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March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month!
Celebrate with Apples and Put your best fork forward!
Shari Steinbach, MS RDN

10 tips for healthy living:
Healthy living doesn’t mean you have to make dramatic changes to your lifestyle. Simple, positive daily steps and decisions can add up to healthy benefits than can provide you with more energy and reduce your risk of chronic disease. Try to add in 1 or 2 healthy habits to your routine each week and you’ll be rewarded with the gift of better health!

1. Eat Breakfast – Tired of your boring breakfast. Make this easy slow cooker Apple Cobbler before bed and wake up to a delicious morning meal. Top the cobbler with Greek vanilla yogurt and you’ll have a healthful mix of fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein.

2. Banish Brown Bag Boredom – Prevent boredom at lunch with easy-to-fix, healthy lunch ideas. Try a whole-wheat pita pocket with chicken salad and diced apples or hummus with whole grain crackers, baby carrots, low fat milk and a fresh apple.

3. Half-Plate Healthy – Fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber to your plate. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and try to get a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily. Experiment with different types, including fresh, frozen and canned.

4. Make Snacks Count – Snacks should provide a healthy dose of nutrients. Include two or more of the MyPlate food groups at snack time. Veggies with cottage cheese or peanut butter with apple slices are great examples.

5. Be Active – Schedule physical activity into your family’s day. Outdoor games, walking at the park or riding bikes are fun and inexpensive ways to stay active.

6.  Start Cooking – Preparing meals at home can save money, time and families tend to eat healthier. Look on line for some simple, healthy recipes and get the family involved. Get started with this delicious Pork Burger with Sautéed Apple recipe:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhbfQ809Q1U

7. Portion Control – Get out your measuring cups and check for portion distortion. Even healthy foods can add unwanted pounds and excess calories if portions are too large. Remember that adding a high fiber, low calorie, piece of whole fruit, like an apple to your meal helps you feel satisfied.

8. Try New Foods – Add more nutrition and eating pleasure by expanding your range of food choices. When shopping, make a point of selecting a fruit, vegetable or whole grain that’s new to you or your family.

9. Family Meal Time – There are multiple benefits to sharing a meal with your family and it’s also a great opportunity to teach your children about meal planning, cooking and basic nutrition.

10. Experiment with Plant Based Meals – Expand the variety in your menus with budget-friendly meatless meals. Vegetables, beans, and lentils are all great substitutes. Try mixing together cooked lentils with a chopped Michigan apple, chopped walnuts and some diced onion. Serve over a bed of greens with a light vinaigrette and a sprinkle of blue cheese.

Resources: Eatright.org 
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.

Celebrate National Ag Day on March 21, 2017 
Enjoy Nutritious Apples – From Tree to Table

Do you know where your food comes from? Many people answer the grocery store however, the grocery store isn’t where food comes from but where it’s distributed. In reality, many people have not had the opportunity to visit a farm and are unaware of the role American agriculture plays in their daily lives, or the processes involved with getting food on their table.

Just a few generations ago, most people were a part of – and had friends or relatives involved with – agriculture. Today, that's no longer the case so we tend to forget how agriculture provides the necessities of life from fiber for clothing to food for our nourishment.

American farmers are working harder than ever, and it shows. Today, each American farmer feeds more than 144 people. And the need for food produced in the United States is dramatic. Agriculture is this nation's #1 export and is vitally important in sustaining a healthy economy.

It's easy to take agriculture for granted in America. Our food is readily accessible and safe and for this we are extremely fortunate and grateful. This March 21, 2017, is National Ag Day, hosted by the Agriculture Council of America. Ag Day is a good time to reflect and learn more about American agriculture. 

Let’s learn about what it’s like to be an apple grower with multiple generations working on the farm. Meet the Youngquist Family and find out why growing apples is their calling.  https://youtu.be/4BumoDT-wFQ

Source: The Agriculture Council of America (ACA). An organization uniquely composed of leaders in the agriculture, food and fiber communities dedicated to increasing the public awareness of agriculture's vital role in our society. The Agriculture Council of America and the National Ag Day program was started in 1973.

Enjoying Apples Year-Round!

Although harvested in the fall at their peak of goodness, you can now enjoy delicious Michigan apples any time of the year thanks to a controlled atmosphere chilling technique that keep them fresh and crisp. Here are some fun ways to enjoy apples this spring and summer:

1. Add zest to your water: Add chopped apples to a glass of sparkling water for a burst of flavor and enjoy the apples when the water is gone.

2. Make applesauce: Find your favorite chunky applesauce recipe and experiment with adding maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and/or ginger. Serve sauce warm over whole grain toaster waffles or enjoy as a snack. 

3. Blend a cool and creamy smoothie: Combine peeled apples with ice, vanilla Greek yogurt, water, and other favorite fruits.

4. Boost snack time nutrition: Serve apple slices with cinnamon-flavored peanut butter for dipping.

5. Add them to a skewer: Get out the grill and try this easy recipe that combines Michigan apples with lean turkey and tasty brussels sprouts http://serveturkey.org/recipe/turkey-tenderloin-brussels-sprouts-and-apple-shish-kabobs/

6. Dip them in chocolate: It’s the best of both worlds! Satisfy your sweet tooth while still getting the healthy apple benefits.

7. Throw them on the grill: Marinate apple slices in a honey or vanilla mixture and grill them up. They’re perfect as a side dish.

8. Add to sandwiches: Add a twist to traditional sandwiches by adding sliced apples. 

9. Munch on chips: Make a batch of homemade apple chips. Simply toss thinly sliced apples with some cinnamon and sugar. Bake slices on a metal baking sheet for 45 min. to 1 hour at 225 degrees.

10. Combine with whole grain cereal: Add diced apples to your favorite hot or cold cereal for added texture, crunch and flavor.

11. Grilled apple dessert: Brush apple slices with a bit of canola oil and cinnamon. Grill until tender and serve warm over frozen vanilla yogurt.

12. Serve up some Apple-Pork Burgers: Mix 1 pound ground pork, 1/2 pound uncased fresh breakfast sausage, 1 small grated Michigan apple, 1 grated garlic clove, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and pepper to taste. Form into four 1/2-inch-thick patties and grill over medium-high heat, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve on buns with Swiss cheese, mustard and sliced apples.

13. Apple-Cheddar Fondue: For easy entertaining – Simmer 1/8 cup each apple cider or juice and white wine. Whisk in 3/4 pound shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese tossed with 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Add 2 tablespoons applejack brandy and season with salt and pepper. Serve with cubed bread and Michigan apple slices.

14. Waldorf Salad: Toss together 1/2 cup sliced grapes, 2 chopped Michigan apples and 2 chopped celery stalks, 1/4 cup each lite mayonnaise, reduced-fat sour cream, walnuts, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and parsley to garnish.

15. Apple-Onion Bruschetta Appetizer: Cook 2 sliced onions in oil over medium heat until caramelized, 35 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons brandy and cook until evaporated. Spread on whole grain baguette slices, top with Michigan apple slices and sprinkle with grated gruyere. Broil until the cheese melts.

16. Easy Apple Cole Slaw: Add chopped Michigan apples to your favorite deli coleslaw and add a few shakes of poppy seeds.

17. Apple Quesadillas: Simply add diced or canned chicken to half of a whole grain, 8” tortilla. Add shredded Monterey Jack cheese and Michigan apple slices. Fold tortilla in half and grill in a hot skillet. Slice into wedges and serve with apple salsa

18. Chill out with Apple Blueberry Popsicles: Combine 2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries and 1-1/2 cups Michigan apple juice in the blender. When smooth pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 6 hours.

19. Tempting Tuna Apple Salad: Add chopped Michigan apples to your favorite tuna or chicken salad for added color, texture and a boost of fiber.

20. Lunch to go: Road trip? Avoid the fast food restaurants and pack fresh Michigan Apples, slices of sharp cheddar cheese and whole grain crackers for a filling and nutritious portable lunch.

Meet the Author

Shari Steinbach

Shari Steinbach, MS RDN
Shari Steinbach & Associates, LLC

For the past 26 years, Shari has worked as a dietitian in the grocery industry for two major retailers in the Midwest. In her retail roles, Shari has managed consumer health communication, health influencer partnerships, nutrition programs, and solution-selling strategies.

Shari has served as a nutrition expert and corporate spokesperson, providing food and nutrition advice through monthly television spots on ABC, NBC and FOX affiliates and local radio segments. She has also conducted numerous educational presentations to community groups and professional organizations throughout the country. Her timely nutrition and food product information and strategic social media messages have reached millions of consumers.