Category: Health

Meet Amy, The Pear Princess

Meet Amy, the Pear Princess

Santa Barbara’s youngest foodies “FLIP” for good nutrition in Foodbank’s
Food Literacy in Preschool Program at Storyteller Children’s Center

AmyFour-year-old Amy is a self proclaimed fan of pears. She loves learning about fruits and vegetables, and especially enjoys participating in fun activities like making recipes with her family using fresh produce from Foodbank’s Food Literacy in Preschool (FLIP) program. FLIP serves a dual purpose: delivering short-term food assistance and providing nutrition education.

Amy is one of the 24 preschoolers (plus 20 toddlers) who attend Storyteller Children’s Center, a childcare center for homeless and at-risk children from 18 months to 5 years of age.

Every month, she looks forward to Foodbank’s FLIP program held at Storyteller.

“I liked making apple juice and apple spirals last time and today’s pear smoothie is yummy,” said Amy.

On a recent Thursday, as crisp fall fruits come into season, the kids at Storyteller received a hands-on lesson in crafting a healthy pear snack.

Gathered around a munchkin-sized table, the kids eagerly descended on the bounty of fresh, local Comice pears – sourced and delivered by Foodbank.

The boisterous class grew quiet in concentration as Amy and her classmates, with help from Storyteller teacher Maria Lopez and Foodbank’s Community Nutrition Program Coordinator Erin reading to kids[3]Erin Hansen, began earnestly slicing the fruit using kid-friendly tools. The hubbub swelled again as the dozen Lilliputian chefs continued mixing and blending the ingredients – pears, bananas, orange juice, vanilla yogurt and ice cubes – to complete today’s recipe, joyfully dubbed “Pear-adise Smoothies.”

“It’s so important for us to empower kids to make nutritious choices and learn about the diversity of nutritious foods from a young age,” said Erin Hansen. “Incorporating healthy foods into their lives early, increases their ability to become healthy adults.”

This is one of the few times during the month Amy gets this type of exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables. Amy is one of nearly 50,000 local children who are provided with nutritious food and education through Foodbank direct programs or Foodbank’s 330+ nonprofit partners like Storyteller. Many families in Amy’s situation wish they could eat more fruits and vegetables, but might not initially buy them on their own because of the expense. And 71% of families served by the Foodbank must make heartbreaking choices of buying food or paying for housing, utilities, transportation, clothing and other basic necessities.

After each month’s FLIP lesson the children get to take home a bag of the featured produce to their families. FLIP is the first step in Foodbank’s “Feed the Future” continuum of programs, and helps drive one of the Foodbank’s key strategies: to reach families in our communities through their children. Kids bring their new-found knowledge – and in the case of FLIP, the fresh produce – back to their families, inspiring families to come together to try out new recipes and eat more nutritiously.

“We see that our kids are a tremendous influence on their families, said Rob Grayson Development Director for Storyteller. “This is especially so when they are excited about a fun new recipe they’ve learned and want to show their parents and siblings how to make it. The whole family gets to incorporate a healthy new meal or snack into their regular diet.”

FLIP is currently offered at six school-based, preschool and early childcare centers throughout Santa Barbara County.

“It’s a great partnership working with Foodbank,” said Grayson. “For our kids, the meals they get here are often times the most well-rounded and nutritious meals they get in a day, and FLIP also creates this opportunity to stretch this vital health resource into a lifetime of healthy choices.”

“Storyteller is committed to transforming the lives of some of our most vulnerable families by providing children the earliest start to break through generational cycles of poverty,” said Erik Talkin, CEO of Foodbank. “It is an honor to work side by side as we, too, provide tools to help families break through cycles of poor nutrition to create a healthy future for all.”

Locally, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County serves 144,000 low-income, below federal poverty level individuals in Santa Barbara County (one if four of our total population), many of them working families, children and seniors. For more information about FLIP and other Foodbank programs, visit www.foodbanksbc.org.

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Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s CEO Erik Talkin Talks Thanksgiving

Erik with Daughter Mia

Erik with Daughter Mia

The BEET Question 1

“Prior to working at the Foodbank, I worked in Community Soup Kitchens for 6 years and my view of the holidays and my approach to it has never been the same.  We recognize that Thanksgiving is usually a day to get together, share with one another and make sure everyone has enough to eat.  But we should not stop on this day.  We should be figuring out how to make this possible the other 364 days of the year. We want to encourage the idea of Thanksgiving traditions, people getting together and cooking together as a family as a model for all the other days.  We often don’t think we have the time to cook together, but we actually do if we count it as the time we spend together and relate with each other as a family.  It should be continued regularly as something healthy to do together.”

The BEET Question 2

“I was brought up in England where they didn’t have Thanksgiving, but because my father was in the US Navy and we were Americans we would have Thanksgiving even though other people didn’t.  We would have a pretty standard Thanksgiving meal, we liked to make different types of stuffing, like a pretzel stuffing or a buckwheat stuffing…”

The BEET Question 3

“Yes I do, but actually this year is the first year that my family will be going to my oldest son’s house in Oakland and he’s going to cook the meal for us, rather than have the meal cooked for him. So were looking forward to that…It’s a whole new chapter…”

The BEET Question 4

“The most important thing we can do is to not focus on Thanksgiving as a special day.  Yes we want to make sure that everyone has a turkey and enough to eat on Thanksgiving, but the main thing that we need to take from this is, what happens let’s say in February? People are still going to be hungry in February.  What’s going to happen in the summer when the sun’s beating down in Santa Barbara and we think everything is wonderful? Families are still very food insecure then, so security is about being fed throughout the year, not having a feast and famine situation which only plays into ill health that is related to nutrition.”

the BEET Quetion 5

“I like stuffing, good stuffing, stuffing with buckwheat or with large Dutch pretzels…I’m definitely a stuffing guy!”

The BEET Question 6

“I’m thankful that we have such a great group of employees, volunteers, and supporters at the Foodbank who really do bring the Thanksgiving spirit the whole year round rather than the energy only being around the one time of year.  I’m very thankful for that.”

The BEET Question 7

“We want to encourage people to eat responsibly and to remember that once the New Year comes, people are still hungry and food insecure then, so it’s all about spreading the love throughout the year.  We’d also love people to inspire those in their family to be more involved with cooking and more involved with food as a way of strengthening the family and strengthening everyone’s health.”

Interview By Erin Hansen, RDN

Nutrient Dense Holiday Foods

HOLIDAY TIPS: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NUTRIENT DENSE HOLIDAY FOODS

We are all familiar with the holiday season routine: attending parties and  gatherings with family, friends, and colleagues and splurging over the never ending dinner table. When holidays are finally over, we cross our fingers  and nervously step on our bathroom scale  hoping we only gained a pound or two. Fortunately, many holiday foods such as pumpkin, turkey, cranberries, and sweet potatoes are nutrient dense and if prepared correctly and eaten in moderation can not only enhance our health but also can prevent us from gaining those holiday pounds.

Pumpkin

Did you know one serving of pumpkin has nearly two-and-a-half times the recommended intake of vitamin A, which plays an important role in vision and skin health. In addition to being rich in vitamin A, pumpkin is also rich in iron, which plays a role in transporting oxygen to our cells. Try using pumpkin in healthy soups, homemade breads,  pumplin pies, and casserole dishes.

Turkey

Turkey is not only a delicious protein but is a good source of B-vitamins, selenium and zinc, nutrients essential for optimal nerve and immune function. Hold off on eating the outer skin which is full of fat and go for the white meat which generally has a lower fat content than darker meat. Try basting your turkey with broth, sherry wine, and seasonings and less butter to reduce the fat content.

Cranberries

Cranberry is a super-food that provides color to our holiday dishes. It is rich in vitamin C, fiber and has more antioxidants than strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. When making cranberry sauce, try reducing the sugar content by 25% which still yields a delicious sauce. Try adding cranberries to meat dishes, muffins and desserts.

Sweet Potatoes

Don’t let the sweet nature of a sweet potato fool you. One medium sweet potato has over four times the recommended intake of vitamin A! It is also rich in vitamin C and Iron. So try incorporating sweet potatoes in your holiday dishes like  in potato salads, baked sweet potato fries, sweet potato ravioli stuffing, or even mashed sweet potatoes.

Holiday Recipe

Pumpkin Spiced Cranberry Sweet Potatoes

MAKES ABOUT 6 SERVINGS

Ingredients

4 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
¾ cup dried cranberries

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a 9×9 baking dish, combine the orange juice, vegetable oil, sugar, pumpkin spice, and salt.
3. Add potatoes and cranberries.
4. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

By Teresa Nigro, Cal Poly Dietetic Intern

New Nutrition News and Tips to Resume in November

 

Hello Readers!

Here’s what’s going in in October at the Foodbank, and boy it’s a busy month!

  • Launching programs across the county (Food Literacy in Preschools, Kids Farmers Market, Teems Love Cooking, Diabetes Impact Group)
  • Preparing for our Foodbank Partners Summit at La Casa De Maria in Montecito Oct 21st
  • Preparing for our Impact Departments trip to Chicago for Feeding America’s big yearly conference ACPN

I appreciate your patience as we diligently work in the Impact Department to ensure our programs are successfully up and running and we are prepared for our big Summit and Conference.

New The BEET: All Things Nutrition Posts will resume in November with topics covering Fat, Sustainability, Artificial Sweeteners, and Gut Microbes as well as more Guest Interviews with prominent Santa Barbara Voices. Also stay tuned for some delicious Fall recipes that are bound to satisfy all your senses.

You can now subscribe to The BEET by entering in your email on the left side of the blog and by clicking on the “SUBSCRIBE” button. By subscribing, you will receive an email notification when a new post has been added. This will be much easier than remembering to check out my page every week!

Healthy Fruit PumpkinHappy Halloween, and remember to treat your bodies well over the usually sugar laden holiday. Fill up on wonderful and sweet Fall fruits and vegetables like figs, apples, squash and sweet potatoes. Your body and soul will thank you.

The BEET: Heirloom Tomato, Peach, and Basil Summer Salad

Tomato-Peach-Basil-Summer-Salad

At the Foodbank, we pride ourselves in teaching others the importance of and value in preparing seasonal recipes that nourish our body. And late Summer time is all about sweet and juicy tomatoes and peaches. The sweetness of the peach perfectly balances the acidity of the tomato, and lucky for us, they are both in season together. The colors alone will make your mouth water.

Tomatoes are an antioxidant powerhouse, their most famous antioxidant being lycopene. Tomatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C and beta-carotene, and a good source of potassium, vitamin K, and manganese. Due to these powerful nutrients, tomatoes do a great job of protecting us from oxidative damage, reducing our risk for heart disease and certain cancers. Some studies also suggest that tomatoes help protect our bloodstream as well as our bone and kidney health.

With the peach’s beautiful coral and golden orange colors, you can be sure you are eating a great source of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is famous for promoting healthy vision, especially in low light. Vitamin A also helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, and skeletal and soft tissues. It’s a dynamite nutrient.

Please indulge in this delicious and colorful salad as you embrace the last few weeks of Summer. Your body will thank you!

Heirloom Tomato, Peach, and Basil Summer Salad

Prep Time: 5 Minutes Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 heirloom tomatoes (any color), cored and thinly slicedTomates and Peaches
  • 2 ripe peaches, cored and thinly sliced
  • ¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup torn or julienned fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

Method

Combine the tomatoes, peaches and red onion in a bowl and toss with the basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper until evenly mixed. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to two days. Enjoy in the sunshine with family if possible!

Substitute:

  • Nectarines for peaches if you prefer smooth to fuzzy skin
  • Apple cider vinegar for Balsamic vinegar for a milder taste

Add:

  • A sprinkle of creamy feta or goat cheese for cheese lovers
  • Pistachios or walnuts for a sweet crunch

The BEET: Meet Rhianna King, RD

Rianna KingRhianna King is a clinical registered dietitian at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, and works with cancer patients at the Mission Hope Cancer Center to provide appropriate nutritional counseling, information and recommendations. She currently serves as the Clinical Nutrition Manager at Marian. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University in 2009 with a Bachelors of Sciences in Nutrition. She completed her Dietetic Internship through Cal Poly as well. She encourages patients and clients to focus on eating mostly plants to optimize their health and prevent/fight disease. She embodies what it means to be a connected and caring nutrition professional and registered dietitian, whose focus is to provide evidence based nutrition information throughout Santa Maria.

The-BEET-Question-1

“To me being healthy means feeling your best both physically and mentally to enjoy life to its fullest. This includes engaging in activities like healthy eating and regular physical activity that keeps your body functioning as it should.”

The-BEET-Question-2

“Our health directly impacts our quality of life. Living healthy means a longer life, less time spent in the hospital, and less time spending money on medications and procedures that have the potential to be prevented through proper nutrition and physical activity. Food fuels our body and has everything we need in it for optimal health. If you look at the composition of a tomato for example versus a human being you might be surprised at all the similarities; water, carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, minerals, etc. Our body is capable of so many amazing things and proper nutrition is the required fuel.”

The-BEET-Question-3

“My motivation comes from my desire to have a positive impact in the lives of the people around me. I have knowledge in a particular field that can improve health, prevent and treat disease, and that knowledge needs to be shared. I want to help people take charge of their health and improve their lives.”

The-BEET-Question-4

“I think food insecurity can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health. Inadequate nutrition can also cause social anxieties and behavioral changes all leading to poor quality of life.”

The-BEET-Question-5

“Food First! I try to instill in everyone that consuming a variety of foods is the best way to achieve optimal nutrition, NOT through a pill. There is no “magic” single food or dietary supplement that creates the perfect diet. The FUNdamentals with Food class I started at the cancer center serves to be educational about healthy diet practices by exposing our patients to the variety of healthy foods we talk about through cooking demonstration and lecture. I always comment that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring or taste bad and its part of my job as nutrition professional and advocate to prove that to you.”

The-BEET-Question-6

“Enjoy a diet that is 2/3 plant based and experience great health for yourself!”

For more information about the FUNdamentals of Food Class and other health and wellness classes run through the Mission Hope Cancer Center, please click here.

And check out Rhianna King’s Article The Red, White, and Blue of Summer Produce that shares the Nutrition Power of summer fruits and vegetables.

The BEET: The Power of Fruits and Vegetables

the-beet-logo-draft1F&V

Fruits and Vegetables in the News

We’ve all seen the news that eating fruits and vegetables helps us in all aspects of our lives. It seems like every day, studies emerge linking fruit and vegetable consumption to overall health and vitality like below:

 

Nutrition Headlines Graphic

 

Fruits and Vegetables are linked to reducing your risk of obesity, heart disease, and certain cancers. They are even linked to improving your optimism and reducing your risk of death! Is there truth to these claims? YES! While some of the statements are exaggerative, the truth is, fruits and vegetables help us in all these areas because they are nutrient dense and low calorie foods that the body needs and craves for optimal health.

Nutrient Dense Foods

 

 

When you eat nutrient dense and low calorie foods, like fruits and vegetables, you are maximizing the amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you eat, while keeping your calorie intake low.

Nutrition Power

Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants help our bodies function properly and achieve optimal wellness. Vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables positively affect our metabolism, protein synthesis, brain function…the list goes on and on.

Auntie OxidantAntioxidants act as scavengers in our bodies, traveling through our tissues and cells, to locate the damaging free radicals that seek to harm our cells. These free radicals damage our body’s protein and fat cells, as well as our cellular DNA, increasing our risk for certain cancers and heart disease. Free radicals are unavoidable, as they are formed when we breathe in pollution or smoke, when we are stressed, or when we eat less healthy foods. We need these powerful antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables to confront these war-like free radicals and say “No, not in my body!”

Now think about what this means in terms of weight management and optimism. By eating more nutrient dense and low calorie foods, you are optimizing your health and supplying your body with what it truly needs. You can and should feel proud of yourself for treating yourself in the best possible way. I don’t know about you, but when I eat a fruit or a vegetable, I imagine my body thanking me for nourishing it. I feel healthier immediately, energized, and ready to take on the day. I feel confident that what I have just put in my body will sustain and take care of me. I feel more connected to the earth and what it provides for me, therefore, I have a more optimistic outlook on the day.

Give Peas a Chance

(I am fully aware of how hippie-like this sounds, but it’s true!!)

Good Nutrition Equals Mental Health

By feeling healthier and more connected, you can tackle depressive moments and pessimistic views. Many studies have linked depression to being overweight or obese. By incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your meals, you are foregoing more calorie “rich” foods laden with starchy carbohydrates and saturated fat which have been shown to increase your risk for obesity as well as weigh you down physically and emotionally.

Vicious Circle

In this vicious circle, overeating unhealthy foods can lead to depression, and depression can lead to overeating unhealthy foods. It’s not science.

Optimistic Circle

Putting This Into Action

So how do we do this? Fruits and vegetables have a stigma, one that desperately needs to be eradicated. As a dietitian, I hear all the time, “fruits and vegetables are expensive…they are hard to prepare…I don’t know how to use them…I know I should eat them, but…”

I don’t want to try and convince you that fruits and vegetables are cheaper than fast food, but if thoughtfully planned out, they can be a very affordable part of your diet, especially if you utilize the produce the Foodbank offers, or if you grow your own. Fruits and vegetables also are less expensive if you buy them in season, because you don’t have to pay for the cost of transportation as well as other hidden costs.

Fresh Salad PrepAnd they are not hard to prepare! As long as you have a knife and a cutting board, the time it takes to cut up a lettuce, carrot, cucumber, broccoli, and avocado salad is less than 5 minutes! That’s less time than it takes to go through a drive-through window. And at the same time, you are breaking this “vicious circle” of poor diet and unhappiness.

I am confident, if you continue to tune into The BEET: All Things Nutrition, you will change the way you think about fruits and vegetables. They will become staples in your kitchens, the center of your family dining experience, and important components of your everyday health.

Stay tuned for more of The BEET: All Things Nutrition. And make sure to sign up for the Foodbank’s e-mail newsletter to discover great new resources for our entire community.

 

 

Butter Lettuce Nectarine Salad

Ingredients

1/3 cup walnuts
5 cups butter lettuce or any type of lettuce
2 ripe nectarines, pitted and sliced
2 tbls bottled raspberry vinaigrette dressing

Directions

  • Add walnuts to a skillet placed over medium, high heat.
  • Toast nuts until they start to deeply brown in spots and smell fragrant. Set aside.
  • Wash and dry lettuce and tear into bite sized pieces. Place lettuce in a large serving bowl and add nectarines.
  • Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss gently to coat.
  • Sprinkle with toasted walnuts.

Serves 4, serving size 11/2 cups

Colorful Kale Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes
Serving size: 1 ½ cups
Servings: 3
Tastes: 6

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
  • 4 cups finely chopped kale, tough ribs removed
  • 2 cups finely chopped red cabbage
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 2 apples, grated with peels on
  • 2 Tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds

Directions

  • In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper
  • In a large bowl, mix together the kale, red cabbage, carrots, and apples
  • Pour dressing over the kale mixture and toss to combine.
  • Ideally cover and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, until the kale begins to soften and wilt
  • Sprinkle with sunflower seeds immediately before serving