

Congratulations to the Fallbrook Food Pantry team for the amazing work you do!

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