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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Making Soup

Minestrone soup

At St. Luke’s food pantry in Bridgeport UConn Extension reaches SNAP recipients with healthy eating tips and recipes. Heather Peracchio made minestrone soup with attendees. Canned vegetables are best for our health when labeled “no salt added,” or if you have regular or reduced sodium rinsing and draining the veggies or beans can help to remove up to 40% of the sodium. Here is the recipe.

 

Meal Preparation for Infants

UConnExtension’s Heather Pease worked with students at the New Britain CREC Medical Professions and Teacher Preparation Academy to make meals for children ages 6-months to 12-months. Some food groups are not represented because they did not have access to all food groups. The focus was on portion and texture of mainly vegetables, fruit and cereal. They also learned how to make formula and the importance of measuring. A special thank you to teacher Julia Porter for all of her efforts on this.

meal for 7-8 month old

 

See RED on Valentine’s Day

By Alice Henneman, MS, RDN

Nebraska Extension Educator

 

red heartSee “Red” on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year. Red fruits and vegetables contain many health-promoting phytochemicals including lycopene and anthocyanins. This color group may help promote:

  • A lower risk of some cancers
  • A healthy heart
  • Memory health
  • Urinary tract health

Red fruits and vegetables include: Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, tomato juice, red peppers, red onions, beets, red cabbage, kidney beans, apples, pink grapefruit, red grapes, strawberries, cherries, watermelon, raspberries, cranberries and pomegranates. Some “red” ideas for Valentine’s Day (or any day!) include:

– Heart-shaped pizza. Shape pizza dough into a heart. Or, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make individual hearts from pizza dough. Spread with your favorite tomato pizza sauce. Add your choice of toppings.

– Pasta with tomato sauce. For added fun, serve heart-shaped pasta — check with stores offering specialty pasta shapes or order some online. Check delivery time if you order online.

– Add a few of those tiny red-hot cinnamon heart candies to a popcorn snack

– Tossed salad with such red additions as red bell peppers, cherry or grape tomatoes

– Make a polka-dotted open-faced peanut butter sandwich. Cut bread into a heart shape, spread with peanut butter and dot with dried cranberries. Or, make a smiley face with the dried cranberries. Another idea would be to purchase some heart-shaped crackers, if available at your local store; substitute for the bread.

– Cole slaw made with such red foods as red peppers, red onions, and apples or made with red cabbage Cranberry sauce — use that bag of cranberries in your freezer that you bought when they were on sale

– Oatmeal topped with a heart shape, made with dried cranberries or dried cherries

– Raspberry smoothie — Put 3/4 to 1 cup vanilla-flavored yogurt in a blender. Add a few tablespoons of frozen raspberries at a time; blend until desired consistency. After mixing — if desired — blend in 1 or more teaspoons of sugar or no calorie sweetener to taste.

– Pink/red grapefruit half topped with a sprinkle of brown sugar

– Red grapes as a side dish to your sandwich for noontime nibbling

Garden Programs in Fairfield County

Originally published by Naturally@UConn on December 16, 2014

Written by: Kim Markesich

Fairfield County gardening programs teach nutrition, integrated pest management and life skills

The Fairfield County Extension Center Demonstration Garden

The Fairfield County Extension Center Demonstration Garden

The Fairfield County Extension Center hosts a variety of gardening programs, and the season just past was a successful and bountiful one.

With the support of a five-year grant from USDA/NIFA’s Children,  Family, and Youth at Risk Program (CYFAR), Edith Valiquette, 4-H youth development educator, coordinates an urban 4-H garden program for sixth through eighth grade students at Barnum Elementary School in Bridgeport. German Cutz, associate extension educator, serves as principal investigator for the grant.

Students attend the program four hours each week during the school year and eight hours a week during the summer. The curriculum focuses on gardening, workforce readiness and technology.

Students learn about nutrition, gardening and healthy meal preparation while working together as a group. They explore agriculture by visiting local farms and participate in community service projects. Students designed, filmed and edited videos to teach healthy eating and used these guides to mentor younger students. Students also participated in a Christmas program presented in nursing homes.

“The program allows kids to have fun while learning valuable skills such as leadership and life skills,” says Valiquette. “The program brings these 4-H opportunities to urban neighborhoods.”

 

The group produced 2,000 pounds of vegetables in 24 raised beds. Their carrots won Best of Show at the Fairfield County 4-H Fair. A portion of the harvested produce is used for cooking classes, while the remainder is sent home with students to supplement family meals.

Read more…

Fighting the Good Food Fight

CONN. Farmers, UCONN FIGHTING THE GOOD FOOD FIGHT

By Jessica Griffin
On August 24, 2014

Clemson cucumbersAs processed foods loaded with fat, sugars and salt, become increasingly cheap and convenient for Americans, the fight to maintain health and nutrition becomes more and more relevant. In the spirit of spreading awareness for the importance of making good choices while purchasing food, a nutritional outreach program, one of many across Connecticut, is occurring through UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) and UConn Extension.

These outreach programs take place at Connecticut farmers’ markets in east Bridgeport and Danbury. The Farmers’ Market in Bridgeport is run in collaboration with Wholesome Wave, a national organization based in Bridgeport dedicated to increasing affordability and availability of fresh foods to Americans.

The Danbury Farmers’ Market is run by the Danbury Farmers’ Market Community Collaborative (DFMCC) “Better Health Through Better Food” initiative.

Heather Peracchio, a dietitian and UConn Masters in Allied Health Sciences ’08 alumna, has been working as an educator at farmers’ markets since 2006. At the farmers’ market, she gives out healthy recipes, answers questions and presents to the public about making the best nutritional choices.

Read more…

Eat Seasonally: Enjoy Nature’s “Fast Food”

628x471Originally Posted by Danbury News Times

Heather Peracchio of UConn Extension is a registered dietitian who lives in Brookfield. But she’s happy to travel if there’s a chance to spread the word about healthy eating.

This past Monday she gave two nutrition/cooking lessons, one in Bridgeport and one in Norwalk. Among her messages — the importance of eating seasonally.

“Eating seasonally is eating fresh produce found locally,” she said. “An example would be eating strawberries in June and blueberries in July.”

Peracchio said there are numerous benefits to eating seasonally. One is that you get to enjoy fruits and vegetables at their peak, when they offer the highest nutritional content. This helps support our bodies natural cleansing and healing abilities.

“And there’s an infinite variety, so there’s always something new to try,” she said.

Read more…

4-H FANs IM Success Stories

4-H FANs logoConnecticut Fitness and Nutrition Clubs In Motion (CT FANs IM), is a 4-H Afterschool program designed to reduce obesity rates in children ages 9 to 14, through sustainable interventions surrounding food and fitness. The program is a collaboration between the UConn Extension, and the Department of Kinesiology. CT FANs IM, was modeled after the original 4-H FANs Fitness and Nutrition Clubs, a USDA Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Program. Here are some of their recent success stories.

 

Teen Mentor Gains Real World Experience

 

NajeiaNajeia served as a 4-H FANs teen mentor during the summer of 2010 and 2011. She is currently a senior at Tufts University, majoring in community health and American studies, with a minor in sociology.

 

“I really enjoyed working with the youth in the 4-H FANs program,” Najeia says. “I applied for the program through Youth@Work, and I was thankful to be matched with a health promotion program. It was helpful to me, as it provided a real world experience, and allowed me to take a leadership role while learning many new skills.”

 

Originally, Najeia was interested in becoming a physician, but through her studies, she has focused on public health. Upon graduation, she plans to work in the field for a few years before pursuing a Master’s degree in public health. She hopes to become a director in a community health organization, where she plans to focus on promoting health equity; in particular, breaking down social barriers that are targeted at marginalized communities.

 

“I’d like to work with kids in some capacity when I’m in the field,” Najeia says. “As a public health professional, I would like to initiate programs for youth and follow the 4-H FANs model, where youth disseminate health promotion information within the community.”

 

Najeia is quick to point out that while being a 4-H FANs teen mentor was a good experience, she also had a lot of fun. “I really enjoyed my time there. Particularly when we introduced dance to the kids as a way to exercise. They loved it. Especially the cha cha slide!”

 

4-H FANs IM Summer Garden

 

FANs gardenGrowing vegetables was a big hit with the students participating in the 4-H FANs IM Summer Program at Roger Sherman School. Amy Sandoval, UConn Extension Public Service Specialist notes, “Youth were so excited when they noticed veggies growing. They would say, ‘Oh, my babies, they are growing!'”

 

Teen Mentor Attends UConn

 

Fontaine joined the New Haven 4-H FANs program during the summer leading into her junior year of high school. She continued working as a teen facilitator throughout her junior and senior year.

 

“I love working with kids,” Fontaine says. “Our mission was to make students aware of what they were eating, and encourage them to get moving and become more physically fit. The program also made me more conscious of how I was eating. I felt that as a role model, I had to lead by example.”

 

“Just to hear a child say, ‘I ate an apple today or I played outside,’ made me realize that my job meant something. It gave me a sense of fulfillment that I was doing something to benefit someone else.”

 

Fontaine grew up in the New Haven area, and was surprised to discover that 4-H programs existed in urban areas. As a teen facilitator with the 4-H FANs program, Fontaine attended the 4-H conference in Washington, D.C., a trip that Fontaine says gave her an opportunity to travel from home, and experience a completely different environment.

 

Currently, Fontaine is a student at UConn majoring in political science. She hopes one day to become an attorney. “I know I have a long way to go, but in due time, I will get there.”

Barnum School 4-H Garden

Since 1968, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) has been funded by he United States Department of Agriculture and is an integral part of the UConn Extension. Currently, it is one of the federal government’s longest running educational outreach programs targeted to low-income families. Specially trained EFNEP Nutrition Assistants, who know their communities well, work with program families in their homes or in small community groups to offer knowledge and skills to help people control and manage their food and nutrition practices for better health and quality of life. In combination with food assistance programs such and WIC or the USDA Food Stamp Program, EFNEP can make a difference in improving food choices and health.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Food Stamp Act of 1977, as amended, provides for the operation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the State of Connecticut. The State of Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) has been designated by the USDA to administer the State’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education(SNAP-Ed) activities and DSS in turn has contracted with UConn and the CT Department of Public Health to design and implement SNAP-Ed projects. Under this contract, the USDA has authorized the University of Connecticut’s Department of Allied Health Sciences to administer, design, develop implement and evaluate a SNAP-Ed plan based on the following objectives.

Watch the video on the Barnum School 4-H Garden here.

The Health Toll of Immigration

By SABRINA TAVERNISE —  The New York Times —  May 18, 2013
IMMIG-articleLarge
J. Michael Short for The New York Times
A growing body of mortality research on immigrants has shown that the longer they live in this country, the worse their rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. And while their American-born children may have more money, they tend to live shorter lives than the parents.

The pattern goes against any notion that moving to America improves every aspect of life. It also demonstrates that at least in terms of health, worries about assimilation for the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants are mistaken. In fact, it is happening all too quickly.

“There’s something about life in the United States that is not conducive to good health across generations,” said Robert A. Hummer, a social demographer at the University of Texas at Austin.

For Hispanics, now the nation’s largest immigrant group, the foreign-born live about three years longer than their American-born counterparts, several studies have found.

Why does life in the United States – despite its sophisticated health care system and high per capita wages – lead to worse health? New research is showing that the immigrant advantage wears off with the adoption of American behaviors – smoking, drinking, high-calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles.

Here in Brownsville, a worn border city studded with fast-food restaurants, immigrants say that happens slowly, almost imperceptibly. In America, foods like ham and bread that are not supposed to be sweet are. And children lose their taste for traditional Mexican foods like cactus and beans.

For the recently arrived, the quantity and accessibility of food speaks to the boundless promise of the United States. Esther Angeles remembers being amazed at the size of hamburgers – as big as dinner plates – when she first came to the United States from Mexico 15 years ago.

“I thought, this is really a country of opportunity,” she said. “Look at the size of the food!”

Fast-food fare not only tasted good, but was also a sign of success, a family treat that new earnings put in reach.

“The crispiness was delicious,” said Juan Muniz, 62, recalling his first visit to Church’s Chicken with his family in the late 1970s. “I was proud and excited to eat out. I’d tell them: ‘Let’s go eat. We can afford it now.’ ”

For others, supersize deals appealed.

“You work so hard, you want to use your money in a smart way,” said Aris Ramirez, a community health worker in Brownsville, explaining the thinking. “So when they hear ‘twice the fries for an extra 49 cents,’ people think, ‘That’s economical.’ “

Growing Nutrient-Dense Vegetables

Working to Curb Malnutrition From the Ground Up
Field Day 2011

Empty calories. Depleted soil. Overproduction. By now, most Americans have heard reports that even as we’re eating more, we’re taking in fewer nutrients. Today’s ubiquitous fast foods and processed meals play a large part in the changing quality of our diets. But research also suggests that the mineral content of plant-based foods—fruits, vegetables, and grains—has been steadily diminishing since the 1950s.

What’s behind the decline? Some say commercial farming methods that target higher yields are stripping the soil of minerals, leaving less for new plants to absorb. Other theories point to modern hybrid species that have been developed for higher yields, easier handling, better appearance, and marketability at the expense of nutritional content.

With deficiencies in essential minerals linked to osteoporosis, anemia, higher infection rates, and a host of other ills, figuring out how to increase the nutrient density of crops is on the minds of farmers, consumers, scientists, and public health departments alike. That’s where Stockbridge School of Agriculture Professor Allen Barker comes in.

Barker and his team set out to study the nutrient content of a selection of fruits and vegetables to see how new cultivars compare to old-fashioned strains and how both are affected by various fertilizers. In the first two years of the project, they’ve grown and harvested 24 varieties of tomato, 35 types of cabbage, and 18 different lettuces in soil enriched with either chemical fertilizer, organic fertilizer, or compost. The results offer more than a few surprises.

“For lettuce, cabbage, and tomato, essentially no differences occur in nutrient accumulation between modern hybrids and heritage varieties,” reports Barker. “On average, they have essentially the same composition.” Nor did the team note a large disparagement in average nutrient content between phenotypes – that is, between red cabbages and green cabbages, or between romaine lettuce and iceberg lettuce.

However, there proved to be an enormous difference among specific varieties within those phenotypes. According to Barker, “Varieties of cabbage, lettuce, and tomato differed widely, with some varieties having twice the nutrient content of others in all species.” In other words, he explains, “We can’t say that romaine is better for you than iceberg, or that red cabbage is better for you than green cabbage, but we can say which varieties of romaine or red cabbage are best.”

This is good news for farmers, who are eager to hear Barker’s recommendations so they can plant and market healthier foods. It’s good for breeders, who are interested in using the information to develop higher-nutrient plants through genetic improvement. And of course, it’s good for the consumers who take those fruits and vegetables home. In fact, one of the project’s main goals is to build public awareness of the nutrient content in different types of produce, thus opening new marketing opportunities for farmers while helping to combat malnutrition.

But choosing the most nutritious tomato is only part of the picture. Much of the project’s value lies in helping farmers determine not just what to plant, but how.

“Soil fertility problems associated with nutrient depletion by crop production are worldwide,” says Barker. Since the 1960s, he explains, fruit, vegetable, and grain yields have increased markedly, resulting in a dilution of the minerals available in the soil and, it follows, in the crops themselves. “There’s concern that we’re mining the soil, taking out more nutrients than we put back in,” he explains. “For nutrient-sufficient foods to be sustainable, elemental depletion of soils must be compensated for by return of nutrients through fertilization.” That’s been hindered, says Barker, by the cost of fertilizers and by recent criticisms of over-fertilization.

To find the most effective way to replenish the soil, Barker and his team used three regimes to grow their specimens: organic fertilizer, conventional chemical fertilizer, and compost. Each of the three media was fundamentally equal in nutrient content, that is to say, richly fertilized. “We fed them well,” says Barker.

In analyzing the harvest, Barker found that the fruits and vegetables grown using quick-releasing chemical fertilizer were equally nutrient-dense to those grown with slower-acting organic fertilizer. Trailing behind was compost, which is effective in the long term, says Barker, but may require several years to build up the soil. The experiment suggests that what’s critical in growing mineral-rich produce is not the type of fertilizer used, but rather the quality and quantity of nutrients provided.

Barker hopes to take these results further in several directions. One is to discover whether the mineral content of nutrient-dense varieties can be boosted even more with vigorous fertilization. He’d like to see if a plant’s nutrient components can be enhanced in soil as they have been when grow hydroponically. And he’s eager to correlate his results with those of scientists who are researching other plant components, such as vitamin content.

“There are quite a few people looking at other constituents, but we’re kind of unique,” says Barker. “I don’t know of anyone who’s studying the specific factor that we are with as much intensity.”