The Key to Healthy Living

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables with Dr. Joan Salge Blake

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

“Eat your fruits and vegetables!” is a phrase all too often heard by children as their parents’ attempt to instill healthy living and the importance of a balanced diet from a young age. However, as they mature, it becomes just as important to make sure they stay true to the mantra. Dr. Joan Salge Blake—clinical associate professor at Boston University’s Department of Health Sciences program, registered dietitian, published author, and host of the health and wellness podcast “Spot On!”—is continuing to advocate for this message in an era surrounded by food trends and alternatives.

Joan Salge Blake

“The recommendation is to have a minimum of two-and-a-half cups of vegetables a day and two cups of fruit a day for a combination of four-and-a-half cups … and [people] are not meeting those minimum requirements,” Blake said.

The biggest reason that most miss their opportunity to complete their daily balanced diet is due to their meal group priorities throughout the day. According to Blake, “The issue is that a lot of people wait until nighttime, and if you do that, it’s going to be really hard for you to have two and a half cups of vegetables at dinner … so I think that people just forget that we need to incorporate these throughout the day.”

Aside from vegetables, she stresses the importance of incorporating all five food groups throughout your day. “What we want to do is make sure that the diet is balanced,” Blake explained. “What you don’t want to do is just eat fruits and vegetables all day long, because then you don’t have a balanced diet. Ensuring that you receive protein or calcium from dairy products is key to maintaining a diet that is balanced and proportional.”

For more science-based, useful information about health and wellness, join the already 9,000 listeners of Blake’s podcast “Spot On!”

Farmers Launch New Health Advertising Campaign for Grapes

Ad Series Highlights Links Between Grapes and Healthy Heart, Brain, and Colon

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

A new ad campaign from the farmers of fresh California grapes highlights how consuming normal amounts of grapes each day may contribute to long-term health by helping to maintain a healthy heart, brain, and colon.

Reaching consumers online and through print and broadcast, the campaign revolves around a series of ads focusing on the power of the whole fruit: grapes contain more than 1,600 documented natural plant compounds, including antioxidants and other polyphenols.

Each ad highlights key research from scientific study in the area of heart, brain, and colon health. Scientists believe it is the combination of natural plant compounds and daily consumption that provides benefit.

Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president
Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president

“Consumers have always loved grapes for their great taste, convenience, share-ability, and beauty. Through this campaign, consumers will learn that the health benefits grapes provide go beyond the basics of eating a favorite fruit as part of a healthy diet,” said Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president. “It is already established that grapes are a heart-healthy food, and now research in the areas of brain and colon health is emerging that suggests that grapes may have an even broader role to play in long-term health.”

Nave noted that research into these three areas of health, and numerous others, will continue.

The campaign will run in magazines and newspapers in both print and online, on health-related websites, on television and radio, and on social media.

Bee Sweet Citrus Joins National Campaign to Support Healthy Eating

Bee Sweet Creates Everyday Healthy Eating Habits

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

For the third consecutive year, Bee Sweet Citrus is eager to help kick off the Power Your Lunchbox Promise with Produce for Kids. The Power Your Lunchbox Promise, a national campaign, aims to encourage families and their children to eat healthier lunches, afterschool snacks and everyday dinners.

“Bee Sweet Citrus is very excited to take part in such an amazing, health-oriented campaign,” said Bee Sweet Citrus Director of Communications Monique Bienvenue. “For the past five years, Produce for Kids has done an amazing job of sharing healthy tips and recipes with families and educators. We’re eager to see how our combined efforts can help encourage healthy habits at home and in the classroom.”

The Power Your Lunchbox campaign  ends on September 23rd. Throughout the campaign, families will be encouraged to take an online promise that supports healthy eating at home and at school. For every promise made, sponsors of the Power Your Lunchbox Promise will make a collective $1 donation to Feeding America programs that support families and children.

In addition to the online promotion, Produce for Kids will be marketing register dietitian-approved recipes and nutrition tips on their online and social media platforms. Supporters are encouraged to use the #PowerYourLunchbox hashtag throughout the campaign to help spread awareness on their own social media accounts as well.

“As we celebrate the 5th year of the Power Your Lunchbox Promise, and over 1 million meals donated to Feeding America through the program, we could not have made such an impact without the support of passionate partners like Bee Sweet Citrus,” said Amber Bloom, the digital marketing manager for Produce for Kids. “Together, we’re creating a healthier generation one promise, lunchbox and meal donated at a time.”

34 Healthy Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

Source: Kate Morin; greatist.com 

When it comes to breakfast, the options are endless. Pancakes or waffles? Bacon and eggs? Muffin, followed by a pastry? So why limit chowing down on delicious breakfast foods to the morning hours? Here are 34 healthier snack options to keep filling those breakfast food cravings all month long.

Better Breakfast Snacks

1. Avocado Toast With Egg 

Sometimes, simple is just better. In this recipe, 2 slices of whole-grain bread, lightly toasted, topped with smashed avocado and a sprinkling of salt and pepper makes for a flavorful and rich base. Top that with two sunny-side-up eggs for a healthy dose of protein, and you’ve got a well-rounded breakfast. Stack ’em in a tupperware container for easy transport or cook the yolks a bit more and make the whole thing into a sandwich.

2. Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie 

Smoothies are a perfect on-the-go snack any time of day. Blend 1 frozen banana, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 cup almond milk, and a few ice cubes. If this is a morning snack, keep it in a tight-sealing container and throw it in a gym or work bag. For an afternoon boost, prep it the night before and freeze, remove in the morning, and it will be thawed and ready to enjoy after lunch. Tip: Add a scoop of your favorite chocolate or vanilla protein for an extra protein boost.

3. Zapped Scrambled Eggs With Veggies 

Yes, it’s possible to make really good scrambled eggs in the microwave. And it’s easy! Beat 2 eggs, throw in a microwave-safe container, add 1 handful of your favorite veggies (cherry tomatoes and spinach leaves work well), and a sprinkle of cheese. Zap the mixture for 30 seconds, stir, and cook another 30 seconds, or until eggs are solid. Throw a top on the container to eat later, or store the raw mixture in a fridge until ready to heat and eat.

4. Fruit and Yogurt Parfait 

One of the easiest, healthiest, and tastiest breakfasts out there is a classic fruit and yogurt parfait. The best part? It can be made with any toppings you like. Try choosing fruits that are in season for the most flavorful options. (Try our stone fruit salad for summer, and opt for apples come fall).

5. Breakfast Burrito 

Who doesn’t love a burrito? Breakfast burritos are a great, easy snack to keep on hand. Scramble 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup black beans, 2 tablespoons salsa, and 2 tablespoons shredded cheese, and wrap in 1 small whole-wheat tortilla. Make a bunch, wrap in foil, and keep in the freezer for whenever the craving hits. Protein from the eggs and black beans keep you fuller longer, and the spicy salsa keeps things interesting.

6. Healthy Morning Glory Muffins 

An oat-based muffin packed with healthy carrots and zucchini, lightly sweetened with raisins and just a pinch of sugar makes a perfect breakfast or snack. Use a mini-muffin tin for smaller portions, and eliminate or cut back on the brown sugar or choose a healthier substitute to cut back on sugar.

7. Breakfast Quinoa Bites 

Here’s a new way to enjoy quinoa: make mini quinoa breakfast quiches! In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups cooked quinoa, 2 eggs, 1 cup your favorite veggies (spinach or zucchini work well), 1 cup shredded cheese, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Portion into a lightly-greased mini muffin tin, and bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. These are easy to bring along and delicious to enjoy warm or cold.

8. Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie 

Here’s a simple and delicious smoothie recipe for the morning rush. Blend 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1 cup frozen fruit (banana and berries work very well) with 1/2 cup liquid (milk, juice, coconut water—whatever you like). Freeze overnight and thaw throughout the day to enjoy in the afternoon, or blend up in the morning.

9. Leftovers n’ Egg 

Stuck with last night’s leftovers? Place a scoop of leftover roasted veggies, potatoes, or meat in a container, top with a cracked egg, and heat in the microwave until the egg white is cooked through, 30 to 45 seconds. (Or prep in the oven.) Feeling fancy? Sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

10. Fruity Breakfast Quinoa

Cooking quinoa in milk (cow, soy, or almond) and adding some sweet spices and fruit makes for a great substitute for classic hot breakfast cereals. Plus, it’s high in protein and essential amino acids like lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Simply cook quinoa according to package instructions, but substitute milk for water, and add some cinnamon or nutmeg instead of salt and pepper. Top with fresh berries and chopped roasted nuts.

11. Zucchini Bread Oatmeal 

Take a classic baked loaf and make it into oatmeal with this recipe! Adding shredded zucchini to oatmeal is a great way to fit in an extra serving of veggies. Throw on a handful of toasted walnuts or pecans for some added crunch.

12. Quinoa Fruit Salad 

Spice up a plain old fruit cup with a scoop of quinoa. Toss the whole shebang around until the quinoa is evenly distributed through the fruit. Add a scoop of plain yogurt and a drizzle of honey for a little extra body.

13. Oatmeal Squares 

Oatmeal is a great option for a hearty snack or breakfast, but what’s the best way to make it into a more convenient and portable snack? Bake it into squares!

14. Pumpkin Oatmeal Bowl 

A heaping dollop of pumpkin puree is a great way to squeeze in an extra dose of veggies. Plus, the super-orange superfood is packed with nutrients and a healthy dose of fiber. This recipe pairs the pumpkin with quick oats, pumpkin pie spice, and almond milk for a quick and easy breakfast on-the-go.

15. Ricotta and Tomato Breakfast Sandwich 

Here’s a healthier take on the classic breakfast sandwich: Take 2 slices of a hearty whole-grain bread, spread each slice with 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Add 1-2 hearty slices of fresh beefsteak tomato (blotted with paper towel to remove excess liquid) and enjoy.

16. Savory Oatmeal With an Egg 

Try taking oatmeal to a whole new level by making it savory. Prepare as usual with milk or water, but add a pinch of salt and pepper instead of any cinnamon or sugar, and top with an over-easy or poached egg. Sprinkle with a little cheese for an extra yummy kick.

17. Overnight Oats 

This is the ultimate lazy-person breakfast. The night before, combine 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1/2 a banana (mashed), 1/4 cup chopped nuts, and a sprinkle of cinnamon in sealed Tupperware container. By morning, you’ll have delicious overnight oats! These can be heated in the microwave for 1-2 minutes if in the mood for something warm.

18. Zucchini Muffins 

Any way that fits a serving of veggies into a delicious baked good is a winner in my book. These zucchini and banana muffins with flaxseed fit three healthier options into one easy-to-tote package.

19. Peanut Butter, Banana, and Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies 

Cookies for breakfast? Yes please! While Oreos or Chips Ahoy may not make a balanced breakfast, a homemade cookie made of banana, peanut butter, protein powder, and oats is a wholesome choice. Plus, you can pick and choose what you like to mix—go for almond butter and raisins in one batch, or peanut butter chocolate chip in another.

20. Waffle PBJ-Wich

Try this sweet take on a classic breakfast sandwich the next time eating on the go. Prepare 1 whole-grain toaster waffle and slice in half. Spread with 2 tablespoons nut butter and layer 2-3 sliced strawberries on top in place of the traditional jelly (to cut down on sugar).

21. Egg and Cheese Cups 

Fried eggs are great, but what about baking a whole egg with veggies and cheese and skipping the added oil? Try making a pan of these egg and cheese cups at the beginning of the week and bringing one along each day. (Tip: If you use the individual silicone muffin molds, it makes the egg cups even more portable for on-the-go snacking.)

22. Homemade Instant Oatmeal

For anyone with a microwave or hot water at their disposal, these customized instant oatmeal packets are fantastic to have on hand. Instead of purchasing pre-made oatmeal packets, assemble your own in Ziploc baggies using whole rolled oats, cinnamon, and mix-ins like raisins and nuts.

23. Frozen Nutty Banana

Say banan-YEAH to this healthy snack. Cut 1 firm (but ripe) banana in half and un-peal, arrange on a small baking sheet or freezer-safe plate, and spread each half with 1 tablespoon almond butter evenly (on the sides not touching the plate). Here’s the fun part: Stick whatever toppings you like on top of the almond butter—our favorites are granola, chia seeds, or flax seeds and cinnamon. Insert a popsicle stick or skewer into the cut end of each half, and freeze until solid (at least 2-3 hours).

24. Chocolate-Banana Breakfast Quinoa

Here’s one healthy way to have chocolate for breakfast: a bowlful of quinoa makes for a protein-rich filling breakfast, and the banana even adds a serving of fruit.

25. Fruit Soup

There are just two ingredients in this tasty, cool snack: Cold fresh fruit, and cold milk. Chop 1 cup of fruit of your choosing (peaches, plums, berries, and mango are delicious!) and combine in a container with 1 cup milk of choice. Keep chilled until ready to enjoy.

26. Apple Surprise 

This is a perfect pick for apple season, Cut 1 apple in half and remove the core (plus a bit of the extra flesh around the core). Drop 1 tablespoon nut butter between the two holes, and sprinkle in 1 tablespoon granola. Wrap up the whole apple in plastic wrap or foil to save for later, or enjoy as is bite-by-bite.

27. Egg Sandwich 

Who doesn’t love a classic egg sandwich? Simply sautée a hefty handful of spinach and fry 2 eggs with a dash of salt and pepper. Place on top 2 whole-wheat English muffin halves (or toast) with 1 slice of cheddar cheese. Wrap in foil so the cheese melts evenly, and enjoy whenever the craving hits!

28. PBB&C 

Say what? A PBB&C is a great twist on the classic PB&J—peanut butter, banana, and chia. Try adding this superfood twist to the classic PB sandwich with 1/2 a banana (sliced) and a sprinkle of chia, which is packed with vitamins and minerals (like six times more calcium than milk!).

 29. Berries and Oats Microwave Muffin 
Muffins from the microwave? Yep, it’s possible! Add 1/4 cup quick oats, 1 egg, a handful of berries, and a sprinkling of brown sugar to a mug and mix until evenly combined. Microwave on high for 1 minute, remove to take a look, and keep cooking for 30 seconds at a time until the muffin looks firm.

30. Strawberry-Banana Quinoa Muffins 

By this point, I think the Greatist team believes quinoa makes anything better. So, muffins? It’s a no brainer. Try these strawberry quinoa muffins for an easily-packed snack or breakfast (or after lunch treat).

31. Pumpkin and Granola Parfait 

This one’s perfect to try out as fall sets in. In your favorite small Tupperware container (with a reliable lid!), top plain Greek yogurt with canned pumpkin puree and a handful of granola, then sprinkle with cinnamon. The best part? Pumpkin is a bonafide superfood rich in beta carotene, which is essential for eye health.

32. Whole-Wheat Banana Blueberry Flax Muffins 

At 200 calories each, these hearty, wholesome muffins make for the perfect portable breakfast. Flax lends a healthy dose of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Mashed bananas (one of our favorite healthy baking substitutions) allow for a slight reduction in the added fat and sugar in this recipe, too.

33. Egg Muffins 

Finally, a muffin without all the carbs. Plus, these guys are simple to make. Beat 10 eggs, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 3 handfuls of spinach, 1 shredded zucchini, 1/2 a bell pepper (chopped), 4 slices cooked bacon or ham, chopped, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Divide egg mixture evenly in a lightly-greased muffin tin, and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 F. Zap it for a few seconds in the microwave before serving.

34. Lemon Poppy Seed Protein Squares 

Here’s a healthier take on the classic lemon-poppy seed muffin. Fiber-rich oat flour is paired with vanilla protein powder for a healthy, filling base. Yogurt lends moisture and some fat, and applesauce makes a great substitute for sugar. Vanilla extract, lemon zest, and (of course) make up the rest of the fresh flavor. The best part? One bar comes in at about 54 calories and six grams of protein—much better than any muffin we’ve seen on the shelves lately.

Why the Amazing Avocado will Help Curb Cravings

Source: Midge Munro; Avocado Industry Council  

Research shows adding a few slices of avocado to your lunch will slash your desire to eat over the next three hours by 40 per cent compared to eating the same meal without it.

A study, published in Nutrition Journal, focused on overweight adults to see if avocado consumption helped them feel more satisfied and reduced their desire to eat in the following few hours.

Researchers at Loma Linda University in the United States conducted randomized single-blind crossover trials where participants ate a standard breakfast followed by one of three test lunches – one without avocado, one that included avocado and one where extra avocado was added.

The volunteers’ glucose and insulin responses were measured, along with their feelings of satisfaction and desire to eat over the next five hours.

The study found those who added half a fresh avocado to their lunch reported a 40 per cent decrease in desire to eat again over the next three hours, and a 28 per cent decrease in the following five hours.

Participants also reported feeling more satisfied (26 per cent) during the course of the afternoon following their avocado lunch.

Satiety is an important factor in weight management, because people who feel satisfied are less likely to snack between meals, said Dr. Joan Sabaté, Chair of the Department of Nutrition who led the research team at Loma Linda University.

It was also noted that though adding avocados increased participants’ calorie and carbohydrate intake at lunch, there was no increase in blood sugar levels beyond what was observed after eating the standard lunch. This leads them to believe that avocado’s potential role in blood sugar management is worth further investigation.

The study was funded by the American-based Hass Avocado Board.

New Zealand Avocado CEO Jen Scoular says there are many international studies underway to uncover the health benefits of avocados.

“Other research published in Nutrition Journal found people who regularly eat avocados weigh 3.4kg less on average, and have waistlines around 4cm smaller, than those who don’t,” Scoular says.

“Avocados are rich in monounsaturated (‘good’) fats and are a low GI (glycemic index) food, so they will help you to feel fuller for longer.”

Another reason avocado will help fill you up is they are packed with fibre. Half an avocado will provide more than 25 per cent of your daily recommended fibre intake.


“They’re an absolute powerhouse when it comes to providing your body with the nutrients it needs each day. They also help your body absorb more nutrients from other fruit and vegetables you eat with avocado,” Scoular explains.

Boosting your avocado intake is easy as this home-grown fruit is extremely versatile. You can add a few slices to your favourite omelette, sandwich or salad, or eat them on toast at any time of day.

“You can also blend them into smoothies or use them as a butter and oil substitute when baking or making desserts,” she says. “Their creamy texture makes them perfect for mousses, ice cream and cheesecakes. Delicious and healthy!”

Celebrate the Holidays – the Fun and Healthy Way

By: Monique Bienvenue; Cal Ag Today Social Media Manager/Reporter

Keeping your family healthy this holiday season can be tough. With festive cakes, pastries and candy lined up in every aisle of the grocery store, it’s easy to fall off the healthy train.

Fortunately for us, MyPlate has done a fabulous job of creating a beautifully comprehensive list of ways to incorporate healthy habits into your next holiday gathering. Here are some tips that could help you coordinate a fun and healthy event for everyone!

  1. Make healthy habits part of your holiday celebration: Make activities, not food, the center of attention at your next event. This will keep your guests moving and their hands off all the snacks.
  2. Make foods look festive: Use healthy foods, such as nuts or veggies, to decorate your meals.
  3. Add a bit of “health” to your drinks: Serve fruit infused water, or make ice cubes out of juice.
  4. Savor the flavor: Instead of scarfing down a whole meal, take time to enjoy each and every bite.
  5. Incorporate MyPlate.com to make sure every food group is represented in your main dish.
  6. Make moving part of the event: Make sure the music is on and that your guests are dancing!
  7. Experiment with healthy recipes: Make healthy recipes a mandatory part of your party-planning.
  8. Make the cleaning process fun: Get the kids involved! It’ll keep the moving and it’ll help you get the job done faster.
  9. Shop smart and eat smart: Healthy food can be expensive, try to buy products that are in season and fit your budget.
  10. Be a cheerleader for healthy habits: Children are like sponges; the more they see you maintain a healthy lifestyle, the more they’re likely to do the same.

Stay healthy this holiday season; go to http://www.choosemyplate.gov recipe ideas, nutrition facts and healthy tips.