Stay Smart During the Holidays

The holidays are quickly approaching. That means family gatherings, fun celebrations, and lots of food! During this time, holiday foods should be enjoyed. There are many easy and stress free ways to keep healthy during this joyful time. With simple changes, you and your family can stay smart about holiday eating.


Start everyday with breakfast

Skipping breakfast will not save room to indulge later! It will actually cause us to make poor food choices. Start each day on a good foot, with a wholesome breakfast. Including fiber, protein, and whole grains. This will give us energy and keep us full longer.

Make breakfast seasonal

  • Pumpkin or gingerbread pancakes
  • Cinnamon oatmeal
  • Eggnog French toast
  • Sweet potatoes and eggs
  • Seasonal fruit parfait (kiwi, pears, pomegranate, tangerines)

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Swap your ingredients

Whether you are hosting a holiday dinner or providing a dish, there are many healthy alternatives that can be incorporated into traditional family recipes.

  • Replace sour cream with Greek yogurt
  • Replace sugar with applesauce
  • Replace white bread and grains for whole wheat
  • Add flavor with spices instead of salt
  • Try spaghetti squash instead of pasta
  • Choose white meat instead of dark
  • Veggies with dip in replacement of chips


Enjoy dessert

It is completely acceptable to enjoy guilt free deserts during the holidays. However, moderation is key! Chose a smaller serving size and bake with superfood ingredients.

  • Add fresh and seasonal fruit to deserts
  • Add flavor with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
  • Lessen the amount of oil and butter and add avocado
  • Add in flax meal, you wont even know it is there!
  • Make deserts with peanut butter, fresh bananas, and nuts

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Family Activities

While the holidays are a time to relax, don’t get too comfortable. The extra time spent with family and friends in the perfect time for family outings.

  • Spend the day at the park
  • Go for a walk after eating
  • Play an active family game. Get everyone involved!

Sneak in Veggies

The wide variety of holiday dishes makes it easy to sneak in veggies. Veggies add favor and health benefits!

  • Incorporate kale or spinach in stuffing
  • Sweet potato or cauliflower mashed potatoes
  • Sautéed veggies as a side dish
  • Add whole corn to cornbread

Today’s Superfood: Sweet Potatoes

It is fall and that means sweet potatoes are at their peak. This is the best time of year to add sweet potatoes to your holiday meals. Although, why not enjoy them all year round? Even after the holidays sweet potatoes are a delicious and nutritious food. The United States currently grows 1 million tons of sweet potatoes every year!

Sweet Superfood Power

The deep and beautiful orange hues of sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene. This is great for are bodies. We can convert it to vitamin A when needed. That is why eating one potato can give us an abundant amount of our daily vitamin A needs.

Fun Fact: we usually think of sweet potatoes as only being orange in color. However, some can actually be a vibrant purple color!

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While sweet potatoes are a starchy vegetable, they don’t affect our blood sugar like you would expect. They are loaded with fiber so our bodies can digest them slowly. They also contain extracts that can reduce and stabilize our blood sugar.

When we think of vitamin C we think of oranges. Well now we can think of sweet potatoes! They are great sources of vitamin C containing 51% the daily value.

Helpful Hint: When you are purchasing sweet potatoes at the store, it may say “yams”. However, you can be sure you are purchasing sweet potatoes. Commercial productions of yams are rare, but sweet potatoes are grown like crazy!

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Cooking: Luckily sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, grilled, stir-fried with little damage to its nutrient content. However, steaming is a good alternative. It is quick, easy and does not require any oils or high temperatures.

Try a delicious and quick sweet potato recipe from Arizona Nutrition Network at

Fast and Easy Sweet Potatoes

1 pound sweet potatoes, washed and cut into ½ inch slices
½ cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt

Wash hands with warm water and soap. Wash fresh vegetables before preparing.

Put sweet potatoes in a large skillet and cover with boiling water.

Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender. Drain well.

Mix all the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

Return the potatoes to the skillet. Pour the sauce over them.

Cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes.

Serve warm.

Building a Healthy Meal for your Child

We all want to make sure our kids are getting healthy, balanced meals. Here are some great tips to help you make their meals more balanced.

blog post_build healthy meals 01  Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients

  • Vitamin A prevents infections
  • Vitamin C heals the body
  • Folate keeps cells healthy
  • Potassium lowers blood pressure
  • Fiber maintains a healthy gut

Encourage your child to fill up on fruit

  • Add fruits to meals like oatmeal and cereal
  • Keep a colorful fruit bowl
  • Pack fruit in their lunches
  • Pre-slice fruit for easy snacks


Add vegetables to your child’s favorite meals

  • Use veggies in soups and stir-fry’s
  • Add greens to a sandwich
  • Order pizza with veggies
  • Include a salad with dinner
  • Serve veggies with dipping sauce

Tips for purchasing fruits and vegetables

  • Rise canned veggies to remove sodium
  • Purchase seasonally
  • Buy a variety of colors
  • Purchase fresh produce weekly

blog post_build healthy meals 03  Protein

When your child falls and scraps their knee. Their bodies use protein in order to repair itself.

Protein rich foods include:

  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds

Choose the proper protein for your child

  • Choose low fat meat and poultry
  • Alternate protein sources
  • Serve fish 3 times a week

 blog post_build healthy meals 02 Grains

Children receive several essential nutrients from fortified grains.

Add grains to your child’s diet

  • Purchase whole wheat pastas and breads
  • Replace white rice with brown rice
  • Replace recipes with whole wheat flour
  • Buy whole grain cereals

blog post_build healthy meals 04  Dairy

Children build strong bones with the nutrients found in dairy.

Don’t forget your child’s dairy

  • Vitamin D and calcium grow strong bones
  • Vary their choices between cheese, milk and yogurt
  • Select reduced fat, low fat and fat free
  • Purchase pasteurized dairy to ensure its safety

Today’s Superfood: Broccoli

Broccoli has been widely used and known for its health benefits since the 1920’s. Since then, it has been studied in over 300 research articles proving its superfood power. Evolving from its cabbage family, broccoli is very similar to cauliflower. An “edible flower” with strong nutrient power, broccoli is a diverse and flavorful food!

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Broccoli Benefits
  • Ability to lower cholesterol when steamed
  • A great “detox food” that eliminates unwanted contaminates
  • Contain a strong combination of vitamin D, A and K
  • Anti-inflammatory properties


Fun fact: Broccoli means “the flowering top of a cabbage”

Seasonal tip: Broccoli is available all year round, but is best during October through April.

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Steaming Broccoli

Broccoli is a powerful superfood no matter how it is eaten. However, steaming broccoli provides even more nutrient benefits. When steaming broccoli, you do not want to risk over cooking. This can damage the nutrients and remove the flavor. Steam using this effective method:

  • Add 2 inches of water to the bottom of a pot
  • Cut and prepare broccoli florets
  • Once water comes to a rapid boil, add florets
  • Steam for 5 minutes or less (this is the key to not over cooking)

Broccoli can be a challenging food to make appealing to kids. An effective way to give kids the nutrient benefits of broccoli is to add it to a delicious recipe! Our very own registered dietitian nutritionist Chandis Siwek created this hearty recipe. It is delicious and healthy!

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Broccoli and White Bean Soup with Croutons


1/2 large yellow onion

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium crowns of broccoli

1-15oz can of white beans

1 clove of garlic, rough chopped

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 spring rosemary, rough chopped

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


6 pieces of bread (French bread, whole wheat, gluten-free, etc)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste


In a food processor or blender, add onion and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Blend until smooth. Heat a medium-sized pot on medium heat with 2-tablespoon olive oil. Once oil is shimmering, add onion puree.

Add 1 crown of broccoli, 1⁄2 can of white beans, and 1-cup broth to food processor. Blend until smooth.

Add puree to pot. Add the rest of the broccoli, beans, and broth to the food processor with garlic. Blend until smooth and add to the pot. Add rosemary, paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Add additional broth for a more liquid consistency.


Preheat the oven to 350oF or set to broil. Stack 3 pieces of bread and cut in a grid to create cubes. Repeat. In a mixing bowl, add bread cubes, olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together until the pieces are coated evenly.

Spread the bread cubes on a sheet pan and place in the oven for about 5 minutes or until crispy.

Avoid overcooking the croutons. Sprinkle croutons and parmesan cheese over each bowl of soup and enjoy!

Healthy Fall, Healthy you

blog post_HEALTHY TIPS

Make this Fall your healthiest yet, with a healthy tip for every day of November.

  1. Flu season is here. Remind kids to wash their hands.
  2. Remind kids to slow down and enjoy their food.
  3. BUY most of your food from the produce, dairy and deli section.
  4. Make dinner time, family time.
  5. Shop smart and read the nutrition labels.
  6. 100% fruit juice counts as one serving of fruit.
  7. Go on a family walk.
  8. 10 minutes in the sun a day give adequate Vitamin D.
  9. Apples, oranges, and pears are all in season this month.
  10. Don’t forget to eat breakfast.
  11. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
  12. Have fruit with yogurt for dessert.
  13. Moderation is key.
  14. Use vinegar to disinfect surfaces and toys.
  15. Create a physical activity chart.
  16. Take your kids to the library to pick out books.
  17. Check the CUSD Nutrition blog for Thanksgiving Super foods.
  18. Teach your kids the importance of flossing.
  19. Let kids pick their own fruit and vegetable snack after school.
  20. Have a jump rope contest.
  21. Replace the saltshaker with herbs and spices.
  22. Make whole grain pancakes for breakfast.
  23. Add more fruits and vegetables to holiday cooking.
  24. Select cold foods last when shopping.
  25. Play a game of catch.
  26. Educate yourself on how to safely prepare holiday meals.
  27. Be thankful.
  28. Donate canned food to your local food bank.
  29. Have your kids pick their favorite fruits at the grocery store.
  30. End November with an outdoor family activity.

What are your great tips for staying healthy in the Fall/Winter months?