Boobies, babies, fruits, and veggies: start nutrition right!

A healthy lifestyle for your child should begin from the very start of life! Breastfeeding is not just the ideal but, the best way to start feeding your child from the very second they are born. According to the Lehigh Valley Breastfeeding Coalition, consisting of lactation consultants and counselors, nurses, public health nutritionists, and mothers, breast milk should be the first form of nutrition a baby needs. This week the Fruit and Veggie On-The-Move Truck collaborated with the Lehigh Valley Breastfeeding Coalition at the Big Latch to promote a healthy lifestyle from the start.

Alexandra Sodl, RD, LDN (The person I work closely with and the original fruit and veggie lady) and I at the Big Latch this past weekend.

Alexandra Sodl, RD, LDN (The person I work closely with and the original fruit and veggie lady) and I at the Big Latch this past weekend.

Plums and peppers were the fruit and veggie choice of the week for the park program kids. I could not believe how many children did not know what plums were or have never eaten one before. At one park with a total of 37 children, at least 10 of them never ate a plum before. This was very heartbreaking to me because plums generally are not expensive summer fruit. Also, more than half the children I gave plums to this week thought they were apples instead. The colored bell peppers that we gave to the kids went well despite problems last year with many kids thinking they were all spicy. I can not stress more to families how important it is to educate your child on different types of fruits and veggies from the beginning, just as important as breastfeeding. (Shout out to my mommy, an internationally board lactation consultant who breastfed me and introduced me to the wonderful world of fruits and veggies) Introducing your child to a wide range of different fruits and veggies will help them to eat healthier and continue to throughout their life.

plum and peppers

Colored Bell Peppers

I love bell peppers because they are a great veggie to add to a lot of meals. According to livestrong.com, bell peppers add more than color and crunch to meals, they are high in vitamin A and C and also contain folate, which supports the functioning of red blood cells and is especially important for pregnant women because it helps prevent certain types of birth defects in unborn children. Many of my college roommates know, I love to cook chicken fajitas, especially because of all the colored bell peppers I use! I take the peppers, cut them in strips, then sauté them with a little bit of olive oil, purple onions, salt, and pepper. After I sauté the peppers and onions together I make some chicken and mix the two items together to make a delicious dish that can be eaten alone or with some rice and whole wheat wraps. Try it one night with your family for a Mexican theme night, I guarantee you that it will be a big hit!

Colored Bell Peppers!

Colored Bell Peppers!

Lessons with your child:

Make faces out of fruits and vegetables and have your child name each food along with what part of the face it is. For example, use grapes for the eyes and a pepper slice for the mouth. Try and use different types of fruits and veggies to familiarize your child to a variety of foods.

 

 

Eat the rainbow, taste the rainbow

When it comes to starting a healthy lifestyle, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is a great way to start. Colorful fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals your body needs for a variety of things. For example, reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer. So put those skittles down! The new saying is: “eat the rainbow, taste the rainbow…fruits and vegetables! ”

This week we wanted to really introduce a colorful diet to the kids so we gave out, red cherries, orange baby carrots, and green snap peas. The cups looked beautiful with all the colors mixed together! The children really enjoyed all the fruits and vegetables this week and this was the first time that I only got one or two complaints from the kids on what they were getting. I always have those one or two kids that are afraid to try the fruit or vegetable of the week but, I always can convince them to at least take a bite. With their 8 oz. water bottles in hand (each kid gets one for free every week courtesy of Nestle) and their fruit and veggie cup in the other, it was a great site to see all the kids sit down in the shade to enjoy their “taste of the rainbow.”

A fully loaded truck!

A fully loaded truck!

Cherries!

According to EatingWell.com, cherries contain a good amount of potassium which helps ease muscle soreness and lower blood pressure. Also, sweet cherries are rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, anthocyanins (remember these were in blueberries) and quercetin, which may work together synergistically to fight cancer, how awesome?! It is really easy to incorporate cherries into your diet. I like to add them to my smoothies and salads. Check out this delicious and simple smoothie recipe that this blogger created on their website called “Simple Daily Recipes:” http://simpledailyrecipes.com/97256/cashew-smoothie-with-spinach-and-cherries/ This blogger took an interesting combination of healthy foods to create a tasty treat!

Lessons with your child:

For dessert one night on a rainy day, make fruit kabobs! Buy skewers and red, orange, yellow, green, blue/indigo, and violet fruits. Cut them up into small pieces and place them in that color order on the sticks, to resemble a rainbow. Teach your child about the color spectrum, how healthy it is to eat colorful fruits and veggies. Your child will love to make an artsy dessert that tastes sweet along with learning about the rainbow. Maybe you will be lucky enough to catch a beautiful rainbow outside!

Taken from Happy Home Fairy wordpress. com blogger

Taken from Happy Home Fairy wordpress. com blogger

 

 

Squash the heat with a berry good treat!

Summer is a great time to get a different variety of fruits and vegetables, especially refreshing ones. So “squash” the heat for a “berry” good treat during this time of year!

Strawberries and summer squash!

Strawberries and summer squash!

This week, the fruit and veggie on-the-move truck gave out strawberries, blueberries, and green and yellow summer squash. All great and tasty summer fruits and vegetables (well technically all fruit because squash is considered a fruit in nature,) these foods can be quite refreshing and delicious during the summer time. I enjoyed hearing the reactions from the kids when they saw the yellow and green squash: “is that a lemon?” “are we allowed to eat that?” Though the yellow squash did look like a lemon from far away, I did chuckle when the kids asked me if they could eat the yellow and green thing. One aspect that I love about my job is that we introduce a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to the kids raw. This is a great idea because when they later try it cooked, steamed, or mixed in with other foods then they will grow to love it better.

Strawberries, blueberries, and green and yellow summer squash

Strawberries, blueberries, and green and yellow summer squash

Summer Squash!

According to fullcircle.com “Summer squash is a rich source of Vitamin A and C, magnesium, fiber, folate, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium and Vitamin B6. In addition, it is high in manganese, a mineral which helps the body process fats, carbohydrates, and glucose.” I love to add squash to meals to turn them from ordinary to extraordinary. For example, adding squash to over-baked mac and cheese gives the dish an extra nutritious kick. In the summer, these vegetables are great on the grill and take little effort to make. Just add a dab of salt with some herbs like basil or oregano and BAM, you have a tasty and healthy side to go with any meal.

Lessons with your child:

Go to your local nursery or store with your child and buy seeds of fruits and vegetables to plant with them. Show your child how plants grow by the putting seeds into a small pot, watering them, and watching them sprout. To do this, make sure you put the plant in a plastic bag so that you will be able to see the roots grow. Your child will be able to see the daily progress of their plant and then they can transfer their projects outdoors. Once the plant is fully developed, your child will be able to eat their healthy creation. This is another fun way to teach your child to eat healthy!

 

 

Cool as a cucumber

With the summer days getting hotter and the sun shining brighter, it is best to stay “cool as a cucumber” to enjoy this lovely time of year.

"Cool as a cucumber"

“Cool as a cucumber”

This week the fruit and veggie on-the-move truck gave out grapes and cucumbers to the park children. Just like last year, the kids were super excited to get a cup full of grapes! The children were also excited for the cucumbers as well, which they asked for multiple of times. Still, identifying cucumbers (a common vegetable) was tricky for some of the new playground kids. It was very funny though to hear some children ask if they can put them on their eyes, it is crazy what kids learn by observing other people.

Grapes and cucumbers packed in a full trunk!

Grapes and cucumbers packed in a full trunk!

Cucumbers!

Eating cucumbers are a great way to re-hydrate and replenish your body (hence the term “cool as a cucumber.”) According to NaturalNews.com, Cucumbers are 95 percent water, keeping the body hydrated while helping the body eliminate toxins.They also have a lot of vitamins that the body needs in a single day, talk about vegetable super powers! The skin also has amazing benefits because it contains a good amount of vitamin C as well, about 10 percent of the daily recommended allowance. It is very important to stay well hydrated throughout the hot summer. Make sure your child is drinking the right kinds of fluids. Liquids such as soda, non-100% fruit juices, and sugary sports drinks are not good to give your child. Your child should be drinking 6-8 cups of water a day while parents should drink about 8-12.  Examples of good hydrating liquids are: water, water with fruits or vegetables, 100% fruit juices, and 100% fruit and vegetable smoothies. Try making this drink for the summer that I found from another blogger with cucumbers: http://dinedashdeadlift.com/2012/06/25/diy-flavored-waters-cucumber-pear-mint-and-lemon-raspberry/

Lessons with your child: 

Have a car wash with your child. It will be a good way to get your child moving, cool them off, and talk about different types of vehicles. While washing your car, discuss with your child the different types of cars and transportation there are. Talk about the different noises they make along with how it will take you from place to place. For example, you would use a car for a short trip, a plane for a long trip, and a boat if you are out at sea. Your child will enjoy cooling off from the car wash and talking about the different types of transportation.

 

 

 

Three cheers for the red, white, and blue

Ah! Red, white, and blue, the three colors that represent the land of the free and the home of the brave. Ironically, they are also the colors that represent cherry tomatoes (red,) jicama (white,) and blueberries (blue.)

Red, white, and blue fruits and vegetables.

Red, white, and blue fruits and vegetables for the 4th of July

What better theme for the Fruit and Veggie On-the-Move truck to have this past week for the kids other than an American one? This past week I gave the children at the parks cherry tomatoes, jicama, and blueberries to represent our Country’s three colors: red, white, and blue for the 4th of July. Because what’s better than teaching the kids about health and history combined? It was great to see the kids reactions to the color schemes this week but, it was even better to see how many kids remembered what jicama was. If you read my blog before you could maybe recall that jicama is a Mexican root vegetable that is crunchy and almost tastes like a less-flavored apple. A lot of the children could recall the color and taste of this unique vegetable which they all enjoyed. Mostly, the kids were going crazy over the blueberries. A lot of them even came up to me to ask if they were healthy for them too. Well kids I have great news for you, they are really healthy for you!

photo 3 (8)

Blueberries!

Blueberries

Blueberries are indeed healthy for everyone, especially for diabetics! Blueberries are actually one of the few fruits that are beneficial for people with diabetes. According to DiabeticLivingOnline.com, one of the specific types of antioxidants found in blueberries are anthocyanins. Recent research links eating foods rich in anthocyanins with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Though found mainly in adults, type 2 diabetes in children is surprisingly on the rise. I love to add blueberries to my salads, they are quick, easy to wash, and delicious. Try this refreshing salad I made over the summer, It has blueberries, spinach, almonds, dried dates, jicama, and grilled chicken, all with a raspberry vinaigrette.

Yumm!!

Yumm!!

Lessons with your child:

Pick a night for dinner and designate it as salad night. Take your child to the grocery store with you and have them pick out all the veggies or fruits they would like to put together in a salad. Try and have them start with a green base, for example, a arugula, spinach, iceberg lettuce, etc. Then add a protein, either chicken, tofu, fish, etc. Your child will enjoy making their own masterpiece and it will be something that their taste buds will enjoy.

Oh Snap! The end of the summer has arrived!

The summer has finally come to an end for the Fruit and Veggie On-The-Move Truck! For the last week of the summer program we tried to bring back some of the favorite fruits and veggies for the park program children.

This past week we served strawberries, apricots, baby carrots, snap peas, and cucumbers. We wanted to serve the favorite fruits and veggies to the kids, especially the ones that the kids grown to love like snap peas. The park children were upset to see that this was the last week of camp and the last week that they will be receiving some tasty summer fruits and veggies. Being the fruit and vegetable lady this summer really opened my eyes to what was really occurring with inner-city kids through a health and physical fitness aspect of their lives. A lot of these kids do not have access to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily nor do they get more than a few minutes of physical fitness activity a day! Childhood obesity is a scary epidemic and it can be easily stopped by making healthier choices for your kids and encouraging them to enjoy about sixty minutes of physical activity a day. I must say I was very lucky to have an amazing job this summer working at the Allentown Health Bureau and I gained a lot of knowledge in the area of public health. I am also blessed that I have parents who encouraged me to eat my fruits and vegetables daily along with pushing me to enjoy more than sixty minutes of physical activity a day. As a young girl I began my life with a great foundation of healthy habits that allowed me to become the healthy 20 year old girl that I am today. It is easy to start your kids on a great healthy kick today that will impact their life for the better!

Strawberries, baby carrots, and cucumbers on a nice sunny day!

Strawberries, baby carrots, snap peas, and cucumbers on a nice sunny day!

Apricots, baby carrots, and cucumbers are a great refreshing combination!

Apricots, baby carrots, and cucumbers are a great refreshing combination!

Oh Snap! Sugar Snap peas are the Super food of the week! 

Sugar snap peas, a great source of fiber, folate, and iron, are a green vegetable with little peas inside of them. These tasty and healthy treats are great for warding off those unwanted summer colds because they have 14% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. Sugar snap peas also have vitamin K which help with bone health because this vitamin is responsible for helping your body use calcium correctly. These cute little pea pods also contain a lot of other vital nutrients like riboflavin, thiamin, manganese, and potassium. This vegetable is best enjoyed in salads, many dinner dishes like stir fry, or just simply by itself as a light and refreshing snack!

Sugar Snap Peas!! A nice serving that will help save  you from those unwanted summer colds!

Sugar Snap Peas!! A nice serving that will help save you from those unwanted summer colds!

That is it for Ronya Nassar’s Healthy Summer Adventures! Thank you all for your support in my blog and I hope everyone has a great rest of their summer. Stay tune for next summer as the City of Allentown’s Fruit and Veggie On-The-Move Truck will be riding around again delivering fresh fruits and veggies to the park and school-ground kids. In the meantime, make sure you keep eating your fruits and veggies!

-Ronya Nassar

Myself posing with the City of Allentown's Fruit and Veggie On-The-Move Truck!

Myself posing with the City of Allentown’s Fruit and Veggie On-The-Move Truck!

A berry rainy week!

It was a very rainy week for the Fruit and Veggie On-The-Move Truck! Though it was very short, we still made sure that the kids got their healthy kick for the week.

This week is the second to last week I will be delivering fruits and veggies to the park program kids. We served strawberries, cherries, cucumbers, and baby carrots this time to the children. Every week, kids embrace the different types of fruits and veggies we provide for them. Cucumbers were the veggie of the week that kids grew to like after I served them. It is great that I get the opportunity to serve these healthy fruits and vegetables to these kids because I am teaching them to enjoy foods that are good for them. Especially because these kids are outside a lot and moving around, giving them a small serving of fruits and veggies allows them to get all natural energy that will keep them moving all day.

Cherries, baby carrots, and cucumbers. All such pretty colors together!

Cherries, baby carrots, and cucumbers. All such pretty colors together!

Strawberries, baby carrots, and cucumbers. A lovely combo of fruits and veggies!

Strawberries, baby carrots, and cucumbers. A lovely combo of fruits and veggies!

Cucumbers: The Superfood of the week! 

Cucumbers have many health benefits beyond belief! First and foremost cucumbers are a great source of vitamin B. Made up of 95% water, this green vegetable is great for replenishing the body. This means that cucumbers are great for hydrating the body while helping to release toxins. Instead of giving your kids soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, add cucumbers to water in a mason jar with some extra added fruit for a great summer drink that kids will love. Surprisingly, this vegetable contains special phytochemicals that can help relieve bad breath. So take a cucumber and hold it to the roof of your mouth for 30 seconds to get quick refreshing breath. Lastly, this fourth most cultivated vegetable in the world, can help promote joint health, relieve gout, and arthritis pain because it contains an excellent source of silica which helps with joining connective tissue in the body. Try mixing cucumbers with carrot juice for ultimate gout and arthritis relief. Cucumbers are found during all seasons so you can enjoy this refreshing vegetable year round. Mix cucumbers with some Greek yogurt for a great protein pick me up, add it to a salad for extra vitamins, or put some in your sandwich for an extra healthy twist.

Cucumbers can help relieve bad breath! Press them to the roof of your mouth for instant refreshing breath.

Cucumbers can help relieve bad breath! Press them to the roof of your mouth for instant refreshing breath.