Build an Easy Breakfast

Mornings can be a hectic time to get everyone fed and off to the places we have to be often early in the morning. Breakfast may not always be a top priority. However, breakfast is a very important part of the day for you and everyone in your family. For some ideas, Super Healthy Kids has a list of recipes to help make your mornings a little easier:

Here are some of the highlights:

However you choose to make breakfast a part of your family’s day, be sure keep it simple!


Are canned fruits and vegetables healthy?


My husband, who grew up in rural North Carolina spent many of his summers with his grandfather. He saw acres of farmland with fresh vegetables including cabbages, collards, green beans, okra, field peas, squash, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, Muscadine grapes, peaches, etc. He and his grandfather would get up early in the mornings to gather the crops. Some would be used for daily meals while others were canned and frozen by his grandmother, sold at the farmer’s market, and given to needy families. They would do this every day until it was time to replant for the next season.

While many of us don’t have access to a large family garden for fresh fruits and vegetables, there are still many available healthy canned options.

Researchers at Michigan State University found that canned fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as frozen or fresh. For canned tomatoes in particular, canning improves the content of B vitamins, vitamin E and carotenoids compared to fresh. Fiber in beans becomes more soluble through the canning process,  and thus more useful to the human body. Additionally, a nationally represented survey of American adults found that adults and children who frequently eat canned foods (6 or more items over 2 weeks) have healthier eating habits compared to those who eat 1-2 canned food items in the same time period.  

Eat the fruits and vegetables you prefer whether canned, fresh, frozen or dried. Canned foods simply make healthy eating easy. Canned fruits and veggies are convenient to have in your pantry for times you can’t get to the store; they can even be kept at work (with a can opener) for a quick lunch or an afternoon snack. Since they don’t expire quickly, you won’t waste money when buying canned veggies – which sometimes happens with fresh produce that goes bad. Here are a few tips when buying canned fruit and vegetables:

Watch for sodium:
Sodium is usually added to canned foods to preserve them. Look for low-sodium, reduced-sodium or no-salt-added labeled foods. Compare the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label and choose the product with the lowest amount. Drain and rinse canned veggies to reduce sodium even more.

Watch for added sugar: Look for fruit that’s canned in water, its own juice, or light syrup (drain and rinse).

Delicious uses:

  • Add drained cans of corn, tomatoes and pinto beans or any other vegetable to low-sodium chicken broth for a super-fast and filling vegetable soup.
  • Use a blender, food processor or a fork to smash drained and rinsed garbanzo beans, northern beans, or any beans into a bean dip for baby carrots; add a little lemon juice and garlic powder for some zip.
  • Serve canned fruit as a dessert topped with low-fat, no sugar-added yogurt; or top whole grain cereal with canned fruit.

You can feel confident that canned fruits and vegetables are nutritious, safe and full of flavor. Fill up your pantry with your favorite canned produce to help you prepare nutritious, quick everyday meals for your family more often while saving time and money.





Eating Together!

How many of you aim to have at least few meals of the week together as a family?

These days schedules of both parents and children leave almost no time for regular dinners together at the table.  Between soccer practices, dance rehearsals, playdates, and other scheduling conflicts, family mealtime can seem like a thing of the past.

Did you know that research shows that having a meal together as a family at least four times a week has positive effects on child development? Family dinners have been linked to a lower risk of obesity, substance abuse, eating disorders, and an increased chance of graduating from high school. Source:

If you are still looking for some inspiration, here are some more benefits of eating a meal together as a family.

  • Dinner table provides an opportunity for conversation and to reconnect as a family. By engaging your children in conversation, you teach them how to listen and give them with a chance to express their opinions.
  • Family mealtime is the perfect opportunity to display appropriate table manners, meal etiquette, and social skills. Be a good role model and lead by example.
  • Meals prepared and eaten at home are usually more nutritious and healthy. They contain more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products along with additional nutrients such as fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and folate.
  • The sense of security and togetherness provided by family meals helps nurture children into healthy, well-rounded adults. Children who eat dinner with their family are more likely to understand, acknowledge, and follow the boundaries and expectations set by their parents.
  • The home cooked meal cost 2-4 times less than the meals purchased outside. You save your time and money by not make going out to eat at a restaurant and making short trips to the grocery store.
  • Family mealtime is a great place to introduce new food to the kids. It greatly helps the picky eater. Try to make the mealtime a cool, calm and positive experience for the children. Avoid- criticism and over correction.



Oats Make a Meal: How do you eat yours?


Did you know Saturday October 29th is National Oatmeal Day?

Why do we love Oatmeal? Oatmeal contains fiber, which stays in the stomach longer and helps us feel fuller, longer. This can help kids easily get through the school morning until lunchtime, help prevent overeating and help maintain a healthy weight.

Once cup of oatmeal contains only 150 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein. In addition to the fiber and protein, oatmeal is rich in thiamin, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and iron.

There are three types of oatmeal, steel-cut oats (whole oat grain), rolled oats (also called old fashioned oats), and instant oats (most processed and frequently loaded with sweeteners). As good rule of thumb is to choose the less processed because they will have more fiber and health benefits.

Oatmeal should be a pantry staple because it’s so versatile. Oatmeal can be prepared minimalistic with just milk and honey or you can jazz it up with berries and nuts. Sprinkle some dried oatmeal to your yogurt for extra texture and fullness. Out of breadcrumbs; oatmeal can be used to crust baked chicken for dinner. Check out more ways to prepare oatmeal:

To learn more about oatmeal’s history, health benefits, fiber, and ways to mix up the oatmeal bowl click here:


Jasmine is an EFNEP intern.

Turkey dinner, turkey leftovers: now what?

turkey-532962_1280My family loves turkey leftovers as much as they love the freshly baked turkey. I look forward to preparing different dishes with the leftovers. My husband’s job is to pull the meat off the bone, put it in plastic bags, and refrigerate it.

Once this is done, we sit down and ask our family what dishes they would like us to prepare with the turkey. One of the favorites that is always asked for is a turkey and noodle casserole. I even add the leftover vegetables for more flavor, as I don’t want them to go to waste either.

Another favorite is making turkey soup. Again you can add noodles and/or vegetables, and gravy. My favorite is turkey salad, made just like you would make chicken salad. We make sandwiches using the leftover cranberries and rolls.  Just be mindful of food safety, when handling, deboning, storing and reheating your leftover turkey.

For more information, check here:


Easy Parfait

For an easy breakfast parfait on the go, pack an insulated coffee cup or thermos with low fat yogurt, granola and grapes (or any other fruit you like).

Make ahead tip: pack your yogurt and fruit cup the night before and store in the fridge. Before eating (or running out the door!), top with granola or other whole grain cereal.

Money saving tip: buy large containers of low fat yogurt instead of individual cups.