“The class was great, complete information, I liked it and learned a lot about food, hygiene, and sugary drinks. The drink class was very informative! Thank you to both educators and the translator. We really appreciated the materials and utensils.”
“I looked forward to this class each week, you have been part of our home the past 5 weeks.”
“I didn’t like cooking before but I do now. I have tried the recipes and my family enjoys them. These last 12 months have been so hard. I never thought being on the computer would bring me joy.”
“When I made the lentil burgers I thought they would taste disgusting, but I tried them and they were SO good!”
We love the wonderful feedback. Congratulations graduates!
“Fue de mucha ayuda y ahora lo pongo en práctica. Me ayudo mucho a comer más saludable y a gastar menos dinero comprando comida en ofertas.”
“Tratare de integrar a mis comidas todos los consejos que aprendi en esta clase ya que son muy productivos. Gracias por compartir con nosotras todos sus conocimentos de cocina.”
“Me fijaré más en la lista de nutrición de los productos, para controlar en no exceder en los valores diarios, tratar de poner en práctica las recomendaciones de relajación para cuando tenga mucha presión en mis tareas diarias, consumir comida más sana de manera divertida para mis niños.”
Some words shared by Danbury Head Start parents after completing their EFNEP course.
March is National Nutrition Month! This past year has proven that nutrition and health are more important to all of us than ever. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is UConn Extension’s outreach nutrition program in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR). Since EFNEP’s inception as a USDA demonstration program in 1968, community educators work with low-income, limited resource families with children to learn how to food shop, prepare and eat more healthily as well as increase physical activity.
National Nutrition Month is a natural connection for EFNEP’s year round healthy lifestyle education. Designated in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this promotion began as a weeklong campaign to promote the profession as well as to communicate nutrition messages to the public. As a result of growing consumer interest, there was a transition to month long event in 1980. Each year a theme is chosen to embody health through nutrition and physical activity.
This year’s theme is Personalize Your Plate because everyone is unique in regard to body type, goals, cultural background, taste preferences and experiences. During this unprecedented past year, EFNEP has pivoted along with the rest of the world to social media for connection and engagement with friends, family and acquaintances. Through the EFNEP Facebook page and Extension Instagram and website, messages have included recipes, video short talks and cooking demonstrations to highlight how to Personalize Your Plate. Join us on social media and our websites to learn more about nutrition and healthy lifestyle education.
Do you have a current/past position with the CT AND Board?
I have been many positions on the CT AND board but currently I am the Food Security and Sustainability Co-Chair.
What inspired you to become a RDN?
My first year at UConn I found the course ‘The Science of Food’ fascinating and was inspired to take more classes in Nutritional Sciences. I have had an interest in food and cooking from a young age. In fact, my mom taught after school cooking programs for elementary age students and I was her assistant.
Where do you work now and where have you worked in the past?
I currently work as an Assistant Extension Educator at the University of Connecticut based out of the Fairfield County Extension office. I have been faculty at UConn since 2008, first working in the Department of Allied Health Sciences as a community nutrition preceptor (2008-2012) and then transferred to my current role and office in Bethel, CT (2012-current) as my husband and I settled in nearby Brookfield and started our family. I also worked part-time as an outpatient dietitian at Community Health Center, Inc. covering Danbury, Norwalk and Stamford locations 2012-2018.
What is your favorite recipe/food?
I could never pick just one! I love cooking and have many favorites. I especially enjoy sharing recipes with friends and clients that are delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare.
How is food related to your culture?
My parents and grandparents valued food and its origin. My grandparents on my fathers side were farmers and very much connected to the land. My grandfather grew up on a dairy farm, Quinnequack Farm in Northeast Connecticut and my grandmother as the daughter of a dairy owner, Arrow Lakes Dairy in Cranston, RI. My grandparents on my mothers side were avid gardeners and wonderful cooks. Growing up my parents and grandparents shared many stories and recipes that had been passed down to them.
General tip for improving diet?
Make half your plate fruits and veggies! I am always sure to share this simple tip in presentations as it can easily shift one’s diet in a more healthful direction.
If stranded on island-what one food or beverage you would want an unlimited supply of?
What is the best part of your job?
I love my job because each day is different. At times I am working on research projects or writing grants, other times I am connecting with community partners such as emergency food sites or I might be in the field giving presentations or attending health fairs. No two days look alike.
How has Covid-19 changed the way that you do your job?
The majority of my work has shifted to telecommuting, spending much of my day in virtual meetings or chatting with colleagues on Microsoft teams. My nutrition presentations and class series have transitioned to a virtual format. Also all data collection tools that were traditionally pen and paper have been transitioned to online survey formats. It is certainly different but I am still doing what I love.
Where do you want to see the RDN/NDTR profession in 10 years?
I would love to see RDNs working more in primary care. In my role at CHC I saw the value and appreciation for RDNs in primary care and enjoyed working as part of an interdisciplinary team. I hope that model of care expands and RDNs work more in primary care clinics as well as alongside pharmacists in community pharmacies. Pharmacies are quickly becoming the go-to resource for primary care and will become more important as vaccination efforts increase. I feel this could be a great place for multidisciplinary work and a great way for RDNs to connect with patients.
Written by UConn registered dietitian-nutritionist Donna Zigmont, RDN, CD-N
Every January, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions to make positive changes in their lives. After a very difficult 2020 due to COVID-19, we are hopeful that 2021 will be more promising for all of us. Many of us have had to put our own health and well-being on pause during the pandemic due to emotional and financial stress, changes in our routine, loneliness, caring for loved ones, or homeschooling our children.
With the start of a new year, it’s a good time to think about making positive changes to improve our nutritional health.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Don’t try to tackle everything at once.Focus on making small, doable changes in your habits that you can do over time. This is the best way to change behaviors for the long-term.
Write your goals down on a piece of paper(or enter them on your computer, tablet, or Smart phone!). This can improve your chances of reaching your goals. It’s like making a personal contract with yourself!
Enlist the support of family and friends.Sharing your goals with others makes your goals more concrete or real. Plus, family and friends can provide you with encouragement and help motivate you to reach your goals.
Use SMART goals to maximize your success.
What is aSMARTgoal?SMARTgoals are much more than simply stating something you want to accomplish.SMARTgoals arespecific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time based.
Specific– Make sure your goals are very specific, rather than general, in terms of what you want to accomplish. Instead of saying “I will eat healthier,” be more specific as to how you will eat healthier, such as “I will eat more fruits and veggies.”
Measurable–Have a way to track and measure your success to know if you’ve met your goals. Include numbers whenever possible! Are you working on trying to eat more whole grains? Set a measurable goal such as “I will eat at least one serving of whole grains daily.”
Achievable –Set goals that are realistic – goals you can achieve without setting the bar too high. If you typically eat donuts every day of the week, are you realistically going to be able to give them up altogether? Nor should you. Make a starting goal to cut back on eating donuts to 3 days a week, eventually eating donuts only as a special treat
Relevant–Make sure you are working on a goal that makes sense to you and fits in with your other goals. If you’re not motivated to work on including more low-fat dairy foods in your diet, select a different goal to work on.
Time-Bound–Set a target date to achieve your goal. Again, use numbers here! Such as, “I will eat seafood at least once a week this month.”
Here are more examples ofSMARTgoals:
“I will eat a piece of fruit for a snack 4 days out of the week for the next 2 weeks.”
“I will try a new recipe with beans this week.”
“I will fill half my plate with veggies at dinner 4 nights this week.”
“I will drink 8 ounces of water with each meal this week.”
“I will try 2 new whole grains this week, like barley and quinoa.”
Now you try it! Record oneSMARTgoal you want to focus on. Check to see that it isspecific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time sensitive. Ask yourself: What specific part of my diet will I work on first? How will I track and measure my success? Can I realistically achieve this goal? Is it relevant to me and am I motivated to make this change? What is the short-term time frame I will work on this goal? This week, the next 2 weeks, this month?
Once you reach your goal, set anotherSMARTgoal to work on. Before you know it, your small changes will add up to HUGE results!
Make it a goal to try a plant-based, meatless meal this week!
Veggie Pizza Pita Pockets – Makes 1 Serving
1 pita, whole wheat (or use whole wheat English muffin)
4 Tbs. tomato sauce, unsalted
4 Tbs. shredded mozzarella cheese, part-skim
2 of the following vegetables: (or use more to increase your veggies!) green & red peppers, sliced mushrooms, chopped broccoli, chopped red onion, chopped spinach
Spread tomato sauce on pita.
Sprinkle various chopped vegetable over sauce.
Sprinkle cheese on top of vegetables.
Microwave 35-45 seconds or broil in oven until cheese melts. Slice in half, let cool, and enjoy!
One Skillet Meal – Makes 4 Servings
1 package broccoli (10 ounces, frozen, can also use mustard greens, collard greens or spinach)
A Series of Virtual Workshops for Adults the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00pm.
These workshops are open to any interested adults- volunteers, 4-H leaders, parents, and community members. The opportunity to register will continue through the year. Each presentation is 20-30 minutes long, followed by 10-20 minutes discussion time (so the workshop is done in 40 minutes!).
Click here to register. The Zoom login will be emailed to you, along with any handouts that accompany workshops.
Alli is a social worker, nutrition and health coach, and personal trainer with an extensive back ground in mental health. She works with adults to find their bio-individual balance and achieve goals with nutrition, health, wellness, and lifestyle.
Written by UConn Dietetics Student Alexa Horkachuck
Autumn is finally here, which means that pumpkin flavored products are flooding into your local grocery store. If you’re a fan, you will find everything from pumpkin cream cheese and pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin pastas and soups. There is bound to be a recipe that you would enjoy making and eating!
Pumpkin is a tasty vegetable that is packed with healthful benefits for you and your family to enjoy. It is low in calories, sodium, and fat, while high in fiber to help keep you full throughout the day. It is also a great source of beta-carotene which your body converts to vitamin A – a powerful antioxidant which helps improve your skin and eye health. Pumpkin also has vitamin C to keep your immune system strong through the upcoming winter. It also is packed with potassium, and low in sodium which can help prevent high blood pressure!
When cooking with fresh pumpkin, it is important to pay attention to what type of pumpkin you are using and how much of the pumpkin you need to use! For cooking at home, purchase fresh sugar-pumpkins (also called pie or sweet pumpkins), which are small and round. Field types of pumpkins are larger, have watery, stringy flesh, and are best used for decorating like Jack-O-Lanterns.
Check this out to learn about different types of pumpkins!
You can replace fresh, pureed pumpkin with equal amounts of canned pumpkin in your favorite recipes. For example, substitute 1 cup fresh, pureed pumpkin called for in a recipe with 1 cup canned pumpkin.
Canned pumpkin is certainly more convenient and relatively inexpensive, typically costing around $1-2 for a 15-oz can. Be sure to buy 100% pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin pie “mix” by accident! The “filling and mix styles” add unwanted sugars that you do not need in most recipes.
Once opened, canned pumpkin can be stored in your refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. You can also stir canned pumpkin into oatmeal, pancakes, smoothies, and vanilla yogurt for added flavor. Add it to soups and stews to thicken them.
Be sure to transfer any leftover canned pumpkin to an airtight container and store in the fridge.
Written by UConn Dietetics Masters Student Shawn Lada
We may be having cooler days now, but it is always important to stay hydrated. Keeping your body hydrated helps your heart, brain, muscles, and joints to stay healthy, along with keeping you regular and preventing urinary tract infections! During hotter days and summer months your body needs more fluid because you lose fluid when you sweat. Guess what? Sweating also occurs if you are working out in a gym in the winter! Even if you are not working out, your body loses fluid every day and you may not be drinking as much fluid as you need to rehydrate1.
Bottom line: Be aware of your fluid intake each day and adjust as necessary.
Depending on your activity level, from low activity like washing the car and walking the dog, to high/athletic activity like running a number of miles or lifting weights–and even depending on your gender–you may need around 90 ounces to 180 ounces of water a day. (That is up to almost 1 ½ gallons or 23 eight-oz cups!) The good news is you get around 20% of your fluid intake from fruits and vegetables2. Do you know how water packed they are? Think of sweet juicy watermelon and crunchy apples! That’s water making that ‘crunch’!
The other 80% of your daily fluids come from water, milk, coffee, tea, and other beverages3. Other sources of fluids include foods like plain yogurt, broth-based soups, and popsicles.
For the rest of your hydration needs–and to get into a healthy routine–keep a reusable water bottle nearby, or a glass of water if you are at home, sipping as you go through the day4.
Remember: if you’re feeling thirsty, listen to your body and drink up! By the time you are thirsty, you are probably already on your way to becoming dehydrated. A way of knowing if you are dehydrated is to look at the color of your urine. It should be clear or pale yellow5. If it’s not, it’s time to drink some refreshing water!
Struggling to take a liking to plain drinking water? Try adding sliced fruits, like lemons and limes, and vegetables like cucumber slices, or even some mint!
French, K. A., & James, L. (2020, September 16). Water, Water Everywhere. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://extension.psu.edu/water-water-everywhere
Appel, L. J., M.D, Baker, D. H., Ph.D., Bar-Or, O., M.D, Minaker, K. L., M.D., Morris, C., Jr., M.D, Resnick, L. M., M.D, . . . Whelton, P. K., M.D., M.Sc. (2004, February 11). Report Sets Dietary Intake Levels for Water, Salt, and Potassium To Maintain Health and Reduce Chronic Disease Risk. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2004/02/report-sets-dietary-intake-levels-for-water-salt-and-potassium-to-maintain-health-and-reduce-chronic-disease-risk
French, K. A., & James, L. (2020, September 16). Water, Water Everywhere. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://extension.psu.edu/water-water-everywhere
Written by UConn Dietetics student Madeline Fulton
93 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL. Nearly 29 million adult Americans have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.1
Too much cholesterol circulating in your blood can put you at risk for developing heart disease and stroke. What is cholesterol? It’s a waxy, fat-like substance made by our livers. Cholesterol is needed for our bodies to produce hormones, digest fatty foods, and other important jobs. Our bodies produce the right amount of cholesterol needed. There are two types of cholesterol we care most about: “GOOD” (aka HDL) and “BAD” (aka LDL). We want more “GOOD” cholesterol in our bodies because it helps our bodies get rid of the “BAD” cholesterol. The “BAD”, or less healthy cholesterol, can build up over time and cause our arteries to become stiff and narrow. This reduces the blood flow which could result in blockage to the heart (a heart attack) or the brain (a stroke). Cholesterol in our blood is affected MOST by eating saturated fats (fatty meats, butter, baked goods) and trans fats (fried fast food, vegetable oil, microwave popcorn, some stick margarines).
The way you can help yourself and improve your cholesterol levels is to:
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS. Don’t miss doctor’s appointments or lab work.
Learn and be aware of the foods that can help you control your good and bad cholesterol, as well as, the saturated and trans fats you eat:
“Good” cholesterol (aka HDL) is affected in a good way by foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, olive oil, canola oil, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), flax and chia seeds, avocado, high fiber fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
“Bad” cholesterol (aka LDL) is affected by foods like fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy products, deep-fried fast foods, processed foods (chips, cookies, other snack foods), and butter.
Review your diet. Only on occasion should you eat rich (highly marbled) meats, cream, butter, and fried foods.
Participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Aerobic exercise (those that increase your heart rate) can help improve your GOOD cholesterol levels. Aerobic types of exercise include: walking, running, biking, or jumping rope.2
Drink alcohol in moderation. The current recommendation for females is up to one drink per day; while the recommendation for males is up to two drinks per day. “One drink” is considered one glass (5 oz.) of wine, one beer (12 oz), or 1.5 oz of hard liquor.3
If diet and exercise plans don’t seem to be lowering your cholesterol numbers into a healthy range, medication might be necessary. Make sure to speak with your doctor to see what plan will work best for you!
Tip: Small changes go a long way when it comes to managing your cholesterol! The small changes will add up, helping you to develop long-lasting lifestyle and nutrition changes.
Virani SS, Alonso A, Benjamin EJ, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, Carson AP, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2020 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2020. Accessed September 21, 2020.
S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008. Health (San Francisco) 2008 Physical Activity. Accessed September 21, 2020.
Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of. 2015. “2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (8th edition). Accessed September 21, 2020.
This material is funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
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.