Blog post written by Breanna Tucker, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
Image from experiencelife.lifetime.life/article/in-season
Indiana is only warm for a few months out of the year. This means that most produce cannot be grown all year round. With summer coming up, there will be lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in season and available at farmer’s markets and in different grocery stores.
What does "in season" mean?
Eating in season means that you are eating what is grown during the current time of year. Thankfully, due to modern technology and transportation, most options at the grocery store stay the same year-round. However, the items in season will change according to the month. It’s important to know that eating seasonally does not necessarily mean that you are eating organically.
What are the benefits of eating produce in season?
There are a lot of benefits to eating different fruits and vegetables that are in season. One benefit is the price. When crops are in season, farmers will produce more of them, which brings the cost down. The travel expenses are also lower because the produce is usually coming locally instead of coming from different states or countries.
Another benefit includes the nutritional value. When produce is in season, it is often picked when it is ripe and eaten close to its harvest date. This increases the amount of nutrients in the fruit or vegetable. For example, a bell pepper picked locally in season may have more antioxidants than a bell pepper picked early and shipped across the country. Antioxidants like vitamin C protect the body against harmful compounds and can help prevent many diseases.
Another benefit is that eating seasonally is better for the environment. It supports local farmers and reduces the need for out of season produce. This will then reduce transportation, refrigeration, and some of the preservatives used on different fruits and vegetables.
Image from indianapublicmedia.org/eartheats/walmart-commits-local-growers.php
How do I know what produce in season?
There are a lot of lists online of what produce is in season during specific times of the year. One great resource is Purdue University’s FoodLink, which includes recipes and preparation tips for seasonal produce items.
Below is a list of fruits and vegetables that are in season during the summer in Indiana:
Image from www.dallasnews.com/sponsored/2019/12/27/your-seasonal-calendar-for-the-freshest-texas-produce-all-year-infographic-included
Is eating seasonally right for me?
Eating seasonally may not be the most realistic option for you and your family and that is okay. Maybe the weather makes it difficult for there to be many seasonal options or your kid will only eat certain fruits or vegetables. Maybe your nearest grocery store, market, or food pantry does not offer seasonal produce. At the end of the day, do what is right for you and your family. Eating any fruits and vegetables is better than none!
Farmers' markets are a great option for seasonal foods. There are several farmers' market programs that can increase the purchasing power of households that receive SNAP, WIC, and other benefits. SNAP offers FreshBucks, which doubles your SNAP dollars to use at the market. WIC offers the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, which provides coupons for fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program offers similar assistance to eligible seniors.
If you think eating seasonally may be right for you, try to incorporate one item from the list above into your next grocery store list. This can help add some variety into your weekly meals, and you may discover new foods you enjoy!
Blog post written by Joshua Edwards, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
Image from www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/galleries/16-breakfast-ideas-kids-love/ey55dbfv
School is a very important part of children’s lives. Children usually spend 13 years on education in the typical K-12 school. We know that parents and caregivers want their children to put their best foot forward and get as much out of this time as possible. To do this, every child should start their day with a delicious and healthy breakfast meal.
Research has shown that children have better academic success when they eat breakfast before school than when they do not. We do not want to send our children to school when they are too hungry to learn. If breakfast at the home is not an option, try enrolling your student in the breakfast program at your school. Many schools participate in a program to provide free or reduced price breakfast and lunches for eligible families.
This post will discuss the benefits of eating breakfast, including improved concentration, better test scores, increased energy, and better attendance. It will also provide tips for quick breakfast meals and recipes.
Students who do not eat breakfast in the morning may have difficulty concentrating. They tend to be more distracted by their peers, and have a harder time retaining information than students who eat breakfast. A healthy breakfast provides nutrients that the brain needs to function properly. It also helps children focus on learning and engaging at school rather than on their rumbling stomach.
Image from allroundclub.com/blog/critical-thinking/
Better Test Scores
A research study published in the Journal of Economics showed that students who ate breakfast scored an average of 25% better on tests in math, reading, and science than students who did not eat breakfast. Researchers concluded that this was due to the students receiving the proper nutrition for brain function and thinking.
During sleep, our blood sugar drops because our body works to remove sugar from the bloodstream and we go many hours without eating. When we do not eat breakfast, our blood sugar continues to stay low and can even fall lower. Low blood sugar can make us feel tired, sluggish, or in a fog. All of these traits are not ideal for someone trying to learn. By eating a healthy, nutrient-rich breakfast, a student's blood sugar will rise to a healthy level. This helps them feel energized and focused. However, this does not mean that high-sugar breakfasts are better. It is important to eat a variety of food groups to get all the nutrients that growing minds need.
Image from www.webmd.com/parenting/features/how-play-time-outside-helps-kids
Students who do not eat breakfast tend to also have weaker immune systems. This means they are more susceptible to illness and missing school days. Students who skip breakfast are also more likely to skip class to go to the nurse for a headache or stomachache due to hunger.
Overall, eating breakfast has so many benefits to students. It is very important that children are able to receive proper nutrition in the morning - either from their home or from the school - so they can have the most productive day possible.
Quick Breakfast Tips
Making breakfast in advance is the number 1 tip for making a quick breakfast. By preparing food the night before and only needing to reheat it in the morning, you can save tons of time and energy in the morning.
Some examples of easy breakfast meals that can be stored and reheated later are:
Other ideas for easy and budget-friendly breakfasts:
Visit our Recipes page for more healthy recipe ideas for every meal!
Image from www.andianne.com/6-overnight-oat-recipes-you-should-know-for-easy-breakfasts/
Blog post written by Jamie Dewig, IUPUI Dietetic Intern, CPT, CYI
Food is fun, but only when it is safe. There are many ways to keep food safe and to know when food is beginning to expire. April is a perfect time to do some spring cleaning and prepare your kitchen for a healthier lifestyle. April is also a time of celebration as Easter rolls around. Follow these tips for finding, storing, prepping, and serving food to make sure that everyone stays safe and can enjoy the approaching spring weather!
Image from www.gianteagle.com/seasonal/april-hub/easter-dinner
Shopping for and Harvesting Food
Image from www.ppmco.org/health-and-wellness/health-education
Safe Food Storage
Image from worldcentralkitchen.blogspot.com
Image from www.hgtv.com/lifestyle/clean-and-organize/how-to-organize-kitchen-pantry
Image from jagwire.augusta.edu
Safely Sharing and Serving Food
Spring is the perfect time for new beginnings. If you are not currently using these tips, now could be the perfect time to incorporate them into your lifestyle! Reorganizing and cleaning up can give you such a refreshed feeling and make your space feel like new. Keeping your food and spaces for food clean and organized will help to ensure a safe and efficient environment for meals. I hope these tips are helpful - don’t forget to have fun!
For more resources and information, visit these websites:
Blog post written by Ashley Clumb, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
March not only includes the greenest day of the year (St. Patrick’s Day), but it is also National Nutrition Month®! This is the perfect time to try some green foods for better nutrition. Eating “green” doesn’t have to feel like a chore. There are so many ways you can sneak greens into your everyday routine in order to live a healthier life!
Image from www.paulsfruit.com/Blog/Article/89/St.Paddy-s-day-greens
4 Reasons to Eat More Green Vegetables
First, let's take a look at why eating green veggies is important:
The daily recommended amount of total vegetables is 2-4 cups for adults and 1-3 cups for children, depending on their age. For an easy visual, use your hands! A clenched fist is about the size of one cup. Note: 2 cups of raw leafy vegetables (like lettuce, kale, spinach, or greens) only count as one cup because they are so light and airy!
Image from www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/a19986045/portion-size-guide/
6 Ways to Add More Greens to Your Meals
Eating green vegetables can be a challenge, especially if you aren't a fan of the taste. Try these helpful tips to make it a little easier:
Image from www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/add-color/the-goodness-of-greens
Recipes for "Going Green"
Gleaners is working hard to provide our neighbors with more produce options - including green vegetables - to support the health of our community. We are constantly seeking new varieties of produce that are familiar to our diverse neighbors, so you may see some fruits and vegetables that you have never tried before!
Check out the recipes below for more tasty ideas on how to eat “green”!
Blog post written by Taylor Bartosiewicz, IUPUI Dietetic Intern 2019
Image from parkcrescenthealth.blog
Did you know your heart beats about 115,200 times each day? Your heart works hard for you, so it’s important to take care of your heart. February is a great time to learn more about eating smart for your heart because it is American Heart Month!
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. You can’t change some risk factors for heart disease, like age and family history. However, the good news is that as much as 80% of the risk for heart disease can be prevented with diet and lifestyle behaviors.
Foods to Choose Often for Heart Health
Image from everydayhealth.com
Foods to Limit for Heart Health
Image from health.gov
Other Heart Health Tips
Regular physical activity also has multiple heart health benefits. According to the American Heart Association, exercising for 30 minutes most days of the week can reduce blood pressure, help your heart work more efficiently, manage stress, and maintain a healthy weight.
Knowing your numbers can also help you take charge of your heart health. Visit your doctor at least once a year to check your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
What can you do to support heart health today?
Image from riverwoodhealthcare.org
Blog post written by Madison Stutsman, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
Trillions of bacteria and viruses exist inside our bodies. Most of them are found in a pocket of the large intestine. This is what we refer to as the “gut microbiome”. The gut microbiome has many good bacteria, but it can also be home to bad bacteria.
In fact, there are more bacteria in your body than human cells. There are up to 1,000 different types of bacterial species in the human gut microbiome. Most of these bacteria are extremely important for your health, while others can cause disease.
Image from digestivecarephysicians.com
Having a balance of both good and bad bacteria helps with digestion and keeps the body and its functions healthy. Too much bad bacteria in the body can lead to digestive issues, low energy and disease. Living a healthy lifestyle can help the good bacteria grow and keep the bad bacteria in check!
How Does the Gut Microbiome Help My Body?
The gut microbiome helps the body in many ways, including:
Image from gut microbiotaforhealth.com
How Do I Keep My Gut Microbiome Healthy?
The foods you eat play a large role in controlling what types of bacteria live in the gut. One of the easiest ways to improve gut health is by introducing prebiotics and probiotics to the body!
Image from soundprobiotics.com
A healthy gut plays an important role in your overall health, so eat to support it! Try these recipes to add more prebiotics and probiotics into your day:
Blog post written by Hallie Little, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
Image from www.vanwell.net/pollination
National Pear Month...Why Care?
Did you know that December is National Pear Month? If you are anything like me, you probably don’t eat pears very often. But fear not, you will be a pear expert after reading this post!
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American only consumes about 0.9 cups of fruit a day. This falls short of the 1.5-2.5 cup recommendation set by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If you have never tried pears, they may be a fun, new way to increase your fruit intake!
All About Pears
Pears grow on trees. About 88% of pears in the US are grown in Washington and Oregon. They grow best in this region due to its volcanic soil, clean mountain water, warm spring days, and cool nights. They are in season from August-October, making them a great choice for a budget-friendly fall fruit. Below are some different varieties you may want to try. The Bartletts are the most popular and common in the United States.
Image from www.sujajuice.com
One medium pear has about 100 Calories. It also provides:
Image from galafruit.net
Gut Health: Pears can help improve your gut health. They contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. Fiber can help improve bowel regularity as well as soften and bulk up stool. Soluble fiber in pears also serves as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in your gut.
Rich in Antioxidants: Antioxidants can help to decrease inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation increases your risk for chronic disease like diabetes and heart disease. Eating fruits (like pears 😊) and veggies regularly can help decrease your risk for chronic disease.
If you are buying fresh pears, you should be aware that they may be hard, green, and unripe. However, pears ripen best off the tree. Just like bananas ripen off the tree over time, pears will ripen (and soften) when left on the countertop. The pear should be slightly soft, but not squishy. Once the pear is ripe, it should be stored in the refrigerator.
You can also find pears in the canned fruit section. If possible, it’s better to buy pears canned in juice. Pears canned in syrup will have more added sugars.
Image from kroger.com
5 Ways to Enjoy Pears
Image from www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com
All in all, pears are a delicious way to incorporate more fruit into your diet. They are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Let us know in the comments section how you plan to celebrate National Pear Month!
Blog post written by Samantha Bradshaw, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
Photo from www.healthydirections.com/articles/digestive-health/gut-health-benefits-of-fiber
Fiber: What is it and why is it important?
Fiber is a carbohydrate that humans cannot digest. Fiber passes through the body and works to manage how the body uses sugar. This process keeps hunger and blood sugar at a normal level. There are two types of fiber that can be consumed: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
How is fiber beneficial to overall health?
A diet high in fiber can reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, inflammation of the intestines (also known as diverticular disease), and constipation. People who eat high fiber diets also have a lower risk for metabolic syndrome (multiple conditions that develop together and increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke). Fiber, specifically soluble fiber, is good for maintaining the bacteria in your gut as well as controlling blood sugar, helping with weight management, immunity, and brain function.
Which foods are high in fiber?
Fiber can be found in almost any type of whole food that comes from plants. Generally, whole grains, legumes, beans, fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber. Some examples of high fiber foods include oats, barley, lentils, pears, brown rice, whole wheat bread, apples, and chickpeas.
Fiber can also be added into foods in the form of chicory root or inulin. Look for these words in the ingredients list on food packages to know if fiber has been added.
Photo from www.theplanettoday.com/foods-that-contain-fiber/
How much fiber should I eat each day?
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the recommended amount of dietary fiber intake is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories consumed. For example, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, you should aim for 28 grams of fiber daily.
The Institute of Medicine recommends different levels of fiber by age and gender:
Image from employees.henrico.us/county-connection/fill-up-with-fiber/
To put this in perspective, a 40-year-old woman could meet her daily fiber requirements by eating:
Tips to increase fiber intake:
There are many ways you can boost the amount of fiber in your diet. It is important to increase your fiber intake slowly and gradually to prevent side effects like gas, bloating, and cramping. It is also important to drink plenty of water so fiber can work properly in your body.
While most people can meet their dietary fiber needs through food, others may benefit from a fiber supplement. Be sure to talk to your doctor and/or dietitian before starting any supplements!
Original photo by Samantha Bradshaw
High-Fiber Oatmeal Recipe
This simple breakfast recipe provides a filling 7 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein to keep you fueled all morning!
Recipe makes one serving. Nutrition information: 435 calories, 64 g carbohydrates, 15 g total fat, 15 g protein, 7 g fiber. Allergen information: contains peanuts and gluten (unless gluten-free oats are used).
Blog post written by Rania Abdullah, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
On September 3rd, 2021, Afghan refugees began arriving at Camp Atterbury, which is just south of Indianapolis. The evacuees are expected to arrive in waves, and Indiana has the potential to host 5,000 Afghans.
Gleaners Food Bank is seeking to understand the Afghan food and culture in order to welcome these new neighbors and better meet their needs. This blog post will take you on a tour of some of the customs, values, and foods that are important to the people of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan country outline and flag inlay. Image from commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_map_of_Afghanistan.svg
Language, Art, and Culture
There are more than 48 languages spoken in Afghanistan, but the most common are Dari (Farsi), and Pashto. Afghans live in tribes, divided into many subcultures, that share the same food, clothes, art, and lifestyle. Afghans are famous for handwoven rugs and ancient oil paintings found in caves. Musical instruments played in Afghanistan include harmonium, santur, tabla (small drums), sitar, and zurna. Afghanistan has many important architectural sites such as Herat, Mazar-l-Sharif, and Ghazni.
Foods and Dietary Practices
Mutton (lamb) is the most popular meat eaten in Afghanistan. Chicken is also common, and it is usually served with long grain rice, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Favorite produce items include eggplant, spinach, potato, carrot, peas, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, dates, and melons. Fresh mint and coriander are also very common.
Popular Afghan dishes include:
Festivals and Holidays
Islam is the major religion in Afghanistan. Islamic holidays are celebrated according to the lunar calendar:
Ramadan is a very important month for Muslims. Image from ucf.edu.
Hi! My name is Olivia Vosmeier, a dietetic intern at Purdue University. For my 3-week community nutrition rotation, I had the pleasure of being placed at Gleaners Food Bank.
During my time at Gleaners, I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of ways we can all reduce and prevent food waste in our homes, minimizing the effects of food insecurity in our communities. I am excited to share some helpful facts, tips, and recipes that you can incorporate into your lives to not only protect our Earth, but also our wallets!
Did you know that about 90 billion pounds of food goes uneaten and thrown away every year? This amounts to about $370 per person each year, with the majority of the money coming from wasted protein foods, vegetables, and dairy items. With all the food that is being wasted, significant amounts of nutrients are being lost as well. On average, 1,217 calories, 146 grams of carbohydrates, 33 grams of protein, and 57 grams of total fat are wasted per person per day. This is the same as throwing away a meal which consists of spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, Caesar salad, cooked broccoli, mozzarella sticks, Pepsi, and Tiramisu!
So, what can you do to help reduce and prevent food waste?
Photo from www.eco-business.com/news/global-standard-to-measure-food-waste-aims-to-put-more-on-plates/
How to Write a Grocery List
To write an effective grocery list, it is important to begin by setting a budget. This saves you from spending money on items that you may not necessarily need. It’s also a great idea to plan out your meals for the week by looking at the food items you already have along with looking at the weekly grocery ads for any coupons, sales, or promotions going on that week. Lastly, organizing your list by different areas of the store is beneficial for reducing your time spent in the store.
Understanding Dates Applied to Packages
There are many common phrases that we see on packages that suggest how long the food item is good for. Phrases such as “best if used by”, “sell-by”, “use-by”, etc. are placed on food packaging for an estimate of when the product is at its peak quality or flavor. However, there is a lot of confusion around these phrases, resulting in many wholesome foods being thrown away. In fact, these food dates are not used for the safety of the products, but rather the overall quality of the item. When a package says, “best if used by” or “use-by”, it is still perfectly safe to use or consume after this date. “Sell-by” labels are primarily used by the stores to know how long the product should be displayed or on sale.
Repurposing Leftovers by Trying New Recipes
Many times, leftovers are thrown away because they become boring, or the appearance and texture may change, making them less desirable to eat. One option for using these items instead of throwing them away is to try out a recipe that specifically uses leftover ingredients. These recipes are a great place to start:
Need more ideas? Click here to search for recipes that use specific ingredients you already have on hand!
Turning Scraps of Fruits and Veggies into Compost
A great way to turn food scraps into usable material is by composting! This saves from adding to our already very full landfills, reducing methane gas emissions into our atmosphere. Composting consists of a chemical process which turns plant material into usable, organic soil or mulch. Composting enriches the soil, helps it to retain moisture, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, and overall reduces our carbon footprint!
Through this experience, I learned that there are so many easy ways that I can practice reducing my food waste. Here is a short video along with a handout that you can watch for more information on reducing and preventing food waste. For more nutrition and cooking tips, click through the NutritionHub website, Facebook page, and Instagram page!
Sarah Wilson, RDN, Nutrition Manager at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, along with guest blog posts by dietetic interns