Orange you glad you learned more about fruits and veggies?

As I sit in my college room this morning, realizing that summer is officially over for me and I am now entering my senior year of college, I can’t help but to think about all the opportunities I was blessed with this past year. Working for the Allentown Health Bureau as the Fruit and Veggie On-The-Move truck driver has been one of the most amazing experiences ever. This job opened my eyes up to the world of public health and made me see that change doesn’t come right away but, overtime we can work together to reach our goal.

Black apricots, baby carrots, and snap peas!

Black apricots, baby carrots, and snap peas!

This past week I gave out black velvet apricots, baby carrots, and snap peas. It amazes me how when the summer goes on that the kids start to ask for more veggies! Towards the end of the park program I had kids coming up to me asking me for more snap peas and baby carrots. Encouraging a kid to eat their veggies can be hard, especially when they are not used to seeing that certain vegetable at home. In a psychological view point, kids need to see other people eating that certain vegetable to realize that it is not “yucky.” I will see this chain reaction happen a lot at the parks. For example, I would give a kid a slice of a summer squash and he would spit it out, once another kid sees this he refuses to try the vegetable. Parents can play an important role by encouraging their child to try new things and eating different kinds of foods together.

Look how beautiful all those colors are mixed together!

Look how beautiful all those colors are mixed together!

Black Velvet Apricots

When I walked into Elias Farmers Market to get my fruit last week I was as surprised as everyone else to see black apricots for sale! Never have I heard about this delicious type of fruit, but now I am hooked to their sweet and juicy flavor. Black velvet apricots are, as you would assume, a cross between apricots and plums. The outside of this fruit looks like a plum but, when you bight into it the inside looks like the flesh of an apricot! The benefits of black velvet apricots are the same as a normal apricot. They are high in vitamin C and A and have a rich source of dietary fiber. Check out this bloggers recipe for black velvet apricot jam! It’s a great spread to put on whole wheat toast in the morning for your kids. http://foodinjars.com/2013/06/small-batch-black-velvet-apricot-jam-recipe/

Lessons with your child:

Play a non competitive game with your child to encourage fun physical activity! For example, form a circle with enough chairs for all your family members but one (this works out great if you have cousins or friends over too.) Have one child stand in the middle of the circle and make a statement. For example, everyone wearing the color red, make a move. All players who identify with the statement must move to a new chair. The person left standing has the opportunity to make a new statement. Continue the process until everyone has had the chance to be in the middle of the circle.

Thank you!

I want to take this moment to thank all the people who have supported me with this blog this past year. It was through all your encouragement that I was able to keep this going. I hope that my blog has helped many people learn more about fruits and vegetables and opened their eyes to the many things you can do to live a healthier lifestyle. Though I am sad to end my days as the Fruit and Veggie On-The-Move truck driver, I am more than blessed that I got to take part in this amazing experience. Thank you again and remember starting a healthier lifestyle today can impact your life and your child’s life for the better!

My last event as the Fruit and Veggie Lady!

My last event as the Fruit and Veggie Lady!

 

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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.

 

 

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.

Walking on sunshine!

Last week marked the beginning of the park program in Allentown and nothing made me happier than seeing the kids run up to the Fruit and Veggie On-the-Move truck! With our theme song “Walking on Sunshine” playing in the background, the kids were excited to receive their first fruit and veggie cup of the summer.

This week I gave out apricots, baby carrots, and snap peas. Last year, many of the kids did not know what an apricot was or many of them thought they were oranges. It did not come to a surprise to me this year that the same thing happened with the new playground goers but, I was impressed that many kids remembered the brightly colored orange fruit that I gave them last year. Identifying common and uncommon fruits and vegetables can be very tricky, even for some adults. Getting your child familiarized with different fruits and vegetables will help them to become more comfortable trying these foods.

The fruits and vegetables for the week! Apricots, baby carrots, and snap peas.

The fruits and vegetables for the week! Apricots, baby carrots, and snap peas.

 

Carrots!

Carrots are an awesome vegetable, they help improve vision, cleanse the body, and contain a good amount of Vitamin A that can protect the skin from sun damage. Here is a great recipe I found from Pinterest for a healthy carrot cake that you and your family will love: http://www.southerninlaw.com/2013/07/healthy-gluten-free-carrot-cake-recipe.html

This blogger took the traditional carrot cake recipe and made it healthier by adding more carrots to the recipe, using a little bit of honey instead of sugar, and using whole wheat flour (gluten free flour options are posted on the site too for those who have Celiac disease or a wheat allergy.)

Lessons with your child:

Take your child to your local library and check out a book with an important health message. Read the book together and discus with your child new things you can all do around the house to live healthier lives. A good example would be standing on one foot (switching feet every ten seconds) while brushing your teeth. This will help improve balance for you and your child.

Summer is here and fruits and vegetables are near!

After one long and horrible winter, it is great that summer finally arrived. The Allentown park program is starting up soon and with summer here, fruits and veggies are near! I’ll be back again this season working with the Fruits and Veggies On-The-Move truck, a program started by the Allentown Health Bureau four years ago to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to inner-city children in Allentown.

I was so pleased with how successful my blog was last year that I decided to start it up again this summer! I am planning on doing the same format that I did last year, for example, talk about what I delivered that week along with the children’s reactions and a special fruit or veggie of that week. This year I would like to add some great healthy recipes that I have created or found and give some ideas for fun and educational lessons that you can do with your child this summer.

Each step you make to encourage your child to eat fruits and vegetables will help them to gain lifelong habits of healthy eating! I hope that my blog will help push healthy eating for not just your child but for your entire family as well. After all, “a healthy outside starts from the inside” (Robert Urich).

Enjoy!

This is a picture of me last year ready to give out all the cups I made filled with yummy fruits and vegetables.

This is a picture of me last year ready to give out all the cups I made filled with yummy fruits and vegetables.