Tag Archives: healthy eating

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How FNP Helps Feed VA

In honor of Feed VA Day of Action, we’re highlighting Virginia Family Nutrition Program’s educators who take action every day as they empower Virginians to make good food choices, work to eliminate food deserts and strive to end hunger in our state.

Our Program Assistants, SNAP-Ed Agents and volunteers work with individuals and families by teaching them grocery shopping strategies, meal planning tips, cooking skills, food safety skills, and tips for maintaining active lifestyles. These are the folks who work in their communities, sharing their knowledge and giving people tools to make healthy choices for their families.

Are you interested in helping us in our mission? We are always looking for volunteers to work with our educators throughout Virginia. Take action to end hunger in your community. Contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office to learn about volunteer opportunities.


Building a Healthier Sandwich

Sandwiches are a quick and easy meal for busy families. You can customize them to your taste preferences. They’re portable, making them a favorite item in packed lunches for both kids and adults. In fact, on any given day about half of Americans eat sandwiches (which includes burgers, hot dogs, and breakfast biscuits). Unfortunately, the researchers found that people who ate sandwiches also ate more calories overall and sandwiches were a large source of saturated fat, sodium, processed/cured meats, and refined grains. Continue reading

Winter Produce Recipe Round-up 2016

It may not feel like it with the unusually warm weather, but today is the official first day of winter. My favorite part is that starting tomorrow, the days will begin to get longer again. Yay!

Winter is not typically thought of as a prime time for seasonal produce. However, many local farmers are able to offer fruits and veggies that grow in cooler weather or store well. Also, tropical fruits, like citrus fruits, pomegranates, or pineapples, are in season in winter.

Seasonal Winter Fruits and Vegetable Recipes

Winter Produce Recipes

If we finally get some real winter weather, soup is always a great warming comfort food to enjoy.

Winter Soup Recipes

And as a holiday treat, I threw in a few seasonally flavored dessert options, too!

Winter Dessert Recipes

What are some of your family’s favorite winter recipes? Share in the comments!

How to Cut Down on Added Sugars at Home

Lately we’ve talking a lot about added sugars and heart health. Here are some simple swaps to help you cut down on added sugars at home:

Eat Smart

  • Choose low-calorie, sugar-free drinks like water, calorie-free drink mixes, or diet drinks. If you like fizz, try adding slices of your favorite fruit or a splash of fruit juice to seltzer water.
  • When drinking juice, choose 100% fruit juice instead of fruit-flavored drinks that are mostly just added sugar. Or eat a piece of whole fruit instead of drinking juice for added fiber and less sugar!
  • Buy fresh or frozen fruit or canned fruits in water or 100% juice. Try to avoid canned fruit in syrup. Eat a piece of fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Use fruit in place of sugar to sweeten your cereal or oatmeal.
  • Choose reduced-sugar syrups, jams, and jellies. Other condiments like ketchup and salad dressings have sugar, too. Use these in moderation.
  • Cut down on the amount of sugar you add to your food at home such as in your oatmeal, cereal, coffee, and tea. Try cutting the amount you normally use in half or try using a sugar substitute.
All the places sugar creeps into your diet really adds up.

All the places sugar creeps into your diet really adds up.

Cook Smart

  • If you like to bake, try cutting down on the amount of sugar the recipe calls for. Use unsweetened applesauce in its place. One cup of sugar is equal to one cup of unsweetened applesauce. Try out this recipe for Apple Raisin Bran Muffins. You can also try using a artificial sweetener baking blend to cut the amount of sugar in half.
  • Add flavor to your baked goods without adding extra sugar by using spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. You can also add vanilla or almond extract to boost the flavor.

Cutting down on added sugar will not only save you calories, but it may also help you choose a healthier diet overall, with more fruits and whole grains and less processed foods. Do you already limit added sugars at home? Share your tips or changes your family has made with us!

Prevent Diabetes by Eating Smart, Moving More and Slimming Down

I just ran across a new study today (see a video about the results here) about preventing diabetes. It found that eating whole fruit, in particular blueberries, grapes and apples, at least twice a week reduced the risk of developing diabetes. On the flipside, drinking fruit juice once a day or more increased the risk of developing diabetes. This is just one more in a line of research studies that show how our lifestyles can help or hurt our likelihood of developing diabetes.

Eating Smart to Prevent Diabetes

We know that what we eat affects our health and diabetes prevention is no different. A healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein is important to reduce your risk of diabetes. MyPlate is a great tool to help you Eat Smart.

Moving More to Prevent Diabetes

Being physically active helps your body process blood sugar efficiently, which helps prevent diabetes. After all, diabetes occurs when you cannot control your blood sugar normally, causing it to rise into the unhealthy range. A famous diabetes prevention study found that people who met the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity each week greatly reduced their risk of developing diabetes. (Read our advice for adding Strength Training to your physical activity routine)

Slim Down to Prevent Diabetes

This same famous study also looked at weight loss to prevent diabetes, because most people who get Type 2 diabetes are overweight. Losing just 7% of your body weight (14 pounds if you start out weighing 200 pounds) is effective at preventing diabetes.

Steps to prevent diabetes from the National Diabetes Education Program (see full brochure here: http://ndep.nih.gov/media/NDEP76_GetReal_4c_508.pdf)

Steps to prevent diabetes from the National Diabetes Education Program (see full brochure here)

If diabetes runs in your family, you shouldn’t feel hopeless against getting it. Make an effort to live a healthy lifestyle because eating smart, moving more and slimming down can help prevent diabetes. And the Virginia Family Nutrition Program is here to help- contact us at vafnp@vt.edu to find Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down programs in your area.