nutrition

Tropical Smoothie – A Healthy Recipe with Dianisi Torres

Dianisi Torres of our UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) makes a healthy tropical smoothie with you using ingredients from the Dollar Store. The presentation is in English and Spanish.

Dianisi Torres, de nuestro programa Educación Alimentaria y Nutricional Expandida de la Extension de UConn, conocido como EFNEP, hace un licuado tropical saludable con usted usando ingredientes de la tienda de Dólar. La presentación es en Inglés y Español.

 

Velazquez Answers Nutrition Questions on Radio Amor in Bridgeport

Zoraida Velazquez talks about MyPlate on Radio Love in BridgeportThe global pandemic is challenging everyone. It’s made many of us more conscience of the threats surrounding us every day. Many people are more aware of the food they eat and health impacts of their nutritional choices. Extension educator Zoraida Velazquez is answering questions for Bridgeport and residents of surrounding communities each Friday morning on Radio Amor/Radio Love 690 AM. Her nutritional advice and guidance are helping the community improve their health and wellbeing.

Zoraida joined UConn Extension in 1978. She’s an educator in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (UConn EFNEP). EFNEP helps families learn about healthy eating, shopping on a budget, cooking and physical activity. She began her career in UConn Extension’s New London County office before moving back to the New Haven County office. Zoraida grew up in New Haven and is well-known among the community.

“I’m always involved in the community because I love working with people in need,” Zoraida says. Zoraida has served as a pastor for the last 43 years, in addition to her work with EFNEP. She and her husband are currently pastors in Wallingford.

Zoraida began working with Radio Amor in 2015. She had a weekly ten-minute spot called Salud y Nutrition where she answered listeners’ questions. The station manager initiated the program with the goal of bringing services to the community.

Keyla Negron was a nutritional science in the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. She heard the program in 2016 and called our Extension office to learn more. Keyla went down to the New Haven County office during her summer break and helped Zoraida with the radio show as a volunteer. They prepared answers for each week’s questions and resources to share with listeners.

The program remained popular with listeners. Then, there were administrative changes at the station in 2017. The station discontinued Zoraida’s program, along with many others.

In January of 2020, Javier Cabrera, the new manager of Radio Amor, reached out to Zoraida. “He remembered hearing the program and told me that it was very informative to the Spanish community, and he wanted to bring back this and other programs for the listeners to benefit from,” she says. “Radio Amor is a Christian radio station, but it’s open to the community with no discrimination to color or race.”

The show quickly resumed with the first episode airing on March 6, 2020. COVID halted it for a second time. It took a couple of months, but in mid-May, Radio Amor had adjusted to the challenges created by the pandemic. Zoraida is back on the air for twenty minutes a week, answering nutrition-related questions for listeners.

“I started in March with MyPlate,” Zoraida says. “I wanted to go back to the basics with the listeners. Then we progressed into the importance of families eating together at the table, I encouraged moms to take advantage of helping their children with healthy eating.”

Other popular topics include stretching the food budget and learning what to make from products that are on hand. Zoraida recalls one person calling in to say that they used to make arroz con leche when things were tough, and white rice with just eggs because there was not enough money for other food products.

“Zoraida Velazquez has been such a blessing to Radio Amor for many years,” says Javier Cabrera, the Operations Manager at Radio Amor. “Pastor Velazquez shares very helpful and important information with our audience, educating them on how to stay healthy. Radio Amor is honored to have Pastor Velazquez as one of our educators empowering our community with the necessary resources to help them stay healthy.”

Zoraida’s 20-minute radio show is rarely long enough to answer all the questions. It regularly becomes a 45-minute segment. Zoraida stays on the air until she’s answered all of the questions.

“When I came back on air in May after the break because of coronavirus, food safety was understandably a hot topic,” Zoraida explains. “We started talking about foodborne illness. Questions I received included whether or not it was okay to leave food out, understanding what to do if there is food recall because of E. coli or salmonella. Other people wanted to know where they could go for food assistance, or how they could participate in EFNEP. Parents want to know how to get their children to eat more vegetables.”

Topics continue evolving, and Zoraida caters each program to the needs of her listeners. She did a segment on the importance of keeping the body hydrated since many of her listeners admitted that they didn’t like drinking water unless it was flavored. She’s received numerous questions about energy drinks and Zoraida encourages parents not to let their teenagers consume energy drinks because they can be harmful.

UConn Extension’s EFNEP staff work statewide to empower participants and provide knowledge and skills to improve the health of all family members. Participants learn through doing, with cooking, physical activity and supportive discussions about nutrition and healthy habits. Although in-person programming is currently limited, all our EFNEP staff continue working in their communities and serving residents.

Zoraida exemplifies the spirit of service and community assistance that the EFNEP program is known for. Zoraida and other EFNEP staff understand the needs of the communities they are serving because they live and work in these communities.

“Salud y Nutrición is one of the best segments we air weekly understanding the need of health education in our community,” Javier continues. “We want to thank UConn Extension for allowing Pastor Velazquez to share her knowledge and years of experience as a Nutrition Educator. Today, we can say that thousands of our listeners have benefited from her knowledge. Radio Love is here to help and serve our community and Pastor Velazquez has been a vessel to our community.”

Questions related to food and nutrition will continue to arise. Zoraida is ready and waiting for them each Friday morning on Radio Amor, or through another channel with UConn EFNEP. Additional resources from the EFNEP program are available at https://efnep.uconn.edu/.

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

Article by Stacey Stearns

Pizza – A Healthy Recipe with Dianisi Torres

Dianisi Torres of our UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) makes a healthy pizza with you using ingredients from the Dollar Store. The presentation is in English and Spanish.

Dianisi Torres, de nuestro programa Educación Alimentaria y Nutricional Expandida de la Extension de UConn, conocido como EFNEP, hace una pizza saludable con usted usando ingredientes de la tienda de Dólar. La presentación es en Inglés y Español.

Sugar Sweetened Beverages and You

Sugar sweetened beverages are prevalent throughout society, although they are not the best choice from a nutritional standpoint. Learn what a sugar sweetened beverage is, why they present nutritional challenges, and what are better alternatives.

Video created by Caroline Thiede, UConn Allied Health Sciences student.

 

Cows’ Milk Alternatives – What you need to know about plant–based milk alternative options

glass of milk sitting outside with grass in backgroundPeople choosing plant-based drinks in place of cows’ milk has surged over the past eight to ten years. The popularity has fueled increases in sales and there are many options to choose from in grocery and health food stores. The biggest reason many people choose plant-based drinks is that they don’t tolerate dairy or want to avoid animal products. Many people think they are just healthier options than cows’ milk. But there is confusion about what nutritional benefits plant –based drinks really offer and the differences among these choices. Soymilk, almond milk, hemp milk – which of these are nutritionally the best?

First, let’s look at what cows’ milk offers nutritionally. It is naturally rich in protein, calcium, potassium and several B vitamins and is typically fortified with Vitamins A and D. Cows’ milk does provide a superior nutritional profile when it comes to protein and calcium, in particular, in comparison to most plant-based drinks. 

Let’s look at some plant–based alternatives to milk to compare:

Soymilks:

  • These milks have about the same amount of protein as cows’ milk and if fortified, have similar amounts of vitamins and minerals.
  • Soy does contain all the essential amino acids (these proteins cannot be made by the body), but it can be a common allergen – so people may be intolerant or sensitive.
  • They can have added sugar and higher sodium, so need to check labels. Go for the unflavored, organic soymilk for choices with the least additives.
  • Soymilk is the most nutritionally balanced of the plant-based milks and is closest to cows’ milk.
  • Soy is unique in that it contains a high concentration of isoflavones (a type of plant estrogen) that is similar in function to human estrogen, but with much weaker effects. There is not substantial evidence that soy definitively increases or decreases cancer risk.

Almond milk:

  • These milks have a lower protein content and poorer protein quality than cows’ milk or soymilk.
  • Some are higher in total fat, but it is primarily healthy fat.  
  • Many are fortified with calcium and Vitamins A and D. Check labels.
  • Almond milk is not recommended for those with nut allergy or sensitivities.

Cashew milk:

  • These milks have a lower protein content and poorer protein quality than cows’ milk or soymilk; is also low in other macronutrients.
  • A good alternative to almond milk if you don’t like the almond flavor and want lower calories.
  • Not recommended for those with nut allergies or sensitivities.

Hemp milk:

  • One of the few plant-based complete proteins containing all the essential amino acids.
  • Hemp milk is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that are good for health.
  • Hemp milk is made from the hemp seeds from the hemp plant, cannabis sativa. It does not contain the psychoactive component of the Cannabis Sativa plant (used to make marijuana and CBD). 

Oat milk:

  • Oat milk has slightly more protein than many almond milks, but less than soy or cows’ milk.
  • It is higher in carbohydrates and calories and has a somewhat creamy taste.

Rice milk:

  • Calories come primarily from carbohydrates. 
  • Rice milk has a poor protein content and is low in nutrient content unless vitamins and calcium are added to it.
  • Rice milk is the least likely to trigger allergies.

Coconut milk:

  • Coconut milk has little or no protein.
  • These milks are high in saturated fat, which can raise the risk of heart disease.
  • All are fortified with Vitamin D, but few with calcium.
  • Many people with tree nut allergies are able to drink coconut milk – but it is important to test for coconut allergy specifically.

The Environmental Footprint:

Many people are choosing plant-based beverages to reduce the environmental impact. They can be healthier choices for the planet; however; drawing firm conclusions from studies can be challenging. A 2018 study from the University of Oxford, found that dairy milk uses nine times more land to make a liter of dairy milk than a liter of soy, oat, or almond milk. Greenhouse gas emissions from cows’ milk production were also much higher than plant-based alternatives.  

However; plant–based options can also have environmental impacts. Almond milk, for example requires large quantities of water for irrigation to produce. Additionally, these products are transported long distances to retail stores, such as almond products produced in California. Rice emits large amounts of greenhouse gases from the methane that bacteria create in flooded rice paddies. Soy and oat production can lead to high land use and perhaps deforestation. No matter what type of plant-based milk you buy, choose organic to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides. Shifting to plant-based choices is a generally good environmentally sustainable idea to wean away from dependence on meat and dairy.

Conclusion:

All milk and plant-based milk alternatives offer various health advantages.  A good strategy may be to mix up the types of milk you drink. That way, you can get the best of each of them.  Remember to check the labels for ingredients like added sugar or unwanted additives to avoid those with undesirable add-ins. And choose milks with better protein and nutrient profiles. Knowing the difference in these milks will allow an informed decision regarding your nutrition and health. 

Article by Sharon Gray, UConn Extension

Updated May 19, 2020

References:

Almond, oat and soymilk. Consumer Reports  www.cr.org November 2019 p.33-35.

Going nuts about milk?  S. Ferreira January 25,2019  https://nutrition.org/going-nuts-about-milk-heres-what- you-need-to-know-about-plant-based-milk-alternatives

Reducing Food’s Environmental Impacts Through Producers and Consumers, J. Poore & T. Nemecek Science 01, Jun 2018: Vol 360, Issue 6392, DOI: 10.1126/Science.aaq0216

Healthy Family Connecticut

family in front of a houseInterested in more nutrition information for you and your family? The Healthy Family Connecticut
website from the UConn Department of Allied Health Sciences offers many science-based and
nutrition resources for you and your family to stay healthy that are offered in both English and
Spanish. Resources are offered for Parents of Toddlers, Preschool Aged Children, Middle-
School Aged Children, and more!
There are flyers, videos, and even a fun game available for the whole family to enjoy. Some of
the information provided includes:
● Eat the Rainbow
● Sugar Sweetened Beverages and You
● Snack Recipes
● Sippy Cup Use
● Physical Activity
● Reducing Screen Time
● Sleep
● Making Less Waste
The website and resources are made possible through three grants, the Child Health and
Development Institute of Connecticut, Hatch Funding from the Storrs Agricultural Experiment
Station in the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, and the SNAP-Ed
Program. The SNAP-Ed Program based in the UConn Department of Allied Health Sciences
reaches thousands of participants through educational nutrition sessions for people of all
different ages. These educational sessions focused on increasing consumption of fruits and
vegetables, low-fat dairy, and whole grains, while decreasing consumption of sugar sweetened
beverages. Other program goals are increasing physical activity, offering cooking
demonstrations, and more. More information on our program can be found on the website:
https://healthyfamilyct.cahnr.uconn.edu/.
The SNAP-Ed program is also part of UConn CAHNR Extension. Extension has more than 100
years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs
address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:
● Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
● Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
● Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
● Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.
Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of
Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

Learn more at:

https://healthyfamilyct.cahnr.uconn.edu/.

Make Your Own Energy Trail Mix

trail mix

Check out this awesome recipe shared by our UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program- EFNEP Educator Erica!

Energy Trail Mix
Many prepackaged trail mixes are very expensive, plus they might have extra added sugar or salt that you don’t need. You may never buy a bagged trail mix again after you try our recipe! We’ve also got Sweet and Salty Trail Mix you should try too!

Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts, chopped
¾ cup pumpkin seeds
¾ cup sunflower seeds
1½ cups Chex cereal
1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions
Mix apricots, cranberries, walnuts, seeds, and cereal in a bowl.
Sprinkle some of the cinnamon and stir. Repeat until all is covered.
​Divide trail mix into 8 baggies.

Read more at https://www.snap4ct.org/energy-trail-mix.html

Ask UConn Extension Your Questions

Indu
Indu Upadhyaya, Food Safety Assistant Extension Educator. Photo: Kevin Noonan

UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. We are proud to serve all 169 cities and towns in Connecticut. The worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 (coronavirus) has produced unprecedented challenges in the UConn community and around the world. Our services continue during this challenging time.

We are still delivering the science-based information you need. We are ready to answer your questions. Consult with us by email or on the phone. All of our educators are working and ready to serve you. Ask us a question online.

We are developing virtual programs to offset canceled in-person learning Abby Beissingeropportunities. Our educators are writing and updating fact sheets and other information. You have access to educational materials on our YouTube channel. We are growing our suite of online resources every day to meet the needs of our communities and stakeholders.

UConn CAHNR Extension educators have curated resources related to COVID-19 for our statewide audiences, including families, businesses, and agricultural producers.

Resources for all audiences includes:

  • Food safety and cooking
  • Hand washing and sanitizers
  • Infection prevention
  • Financial advice
  • Listings of open farms/farmers’ markets and school emergency meal distribution

Parents and families with children out of school can use the resources from our UConn 4-H program to provide new educational activities for youth. Activities available will keep youth engaged and learning and are appropriate for a variety of age groups.

Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy
Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy.

A list of resources has been collected for Connecticut businesses. It is a clearinghouse of resources, and not an official site. Business owners can connect to the state resources we provide for official and legal advice.

Agricultural producers are still working on farms, in greenhouses and along the coast in Long Island Sound during the COVID-19 outbreak. Extension educators have developed resources for specific agricultural sectors, including fruit and vegetable farms, aquaculture, and nursery and landscape professionals. Links to important updates from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture also are available.

Our Extension educators are updating and adding resources regularly. Please visit http://bit.ly/COVID-19-Extension.

We are also ready to answer your other questions, including:

  • How do I get my water tested?
  • What is wrong with my plant?
  • Can I eat healthy on a budget?
  • How does my son/daughter join 4-H?

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

We are here. We are ready to serve you.

 

Rooting for Root Vegetables

illustration of root vegetables with the text root recipes under it

We’re rooting for winter with root recipes from our Put Local On Your Tray program. Visit https://putlocalonyourtray.uconn.edu/root-recipes/ to find some warm, filling and nutritious ideas for how to cook carrots, parsnips, beets, radish, or another root vegetable.