Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Posts tagged: Holidays

U.S. Forest Service Harvests 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in Minnesota

About 500 people attended the tree-harvesting ceremony to watch the 88-foot, 13,000-pound Minnesota spruce chosen as the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The Chippewa National Forest is donating the tree, often referred to as the People’s Tree. The tree-lighting ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 2. (U.S. Forest Service)

About 500 people attended the tree-harvesting ceremony to watch the 88-foot, 13,000-pound Minnesota spruce chosen as the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The Chippewa National Forest is donating the tree, often referred to as the People’s Tree. The tree-lighting ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 2. (U.S. Forest Service)

On a cold afternoon in late October, about 500 people, including local area third graders who had made ornaments for it, gathered to witness the cutting of the 88-foot, 13,000-pound 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on the Chippewa National Forest in north central Minnesota.

To help stay warm and nourished, attendees were offered hot chocolate or coffee, a wild rice dish, fruit, sandwich wraps and cookies, all courtesy of the Leech Land Band of Ojibwe. The official festivities began with Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Spiritual Advisor Larry Aitken blessing the Tree, distinguished guests sharing their congratulations, and poignant drumming performances by two groups of tribal youth; one group was accompanied by young tribal dancers in full regalia. Read more »

What’s On Your Plate This Fourth of July?

Go red, white and blue, all the way to dessert!

Go red, white and blue, all the way to dessert!

Happy Birthday America! It’s the Fourth of July and time to celebrate American life. What do you have planned? A family reunion at the beach? A backyard barbeque with family and friends? A picnic in the park? Or a few friends on your patio? Here are some quick and easy tips to make your family’s Fourth of July meals and snacks healthy and delicious!

Get creative and let MyPlate be your guide. Read more »

Happy Valentine’s Day from MyPlate!

MyPlate Tips for Valentine’s Day!

MyPlate Tips for Valentine’s Day!

This Valentine’s Day, give something for the heart. Sharing a heart healthy gift is a great way to let the people in your life know you care.  Instead of offering an over-sized piece of cake or a box of sweets, give something that takes care of the heart.

For Your Spouse or Partner:  Make a healthy meal together.  Cooking a meal can help you to control portion sizes and the ingredients in your food. Find a healthy recipe to make at home or attend a cooking class at your local mall or community college.  For healthy recipe ideas, visit the FNCS Recipe Box. Read more »

Spice It Up in the New Year – MyPlate Holiday Makeover Week 8

Dave’s Herb-Stuffed Mushrooms

Dave’s Herb-Stuffed Mushrooms

The MyPlate Team offers the final “Makeover Monday” recipe this week on the USDA blog and the MyPlate Facebook page.

I love mushrooms and could probably eat them every day. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, textures, and flavors and can be worked into every meal. On their own, mushrooms are pretty healthful – very low in calories, free of cholesterol and (almost) free of fat. They are also naturally low in sodium, high in potassium, and are generally high in vitamins and minerals.

Stuffing mushrooms just makes something wonderful ever better!  But what you stuff in these tasty little vegetables can make or break the dish. Typically, mushrooms are stuffed with foods containing saturated fats and sodium. So, if you’re trying to watch one or both of these in the New Year, consider various herbs and spices! Read more »

Cheers to Good Health with MyPlate – MyPlate Holiday Makeover Week 7

Liz’s Sparkling New Year’s Cider

Liz’s Sparkling New Year’s Cider

The MyPlate Team continues to share “Makeover Monday” recipes each week on the USDA blog and the MyPlate Facebook page through January 6th.

With two little ones in the house, I’m always looking for ways that I can introduce them to new flavors and textures of foods and beverages. This Sparkling New Year’s Cider recipe does just that! The 100 % apple juice is familiar and adds a touch of sweetness, while the cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon introduce them to new spices. The bubbles from the sparkling water also provide a fun new feeling for their mouths. Of course, adults can enjoy this beverage too!

My recipe includes spices to add a special holiday flavor.  If you aren’t familiar with star anise or cloves, you can often find them in the baking or spice section of your local grocery store. Some stores sell them individually in the bulk shopping aisle, so you only have to pay for what you need. You might also be able to find these ingredients at a discount store or specialty market. Read more »

A Home for the Holidays

Robert Tapia, a single father of two, is pictured outside the Reedley, Calif. home he proudly helped build with ten other families through USDA's Mutual Self-Help Housing Loan program in partnership with Self-Help Enterprises, which celebrated the completion of its 6,000th home last week. (USDA photo)

Robert Tapia, a single father of two, is pictured outside the Reedley, Calif. home he proudly helped build with ten other families through USDA's Mutual Self-Help Housing Loan program in partnership with Self-Help Enterprises, which celebrated the completion of its 6,000th home last week. (USDA photo)

The holidays will be extra special this year for 11 families in Reedley, Calif., who received the keys to their homes during a celebration ceremony December 19. The group spent nearly 10 months building each other’s homes through USDA’s Mutual Self-Help Housing Loan program.

The rules of the program are simple, though not necessarily easy. Ten- to 12 families are grouped together to pool their efforts. Each family is required to put in a minimum of 40 hours a week working on all the homes and no one moves in until every home is completed. Together, families pour foundations, frame homes, install electrical wiring, hang doors and windows and even lay tile and paint. Their labor – “sweat equity” – acts as a down payment for the home, and USDA Rural Development provides the families with mortgages through the Single Family Housing Direct Loan Program. Read more »