Today’s Superfood: Carrots

Carrots were one of the earliest vegetables grown by man. Carrots certainly live up to their name as a super food. One reason being, they are available to harvest all year round, making them a great choice no matter what the season!

Wish you could see in the dark? Carrots contain high levels of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in our bodies. Vitamin A works to improve our night vision and maintain our eye health- making it easier to see in the dark!

Fun fact: Carrots are grown deep in soil, allowing them to absorb an abundant amount of minerals beneficial to our health.


Good to know! Most vegetables when cooked lose their nutrients, but not carrots! Cooking them actually makes the high levels of beta-carotene more available for our bodies to absorb

Pick the perfect carrot

  • Bright orange
  • Firm
  • Fresh green tops
  • Medium in size
  • Tapper off at the end

Carrots are one of the most versatile vegetables. They can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled or baked. They can be added to stews, pasta, casseroles, or roasts. They even make a great ingredient for cake!



Ways to cooks your carrots

  • Braised:  Simmer in chicken broth.  When cooked to desired texture, add a touch of butter and salt.
  • Roasted: On baking sheet, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and parmesan cheese.  Cook at 400 for about 20 minutes.
  • Steamed: Cooked to perfection in a rice cooker or steamer.
  • Sautéed: Delicious in stir-fry’s and a great compliment to other vegetables.  Pour  1 TBL oil in a pan.  Add chopped vegetables.  Stir every minute or so until vegetables are cooked.


Don’t like your carrots plain?

Peas and Carrot Sandwich

1 cup of peas

2 TBL olive oil

1/4 cup shredded carrots

Put peas and oil in a food processor and pulse until combined.  Spread pesto like peas on whole wheat bread.  Grate or shred carrots and sprinkle on peas.


What’s your family’s favorite way to eat carrots?


Nutrition Education: Sugar

Sweetness is, together with salt, one of the most widely appreciated tastes. Sweetness is mainly caused by sugars, a class of small, soluble carbohydrates present in fruits, plants and other natural products. Common sugars are fructose (levulose, fruit sugar), maltose (malt sugar), lactose (milk sugar), glucose (dextrose) and especially saccharose (sucrose, table sugar). In processed foods mainly saccharose is used. It can either be obtained from sugarcane or from sugar beets. 

Carbohydrates, the main source of fuel for our bodies, typically make up over 50% of our daily calories. The carbohydrates we consume throughout the day are so essential because they are broken down to glucose and used as fuel.

Sugar is one of the three types of carbohydrates we consume, fiber and starch being the others. Sugar is referred to as a simple carbohydrate or fast acting carbohydrate because it is immediately digested when it enters the body.


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What is happening when you eat a sugary bowl of cereal or drink a can of soda? When you consume sugar, a simple carbohydrate, it quickly rushes into your bloodstream causing you to feel a quick rush of energy. This large spike in blood sugar initiates the production of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreases to regulate blood sugar levels. As the insulin does its job, your blood sugar levels start to decrease resulting in the need for more quick-release fuel, often called a sugar craving.

Simple sugars can occur naturally in fruit and milk. However, the sugars to avoid are added and refined, these are most commonly found in processed foods. These foods have been stripped of their nutrients and fiber and replaced with added sugar. Over consuming high-sweetened foods and drinks can cause a plethora of health problems including, insomnia, headaches, allergies, tooth decay and even more serious effects like diabetes and obesity.


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Sugar Shockers

  • The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day- that is equal to consuming 51 pixy sticks.
  • The average child consumes 500 cans of soda annually- stacking one child’s cans would reach 197ft: 9ft taller than Cinderella’s castle at Disneyland.
  • Most people eat 100% of their sugar allowance during breakfast.
  • Many foods that are not sweet contain added sugar- ketchup, refined grains, mayonnaise, and cereals are some of the those.



  • Read the labels
    • The American Heart Association recommends no more than 24 grams for women, 36 grams for men, and 16 grams for preschoolers.
    • Children between the ages of 4-8 should consume less sugar at around 12 grams a day.
    • Teens and pre-teens should consume between 20-32 grams a day.


  • Scan the ingredients list
    • The word “sugar” is often hidden behind other names. Some including Sucrose, Maltose, Dextrose, Glucose, High fructose corn syrup, Glucose solids, Beet sugar, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Caramel, Buttered syrup, and Malt syrup.
    • Hint: The words “syrup”, “sweetener”, and anything ending in “ose” can usually be assumed to be “sugar”.


  • Choose healthy alternatives
    • Get your carbohydrates for from other sources
      • Starchy foods ~ vegetables, lentils, beans, grains (oats, wheat and barley)
      • Fiber rich ~ milk, eggs, meat, and fish
      • Simple sugars that are naturally occurring and unrefined ~ fruit and milk

Today’s SuperFood: Quinoa

QUINOA (keen-wah)

Why is quinoa a super food?

Provides the body with 48% of its daily magnesium needs. Magnesium is an important mineral that helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Quinoa is also rich in manganese, iron, lysine and riboflavin.

Contains almost twice as much fiber as other grains.

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Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that is a complete protein which means it supplies the body with all nine essential amino acid.


Protein Content in one serving

  • Quinoa 13.1 grams
  • Brown Rice 7.5grams
  • White Rice 6.6grams

Quinoa is naturally gluten free making it a great option for anyone with celiac disease or individuals following a gluten free diet. Many products, including breakfast cereals and pastas, are made with quinoa giving individuals a great variety of options.

The most common found quinoa is white, red and black. However there are actually 120 varieties including purple, orange and green

We interestingly eat and cook quinoa as a grain, however it is actually in the plant family with spinach, beets and chard.

Quinoa is a perfect grain to cook at home. It is easily cooked in 15minutes or less!


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Birds Nest Kids Lunch


1 cup quinoa

1 1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup beans (kidney or black)


-Combined quinoa with, water, and seasonings- cook in microwave or stovetop.

-While rice is still warm, scoop into plastic wrap in order to shape into a ball.

-Take out of plastic wrap, and press in the middle to shape a nest.

-Fill nest with cooked and warmed beans.

Let’s move it!

As the new school year begins and you and your family are settling into a routine, don’t forget to stay physically active. Start this new school year off with healthy habits. Although summer has come to an end, the heat still remains, making it difficult to be active outside. Use these ideas to keep kids moving while staying cool!


Up and down the stairs – How fast are you? Can you beat your siblings?


Pretend all the tile or carpet in the house is hot lava!

During commercials see how many jumping jacks you can do

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Play your family’s favorite music – have everyone join in! Dance party!

In your room – create your own crazy moves!


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Practice swimming laps.

Play a family game of catch or volleyball in your pool.


Still want to get out of the house? Find a local ice-skating rink, bowling ally or jump house!


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After a lot of activity fruit is the perfect snack. Fresh fruit contains carbohydrates that provide energy and lots of water for hydration. Fruit is also full of nutrients your body needs to replenish after exercise.


What is your favorite way to add activity to your school year?

Today’s Superfood: Chicken

Chicken is a very popular food in this country, as well as throughout the world. And no wonder since it is delicious, nutritious and can be prepared a multitude of ways. Here are some healthy facts about chicken:

  • Contains low amounts of fat and high amounts of protein
  • Rich in phosphorus an essential mineral that supports teeth and bones
  • High in trace minerals that support immune health
  • Low in saturated fat when compared to salmon and steak

Dark vs. White Meat: Dark meat is found in the legs and thighs of the chicken. While white meat is found in the breasts and the wings. Myoglobin, an oxygen carrying protein, gives dark meat its reddish color. So what is the real difference? There are many myths that one is better than the other; the truth being dark meat contains slightly more fat then white meat yet both are equally great options for protein.

Fun Facts:

  • Chickens slurp grass like a human would slurp spaghetti.
  • Chickens can’t taste sweetness in foods however they can detect salt, and most choose to avoid it.
  • The chicken is the closest living relative to the great Tyrannosaurus-Rex.

Chicken, a great source of protein! Protein is an important building block for our bodies; typically adolescents need around 0.8g – 1g of protein per kilogram of body weight. Protein is essential for repairing and building our tissue and is used in making enzymes and hormones our bodies need to function properly.


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Chicken Chompers – whole-muscle chicken, lightly breaded with whole grain crust, and then baked to perfection – 19 grams protein

Chicken Sandwich – whole muscle chicken, lightly bread and baked, and then layered between two parts of a whole grain bun – 21 grams protein

Popcorn Chicken – small morsels of whole muscle chicken, lightly breaded with a whole grain crust, and then baked to perfection – 18 grams protein

Mini Chicken Sliders – 18 grams protein


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Chicken Strips

1 lb chicken tenders

2 cups Greek Yogurt

2 cups Panko Crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 TBL Olive Oil

Dip chicken into yogurt and coat on both sides. In a seperate bowl, mix panko, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Dip yogurt covered chicken into the Panko with seasonings.  Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray and arrange chicken tenders in pan.  Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350 for 20-40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through, and no longer pink.


Mix it up with one of these 3 dipping sauces!

Citrus Spice Dip

3/4 cup Orange juice

1/4 cup Lemon Juice

2 garlic cloves

3/4 tsp dried mustard

salt and pepper

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp corn starch

zest of 1 orange

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Boil until begins to thicken, just a few minutes.

Rockin Ranch

1 cup Light Sour Cream

1 tsp parsley,dried

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp dill weed

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.    Chill until ready to eat.

Honey Mustard

1 Cup Light Sour Cream

2 TBL Dijon Mustard

2 TBL Honey

Mix all ingredients together and chill until ready to eat.

As Kids Head Back to School…

Chandler Unified School District is proud to be a part of the Healthy, Hunger- Free Act, which is providing millions of children with improved, healthy meals.

Wesley Delbrige, registered dietician and director of food and nutrition at CUSD, wants parents to know “Parents can trust that when they send their kids to school, they will have access to healthy, nutritious food – more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, less salt, sugar and fat.”

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As the new school year begins, you can expect to see increased amounts of fruits and vegetables and decreased amounts of fat. Our menu will also include more whole grains and work to significantly reduced sodium content. You can feel assured that higher quantities of nutrients are being provided to your children.

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CUSD is also pleased to be apart of the Farm to School Program – bringing fresh foods in from local farms. This program works to expose children to new varieties of fresh, local foods.

CUSD Nutrition is continually working to advance their menu with a variety of healthful options. Our nutrition department loves to hear the input of parents, so we can continue working to improve our menus.

Read the full article on what to expect as we enter the new school year.

We want to hear from you! What do you think about the food your kids get for lunch? What kinds of foods would you like to see on the menu?

Today’s Superfood: Milk

Milk has long been associated with good health and is one of the most consumed beverages throughout the US and Europe. It is thought that the ability to digest the milk sugar lactose beyond infancy first evolved in dairy farming communities in central Europe around 7500 years ago.

Did you know?

What you would have to eat to get the same amount of calcium as an 8oz glass of milk?

  • 12 servings of whole grains
  • 6 servings of legumes
  • 10 cups of spinach

An 8oz cup of milk contains 366mg of potassium, the same amount found in a banana. Potassium supports heart health and muscle growth.

Milk is rich in Vitamins A, D, and B12, minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, and protein. Cheers to that!

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Decoding Dairy

Whole milk: contains the same amount of fat found leaving the cow. Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin added to milk, is easily absorbed in the body when consumed in whole milk.

2% & 1% milk: has reduced calories and fat but the amount of nutrients remains the same.

Fat-free milk: contains the lowest calories and fat content but still contains all the nutrients found in whole and reduced fat milk.

Lactose free milk: Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerant? Lactose free milk is real milk containing the same amount of calcium, potassium and vitamin D just without the lactose.


Incorporating Milk into your child’s diet

Mix half white milk with flavored milk like chocolate or strawberry as a special treat.

Use milk as a base instead of water for soups and oatmeal.

Blend milk with fresh fruit as a delicious afternoon snack:

  • 1 part milk
  • 1 part ripe fruit
  • 2 parts ice or frozen fruit