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Posts tagged: Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Teach Healthier Meals in a SNAP!

Zucchini Coleslaw is a delicious alternative to sweet coleslaws. Adding salsa instead of sugar to the coleslaw sauce gives each serving more nutrients and more flavor. Photo credit: Jennifer M. Anderson.

Zucchini Coleslaw is a delicious alternative to sweet coleslaws. Adding salsa instead of sugar to the coleslaw sauce gives each serving more nutrients and more flavor. Photo credit: Jennifer M. Anderson.

This is the fourth installment of the What’s Cooking? Blog Series. In honor of the Let’s Move 5th Anniversary, and the commitment USDA shares with Let’s Move to promote healthy eating and access to healthy foods, this month-long series will highlight the various features of the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl recipe website.

Attention nutrition educators helping Americans make healthy and budget-friendly choices—this edition of the What’s Cooking? Blog Series is for you!  If you haven’t already heard, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipes have a new home on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl web site. This site combines recipes designed for SNAP-Ed, child nutrition programs, the food distribution program, and ChooseMyPlate.gov.  Visit What’s Cooking?  USDA Mixing Bowl, and you will see that there are hundreds of healthy recipes for educators to browse and use in nutrition education programming. For example, how do Zucchini Coleslaw, Mozzarella Chicken with Garlic Spinach, A Simple Mexican Salad, or Ginger Orange Muffins sound?

Many of the recipes found in What’s Cooking?  USDA Mixing Bowl were created for educating recipients of SNAP benefits. The goal of the education component of SNAP, commonly called SNAP-Ed, is to improve the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will make healthy choices, within a limited budget, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate.  The SNAP recipes were developed by SNAP-Ed educators to do just that! Read more »

Avocados: Helping Draw up the Perfect Recipe for the Big Game

Avocado infographic.

The avocado is quickly becoming a Super Bowl fan favorite. In 2014, Americans consumed more than 104 million pounds of avocados during the game. Estimates indicate that more than 120 million pounds will be consumed during the week leading up to the game. Infographic courtesy of Hass Avocado Board. Click to enlarge.

The Super Bowl is next Sunday and people are busy making plans for the big game. For many, the most valuable player will be the avocado, which is quickly becoming a fan favorite.

In fact, it’s estimated that Americans will consume 120 million pounds or 240 million fresh avocados during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. This is a 20 percent increase from last year. It is also estimated that the amount of avocados consumed during the big game will be enough to fill an entire football field from end zone to end zone over 46 feet high. Read more »

Culinary Boot Camps: Designed to Foster a Healthier Next Generation

USDA Team Nutrition grants support initiatives designed to improve children’s lifelong eating habits.

USDA Team Nutrition grants support initiatives designed to improve children’s lifelong eating habits.

The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank them for sharing their stories! To learn more about FNS nutrition assistance efforts, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/usdanutrition

By Stewart Eidel, School and Community Nutrition Programs, Maryland State Department of Education

USDA Team Nutrition Grants support initiatives designed to improve children’s lifelong eating habits. Thanks to this funding, and by incorporating the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and with recipes from the Food and Nutrition Service Team Nutrition website, Maryland’s State Department of Education School and Community Nutrition Programs, where I work, developed new training for our school food service professionals called “Culinary Boot Camps.” Read more »

North Carolina Campus Kicks off the School Year with a Focus on Healthy Eating

UNCW Peer Educator and MyPlate On Campus Ambassador, Jessica Jones, teaches a fellow Seahawk about healthy eating using food models and the MyPlate icon.

UNCW Peer Educator and MyPlate On Campus Ambassador, Jessica Jones, teaches a fellow Seahawk about healthy eating using food models and the MyPlate icon.

As a registered dietitian, I’m a big proponent of nutrition education for kids and adults alike. MyPlate On Campus, USDA’s initiative that promotes healthy eating on college campuses through peer-to-peer education, is a unique effort to reach young adults during a key life stage. The program now boasts over 2,300 MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors who inspire and promote healthy food habits at universities and colleges nationwide. Read below about how one North Carolina campus brings MyPlate to life for their students:

Guest post by Courtney Simmons, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN, Campus Dietitian, and Jessica Jones, Peer Educator, Health Promotion, University of North Carolina Wilmington

College – a time of transition, not only in an academic sense, but also in a personal “taking charge of your own health” sense. Most first year students are thinking about all the choices they get to make without guardian oversight, including their food choices! They can now choose what and when to eat and drink for themselves. Mom and Dad are no longer telling them to “stop with the junk food,” “clean the plate,” or “eat their veggies”. Although this seems like the ultimate dream come true and the bells of freedom are ringing, students without the knowledge and skills to make healthy food choices may not be getting all the nutrients their bodies need to stay healthy! Read more »

The Healthy Eating Index: How does America Score?

The Healthy Eating Index logo.

The Healthy Eating Index logo.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Have you ever heard of the Healthy Eating Index? The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) measures the quality of Americans’ food choices. At USDA we use the HEI to see how closely Americans are following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. The HEI assigns scores to diets on a scale in which the maximum score of 100 indicates that the diet meets all Dietary Guidelines recommendations. The HEI shows us that the diets of most Americans could use some improvement. For example, HEI scores for 2007-08 averaged about 53.5 points out of 100 points, and these scores have not changed substantially since 2001-02. Using the HEI we can also compare how food choices and overall diet quality differ among males and females and in certain age groups, such as HEI scores for children and adolescents.

The HEI includes 12 components, each of which measures one aspect of dietary quality. These components represent all of the key Dietary Guidelines food choice recommendations. Nine of the components focus on the types of foods that Americans should eat more of, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains. Three components focus on foods or nutrients that are over consumed and Americans should eat less of, including refined grains, sodium, and calories from solid fats and added sugars (empty calories). Read more »

MyPlate Has a Game Plan for Healthy Eating on a Budget

Everyone wants to save money at the grocery store, especially those on a tight budget. The new Healthy Eating on a Budget section of ChooseMyPlate.gov empowers cost-conscious consumers to make healthy choices with insightful information about meal planning, smart shopping ideas, and creating healthy meals with simple ingredients.  Web-based trends indicate that consumers continue to look for information about how to make better eating decisions with limited resources. Healthy Eating on a Budget offers a step-by-step game plan to help families save money and make nutritious meals at home.

Recent scores from the USDA Healthy Eating Index indicate that Americans can struggle to meet recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  Most of us need to increase our intake of whole fruit, dark-green and orange vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy.  Cost is often considered a barrier to eating healthier and the new resource will help consumers overcome this perception. Read more »