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.

 

 

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.

Jica what? Jicama!

The Fruit and Veggie On-The-Move Truck tried something different this week that was a little out of the ordinary for your normal vegetable!

This past week I served to the park kids sugar plums, grape tomatoes, baby carrots, and jicama (pronounced hic-a-ma.) Now, you probably just read that and asked yourself, “what’s a jicama?” Don’t worry because you were not the only one who questioned what a jicama was! Jicama (also called yambean) is a Mexican root vegetable that is closely related to the potato family. When all the kids saw the french fry style cut vegetable in their cups this week they all thought it was either a cheese stick or an apple slice. I had a few kids asked me if it gave them the hiccups, sorry kids but not this vegetable. The way I described this out of the ordinary vegetable was by telling the kids that it is “like a potato but taste like a less flavored apple.” There were a lot of mix reviews about the jicama, which most of the kids have never heard about, but overall kids enjoyed the refreshing taste. The other interesting item I served this week were sugar plums, and no I am not talking about the ones that dance in your head during Christmas time. These sugar plums are a fruit that are oval shape and are very very very sweet version of a normal plum. Kids went crazy over the sugar plums because they tasted like candy. This past week was a week of trying new things and I get really happy when I see kids tasting new healthy fruits and veggies and wanting more of them too!

Purple sugar plums, red grape tomatoes, orange carrots, and white jicama make for a great color scheme in the cups!

Purple sugar plums, red grape tomatoes, orange carrots, and white jicama make for a great color scheme in the cups!

A very appetizing mix of fruits and veggies!

A very appetizing mix of fruits and veggies!

Jicama is the super food of the week!!!! 

This white and starchy vegetable contains a lot of fiber that is perfect for a daily serving. This vegetable just doesn’t contain any old type of fiber though, jicama’s fiber is infused with oligofructose inulin, which has zero calories and doesn’t metabolize in the body. Jicama also contains inulin, a prebiotic, that helps allow for good bacteria growth in the intestine providing for better immunity and possibly helping against colon cancer. This Mexican root vegetable is also great for diabetics because of its very low-glycemic index. Also, if you are looking to shred a few pounds jicama is very low calorie! Lastly, jicama contains an amazing source of vitamin C, about 44% of your daily value serving. To enjoy jicama, add it to a balsamic based salad to soak up the dressing or simply just sprinkle lime juice over it and enjoy as a light snack.

Jica what? Jicama! Yummm, cut up Jicama from Wegmans!

Jica what? Jicama! Yummm, cut up Jicama from Wegmans!