Learn benefits of eating together

Family meals help provide regular, consistent opportunities to create shared experiences that are meaningful and offer a sense of belonging to all. Research has shown that regular and meaningful family meals offer a large variety of benefits to children and parents.

Family meals provide a sense of family unity and identity. Family meals become a vehicle for carrying on valued family traditions, such as having a particularly favorite dish on someone’s birthday or going to a favorite place to eat together on special occasions.

Family meals make a positive impact on young children’s language acquisition and literacy development. Family meals furnish a daily opportunity for a parent or sibling to speak to an infant or toddler, and help them learn words, understand language and build a conversation.

Family meals are associated with improved dietary intake among family members. For example, several large studies have shown that regular family meals are strongly associated with increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains and other healthy food choices while also linked with lesser consumption of fried or fatty foods, soft drinks or other less healthy food choices.

Click the link under Source to learn more about strengthening family bonds and improving your family’s wellness here:: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/eatsmart/eat-smart.-play-hard.-magazines-1/2009-eat-smart-play-hard-magazine/test-item

Enjoy!

Neha 

Neha is a Special Projects Assistant for NC EFNEP.



 

Picnic Safety

Summer has officially arrived! Like many of you, I like spending time outdoors especially having cookouts, picnics and other activities centered around food. Good food, fun, and family are my summer favorites. But before planning any outdoor food activity, here are a few simple tips to consider to ensure that unwanted bacteria won’t have a place at the table.

Wash Hands Often Bring moist towelettes or soap and water to clean your hands and surfaces often. Also, make sure your cooler is clean.

Keep Raw Meats, Poultry, Seafood and Eggs and Ready-to- Eat Foods Separate
Bring extra plates — one for handling raw foods and another for cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination.
Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
Don’t reuse marinade used on raw meat or poultry unless boiled.
Properly packing a cooler can help reduce cross-contamination that might lead to food poisoning.

Cook to Proper Temperatures
Cook your favorite foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer; hamburger to at least 160°F and chicken breasts to 165°F.
Never partially grill meat or poultry to finish cooking later.

Refrigerate Promptly below 40°F
Pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs to keep the temperature below 40°F.
Transport the cooler in the back seat of your air-conditioned car instead of in your hot trunk.
Remove from the cooler only the amount of raw meat that will fit on the grill.
Defrost meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator before taking them to the grill.
Don’t leave food outside in hot weather (90°F or above) for more than one hour.

Enjoy!

Stephanie

Stephanie is an Extension Associate for NC EFNEP.

Source: http://www.eatright.org/resource/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/outdoor-dining/keep-your-picnic-safe

 

Shop the local market for fresh produce

Farmers Markets are packed with fresh summer fruits and vegetables.  Watermelons, cantaloupes, fresh corn, cucumbers, tomatoes and squash are just a few of the food items found at many local markets. While, I don’t frequent Farmers Markets often (mainly due to the location from my home and because my local market is not open year-round), I like to go at this time of the year. There are so many varieties of delicious, freshly grown foods (especially fruits and vegetables) and homemade goodies such as jams/jellies, pickles. There are also baked items, which are typically local favorites made by hometown residents. Visiting the market also allows for interaction with farmers, neighbors and friends.

During a recent purchase, a friend noticed that the strawberries he bought from the local grocery store were grown by a local farmer from the county. He was so excited to know that his purchase is helping to support the local farmer in our community.

While, I really like the offerings of a Farmer’s Market, there are some valid reasons to purchase foods there. Firstly, they’re local and local foods are usually fresher and more nutritious. Since a shorter distance is traveled to where the food is sold, most local fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are fresher. Some are harvested within 24 hours of being purchased! This freshness is directly related to its nutritional value, as nutritional quality degrades rapidly after harvest.

At a basic level, when you buy locally, more money stays in the community. Money that stays in the community circulates and benefits all sectors of the local economy and therefore increases the quality of life we enjoy in our communities.

Buying from local farmers helps to preserve farmland and rural culture. Whether it is directly at a farmers market or at the local foods section of a grocery store, buying a local farmer’s product helps keep that farmer farming and in business.

Food produced and marketed locally uses much less energy for transportation and storage. Reducing the energy used means less air and water pollution, which is another way we can help sustain our resources for future generations.

When food is marketed locally, farmers aren’t limited to growing varieties that are bred for long distance shipping and long shelf lives. Local foods are often heirloom varieties that have been passed down through generations, which are usually especially delicious!

Finally, since local foods are not stored for long periods of time or transported long distances, fewer post-harvest treatments are needed. Wax coatings to prevent water loss and fungicides to prevent decay are used to preserve fruits and vegetables that travel long distances.

Local foods are really a win-win and something we can all support.

I encourage you to be a patron at your local Farmer’s Market. If you are unaware of the Farmer’s Markets in your area, here is a helpful resource. The North Carolina Farm Fresh is a directory of pick-your-own farms, roadside farm markets, and farmers markets throughout North Carolina. It is designed to help you find the freshest locally grown fruits, vegetables, plants and other items. Click the following link to find a market in your area: http://www.ncfarmfresh.com/index.asp

Stephanie

Stephanie is the EFNEP Extension Associate for counties in the Southeast Unit.

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.

ENJOY!!
Stephanie

Sources: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyCooking/Fresh-Frozen-or-Canned-Fruits-and-Vegetables-All-Can-Be-Healthy-Choices_UCM_459350_Article.jsp#.Vp0xBVMrJmA
http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/canned-fruits-and-vegetables-are-good-for-you

 

 

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: http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/

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.

ENJOY!!
Neha