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Four Ways to Make Easter Healthier

Four Ways to Make Easter Healthier

Easter is less than a month away. April 16 is just around the corner. It’s time to start planning now to stick to your family’s healthier choices and preferences. Steering through the Easter holiday can be difficult if you are trying to make healthy choices and also trying to help your kids make healthier choices. Often, grandparents or well-meaning friends and family members can sabotage a healthy diet faster than a chocolate bunny served with a cream filled egg!

Here’s Four Ways to make your Easter weekend healthier:

Healthy Easter Eggs – Most Easter egg hunts consist of filling colored plastic eggs with candy and then laying the plastic eggs in the yard. Instead of filling them with candy, why not write some sort of fun activity or suggestion on slips of paper and put those in eggs? Ideas include: “Do 20 jumping jacks” and “run to the backyard fence and back” or “This slip entitles you to a walk around the lake with Dad.”  The further the egg hunt moves on, the more exercise the kids will get and the faster they will want to go to bed that night without the sugar high!

Neighborhood/Community Egg Hunt – Meet with your neighborhoods a couple weeks ahead of time. Determine who will be home and who won’t mind all the kids zipping in and out of their yard. Then develop a neighborhood-wide egg hunt. Make sure the kids know there are some cool prizes in the eggs. They will zig zag all over the neighborhood and making it a fun event for everyone.

Candy Rationing – If friends or family bring a solid 1 lb chocolate egg or a 3-foot-tall candy filled basket, you can ration the candy out to the kids at your own pace. Let your kids know ahead of time that it’s not healthy to eat all the candy in one sitting. Some parents even donate “extra” candy to other children or schools for class parties so that there is not a ton of extra candy sitting around after Easter.

Filler Ideas – Who says it must be candy in the egg? It’s perfectly fine to fill the eggs with “non-candy” items. If it fits, put it in the egg. Think stickers, toy cars, hair ties and bows, lip balm, coins and cash. Get creative and have fun with your ideas for egg fillers.

Written by Krissy Gillaspia for Walkingspree.

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It’s Not Too Late to Observe National Nutrition Month

It’s Not Too Late to Observe National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. In addition, National Nutrition Month® promotes the Academy and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information.

2017 NNM Theme

“Put Your Best Fork Forward” is the theme for NNM 2017 which serves as a reminder that each one of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices. Making small changes during National Nutrition Month® and over time, helps improve health now and into the future. As nutrition experts, Academy members can help guide the public on gradually shifting toward healthier eating styles by promoting NNM activities and messages during March.


Initiated in March 1973 as a week-long event, “National Nutrition Week” became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition. Read more in the article, “National Nutrition Month: A Brief History.”

Key Messages for National Nutrition Month:

  1. Create an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods.
  2. Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients.
  3. How much we eat is as important as what we eat. Eat and drink the right amount for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  4. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  5. Manage your weight or lower your health risks by consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

The above information was taken from

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Strategies to Bring to the Thanksgiving Table

Strategies to Bring to the Thanksgiving Table

Ah, Thanksgiving dinner. Friends, family and all that food! Just the thought of it can put one in a carb coma.

But as with all things in life, moderation is the key, so plan your eating strategy. Here are a few ideas that may help you enjoy your time at the turkey table without feeling guilt the next day.

  • Take time to enjoy your food. Slow down, enjoy your company and eat mindfully.
  • Take smaller portions. You can always go back for seconds.
  • Take time to enjoy your indulgences. Rate your favorite foods from 1-10 and eat only 9s and 10s.
  • Take time and listen to your stomach. When you are full, push your plate away. No need to be stuffed like the turkey.
  • Take time to eat breakfast and avoid skipping meals before the feast. If you become too hungry you may overeat.
  • Take a dish to pass. The hosts will appreciate it and you can make sure there is a healthy dish available.
  • Take a walk before and after dinner. The extra steps will help curb your appetite and steel your resolve.
  • Take time to compliment the cook – especially if you are doing the cooking.

Above all, remember, this is just one day out of 365. This day will not make or break you if you make wise food choices the rest of the year.

TIP: Use your Food Tracker on your portal/home page before you sit down at the table. Knowing how many calories are in a specific food may help you eat a smaller portion. It will also help you identify foods that are lower in calories.

RECIPE: Sweet Potato Casserole

Try this “healthified” casserole that boosts only 250 calories per serving — less than half the calories of the original 540 calories version.


· 1 can (40 oz) sweet potatoes in syrup, drained
· 1/3 cup granulated sugar
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1/4 cup fat-free egg product
· 1/4 cup fat-free (skim) milk
· 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

· 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
· 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 1 tablespoon no-trans-fat vegetable oil spread, melted
· 1/3 cup chopped pecans

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 1 1/2-quart casserole with cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, mash sweet potatoes. Stir in granulated sugar, salt, egg product, milk and vanilla; spoon into casserole.
3. In small bowl, mix all topping ingredients except pecans until well blended. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.
4. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Makes 8 servings.

Calories: 250 (calories from fat: 45)
Total Fat: 5g
Saturated Fat: 0.5g
Trans Fat: 0g
Cholestero:l 0mg
Sodium: 220mg
Total Carbohydrate: 47g
Dietary Fiber: 4g
Sugars: 37g
Protein: 3g


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Rutgers Researchers Debunk ‘Five-Second Rule’: Eating Food off the Floor Isn’t Safe

Rutgers Researchers Debunk ‘Five-Second Rule’:

Eating Food off the Floor Isn’t Safe

Sometimes bacteria can transfer in less than a second.
Turns out bacteria may transfer to candy that has fallen on the floor no matter how fast you pick it up.

Rutgers researchers have disproven the widely accepted notion that it’s okay to scoop up food and eat it within a “safe” five-second window. Donald Schaffner, professor and extension specialist in food science, found that moisture, type of surface and contact time all contribute to cross-contamination. In some instances, the transfer begins in less than one second.

Their findings appear online in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

“The popular notion of the ‘five-second rule’ is that food dropped on the floor, but picked up quickly, is safe to eat because bacteria need time to transfer,” Schaffner said, adding that while the pop culture “rule” has been featured by at least two TV programs, research in peer-reviewed journals is limited.

“We decided to look into this because the practice is so widespread. The topic might appear ‘light’ but we wanted our results backed by solid science,” said Schaffner, who conducted research with Robyn Miranda, a graduate student in his laboratory at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Researchers found carpet has very low bacteria transfer rates compared with those of tile and stainless steel.

The researchers tested four surfaces – stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet – and four different foods (watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy). They also looked at four different contact times – less than one second, five, 30 and 300 seconds. They used two media – tryptic soy broth or peptone buffer – to grow Enterobacter aerogenes, a nonpathogenic “cousin” of Salmonella naturally occurring in the human digestive system.Transfer scenarios were evaluated for each surface type, food type, contact time and bacterial prep; surfaces were inoculated with bacteria and allowed to completely dry before food samples were dropped and left to remain for specified periods. All totaled 128 scenarios were replicated 20 times each, yielding 2,560 measurements. Post-transfer surface and food samples were analyzed for contamination.

Not surprisingly, watermelon had the most contamination, gummy candy the least. “Transfer of bacteria from surfaces to food appears to be affected most by moisture,” Schaffner said. “Bacteria don’t have legs, they move with the moisture, and the wetter the food, the higher the risk of transfer. Also, longer food contact times usually result in the transfer of more bacteria from each surface to food.”

Perhaps unexpectedly, carpet has very low transfer rates compared with those of tile and stainless steel, whereas transfer from wood is more variable. “The topography of the surface and food seem to play an important role in bacterial transfer,” Schaffner said.

So while the researchers demonstrate that the five-second rule is “real” in the sense that longer contact time results in more bacterial transfer, it also shows other factors, including the nature of the food and the surface it falls on, are of equal or greater importance.

“The five-second rule is a significant oversimplification of what actually happens when bacteria transfer from a surface to food,” Schaffner said. “Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously.”

*This article originally appeared on Rutgers Today and was not authored by Walkingspree.

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Vitamin D and Heart Disease

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamine

Vitamin D and Heart Disease

Vitamin D may prevent heart disease, especially in men. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reported that men who took 600 IU of vitamin D a day were 28 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease or stroke, as compared to men who took 100 IU or less a day.

So how much should you take? Healthy adults should take 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D daily. People over age 70 should take 800 IU.

Sunlight is a natural source as it helps our body produce vitamin D, just 10 to 15 minutes exposure will do it. But that can be a challenge for people who live in northern climates, especially in the winter months when the rays of the sun are not strong enough to produce the required amounts of vitamin D in our bodies.

Other sources include oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines; foods fortified with vitamin D like milk, yogurt, orange juice and some ready-to-eat cereals; and vitamin supplements. You could also take a tablespoon of cod liver oil which has 1,360 IU.

But more is not necessarily better – above 4,000 IU a day the risk of adverse effects increases. If you want to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D, contact your doctor about having your level check through a blood test.

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