Monday, April 25, 2016

April 25-29: Every Kid Healthy™ Week

Action for Healthy Kids® fights childhood obesity, undernourishment and physical inactivity by helping schools become healthier places so kids can live healthier lives. They partner with a legion of dedicated volunteers -- teachers, students, moms, dads, school wellness experts and more - from within the ranks of our 100,000+ network to create healthful school changes. After all, everyone has a part to play in ending the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic.


Action for Healthy Kids® efforts are supported by a collaboration of more than 75 organizations, corporations and government agencies. Working together, we’re giving kids the keys to health and academic success by meeting them where they are -- in the classroom, in the cafeteria and on the playground -- with fun physical activity and nutrition lessons and changes that make it possible for them to eat nutritiously and play actively every day.

The mission of  Every Kid Healthy™ Week is to mobilize school professionals, families and communities to take actions that lead to healthy eating, physical activity and healthier schools where kids thrive.

Action for Healthy Kids' 2013-2016 strategic goal is to direct all efforts towards ensuring all U.S. schools provide healthy foods, quality health and physical education, and comprehensive physical activity for all students by 2030. They are making healthy kids a national priority by developing effective plans to implement district wellness policies, health programs and practices, and school-family-community partnerships. These three components will work together to drive transformative change in health policies, systems and environments. By taking greater action today, we can prevent our children from becoming obese adults counted among the millions with preventable chronic diseases. 


History

Created in 2002 in response to 16th U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher’s public call to action, Action for Healthy Kids works with schools to fight the national epidemic of childhood obesity and poor health.

Since its founding, Action for Healthy Kids and its 75+ partner organizations have turned the spotlight on the childhood obesity crisis so it’s now widely acknowledged as a top priority by health and public health professionals, government leaders, school systems and the popular media -- galvanizing invaluable support from a wide range of constituencies.

Today, Action for Healthy Kids is a leader in this national movement to improve child health, working at the federal and state levels and in school districts and school buildings nationwide.


Lights, Camera, Breakfast Video Contest 2nd-place winner


Commitment to Change

Commitment to Change provides parents, educators, school administrators and school health volunteers with a blueprint to transform schools into healthier environments for kids by:
* Ensuring that every school is guided by a regularly updated wellness policy
* Providing all students, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, with culturally-sensitive physical activity and healthy eating educational programs
* Ensuring children and adolescents get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily
* Making sur
e that all school foods meet the nutrition standards promoted in Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Accomplishments
* During the 2013–2014 school year Action for Healthy Kids worked hard to bring physical activity and nutrition lessons, programs and grants to more than 29,000 schools and their 12.8 million students.

*Our ranks of volunteers have grown from fewer than 700 in 2002 to more than 80,000 (and still growing) in 2014.

*We have a powerful partner network of more than 75 national organizations and associations representing leaders in health, education, nutrition, fitness, business, government agencies and other organizations that serve and care about youth.

*We continue to develop and refine a portfolio of programs and services to meet the growing need. These range from school nutrition and physical activity programs to expert coaching on how to develop, implement and evaluate a school wellness policy or action plan.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Edible Flowers by Guest Blogger: Brittaney Bialas, MS, RD


Spring is a warm, bright, and sunny time of year when you may schedule time for outdoor picnics at local parks and beaches. While you are at it, you might as well pencil in some time to brighten up your herb or vegetable garden with some tasty flowers – edible flowers, that is! 

You may have seen floral garnishes adorning fancy meals or flashy desserts; but you may not know that you can eat many of these flowers fresh from the plant after rinsing. Edible flowers can be cooked like a vegetable, sprinkled on top of a favorite dish, used to make soups and sauces, or stuffed and sautéed as a main part of a recipe. They can be made into vinegar, syrups, butters, and jellies, or used in custards, sorbets, and other desserts. They can also be frozen into ice cubes to add extra excitement to an otherwise boring beverage on a hot day. Now is the time of year when many edible flowers are in peak bloom. They may even be in your garden already - just waiting to be added to your next dish!




Some of the edible flowers that may be in your backyard or vases include pansies, violas, chrysanthemums, carnations, fuchsias, geraniums, jasmine, lavender, violets, and certain roses. Flavors range from sweet and honey-like to spicy and peppery, while scents can add a floral aroma or a citrusy tang. Nasturtiums are a popular edible flower that adds a spicy, peppery kick. The purple flowers of banana trees and blossoms of citrus trees (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, kumquat) are edible fruit flowers that may be in your back yard. Many herb flowers, including alliums (garlic, chives, leeks), cilantro/coriander, chicory, dill, mint, sage, and thyme are also safe to eat. Most of the flavors of herbal flowers resemble those of the herbs they come from. These can be added to a dish along with or in place of the herb itself. Several vegetable flowers probably already make a regular appearance in your diet, such as cauliflower (who would have thought?), broccoli, and artichoke, which are all flower blossoms. In addition, the flowers of arugula, okra, radishes, peas, and squash are edible. Squash blossoms appear quite often in the produce stands and taste a bit like the raw gourd from which it came.

Best of all, many edible flowers have vitamin C, vitamin A, and other beneficial essential nutrients. Edible flowers can replace sodium and sugar when used in conjunction with herbs and spices, adding more flavor and aroma to foods. However, keep in mind that edible flowers have a delicate taste that is detected best when added to simple dishes that do not have overpowering flavors.




Many flowers can be safely tossed onto our plates; but there are flowers that are poisonous and should never be eaten. Always make sure a flower is edible before adding it to your food. Some resources that list some edible flowers are at Colorado State Extension  and North Carolina State University. In general, edible flowers are best when they are picked during the morning when they have the most moisture. They can be rinsed and placed in a moist paper towel in the refrigerator for storage. Use within a short period to maintain quality.

There are also some safety rules to follow regarding where you find your edible flowers. Do not pick flowers from the side of the road where fumes from vehicles and other contaminants can make the plants unsafe to eat. Do not purchase edible flowers from nurseries or garden centers unless they are grown specifically for consumption. Do consume edible flowers that you have grown from seeds as long as you do not use pesticides or other chemicals. Do introduce small amounts of new flowers one at a time since pollen from the plants may trigger allergies. Do research which parts should and should not be used since each type of edible flower is different.

Flowers are nice to have. Their colors brighten a room, they give off a pleasing aroma, and they bring joy to people who take the time to notice them.

However, one of the most exciting reasons for dietitians to love flowers is that they may be food! Spring is the perfect time to try something new and let an edible flower be a part of your dining room table – and not just as an accent piece in a vase! 


Pansy Herb Salad 
4 cups mixed greens 
1/4 cup fresh sprigs of dill 
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves 
4 large basil leaves, rolled up and thinly sliced crosswise 
1 large lemon, halved 
Pinch of salt 
Fresh ground black pepper to taste 
1 /2 cup toasted walnuts 
3/4 cup crumbled feta 
1 cup fresh pansy flowers 

Toss salad greens and herbs in a large bowl. Squeeze lemon juice (without the seeds) over the greens and season with salt and pepper. Toss again. Add walnuts and feta and toss well. Divide salad and pansies among four serving plates and serve.

Nutrition Fact Per Serving (Serves 4)
Calories: 179; Fat: 16g; Carbohydrate: 5g. Adapted from Pansy Herb Salad





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