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Happy Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day

Have you ever celebrated “Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day”? Well, we haven’t! So, we are pretty excited to be celebrating, for the first time, with you today! Grilled Cheese sandwiches are one of the most versatile foods around. So, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate with you than by giving a few examples of ways to ‘spice up’ your grilled cheese, and make it a nutritious, filling option for you and you’re family!

Many people enjoy eating their grilled cheese sandwich with a large bowl of tomato soup. However, tomato soup is high in calories. So, our first change is simple, but tasty. Simply adding your favorite veggies, like tomato slices, to your grilled cheese sandwich is a great way to add nutrients and flavor. Not only are you going to get rid of unnecessary calories by subbing soup with vegetables, they are also packed with many health-promoting vitamins. Another one of our favorite vegetable additions are red peppers and onions.

Another way to cut calories, and liven up the flavor of your grilled cheese sandwich, is to switch up the type of cheese that you use. Traditionally, grilled cheese sandwiches are made with sliced American cheese or Velveeta. These cheeses are high in calories and not as full of flavor as some other options. Next time, try switching those old, boring cheeses, for a half slice of low-fat cheddar and a half slice of low-fat Swiss. This combination will give your sandwich a great new flavor, while cutting your total calorie intake.

Are you tired of eating your grilled cheese sandwich on plain, white bread? So are we! Switching out your boring old bread for a tastier option can also be healthy. Be sure to use a whole-grain replacement. You can also use new sandwich thins. Or, to really change things up, try making yourself a grilled cheese rollup, using tortillas.

In the past, you may have though of a grilled cheese sandwich as the last option, when you didn’t feel like cooking anything else. Now, with these simple changes, you can look at a grilled cheese sandwich as a nutritious, gourmet dish that your whole family will enjoy!

How do you like to make your grilled cheese sandwich both healthy and tasty? Share your comments by posting a comment on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

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Six Picks: The Top 6 Things You Need to Know About Smart Carbs

1. Know your simple carbs. Sucrose, fructose, and lactose are all simple carbohydrates, and are comprised mostly of simple sugars. It’s generally not essential to have a large amount of simple carbs in your diet.
2. Know your complex carbs. Made of starch and fibers, they’re often referred to as whole grains. They can be found in whole wheat flour, rolled oats, barley, rye, and brown rice among other foods. These can help reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.
3. Smart Carbs are essential for exercise and function. The majority of energy you use on a daily basis comes from the carbohydrates you consume. Not just for running, biking and swimming, carbs also give your body the energy for essential functions like your heartbeat, breathing, and digestion.
4. Smart carbs provide a way for you to consume fewer calories. Put simply, most foods that have not been processed are going to
contain fewer calories. So, when looking at carbs, try to find the least processed sources. For example, eating cooked oatmeal rather than an oatmeal cookie is always a good idea.
5. Simple carbs mean more than simplicity. When fiber is removed from food, with fat and sugar being added, the calories skyrocket while nutrition values plummet. Plus, the low nutrient density means that you’ll be eating more, just to feel full.
6. Incorporate Smart Carbs into meals and snacks. Try adding complex carbs to your regular meals and snacks. Instead of chips, try whole grain crackers, or whole grain versions of breads and cereals. Carrot sticks and fruit also contain smart carbs, and provide a much better choice than other carb-filled foods.

For more tips on eating ‘Smart Carbs”, check out Item # 2939 (ADA Complete Guide to Carb Counting) in our catalog or online at www.ncescatalog.com.

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Plant the Seeds of Good Nutrition

This month, which is National Fruits and Vegetables Month, give a little extra thought to the naturally grown foods that you eat (hopefully) on a daily basis.

One thing you can find scattered around the offices here at NCES are members of the Fruit and Vegetable Seedies. We know they’re for kids, but there’s nothing quite like having a friendly, smiling fruit or vegetable looking your way when you’re going about your daily business.
The fact of the matter is: it’s good to have healthy reminders around to keep you in the nutritious mood. Children especially, are more prone to picking up good nutrition habits, just by being exposed to it. Having kids help prepare meals and pick out the items for the meals gives them a sense of control when it comes to their nutrition, and gives you a chance to educate them a little bit on what might be best for them to eat.
One of the biggest areas they get their habits from is you. Leading by example works well in many situations, and when raising a child, it’s no exception. Just by eating well yourself, you’ll be giving your own child that much better of a chance to develop good eating habits in the future.
Of course, the Fruit and Veggie Seedies probably wouldn’t hurt your odds either. Food can always seem more enjoyable when it’s got a big pair of eyes and a silly smile with it.
Check them out for yourself in our catalog, in the ‘Educated Kids’ section, or by searching Item #’s 2661 and 3001 at www.ncescatalog.com.

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Six Picks: The Top 6 Things You Need to Know About Eating Veggies

  1. Green Veggies. Green vegetables can help protect your eyesight and reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration, which is an eye disease that can lead to blindness. Some good choices for green vegetables are: broccoli, romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts.  
  2. Red Veggies.  By eating red vegetables, you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Some good choices for red vegetables are: tomatoes, radishes, red bell peppers.  
  3. Yellow Veggies. Having a good dose of yellow vegetables in your meals can help strengthen your immune system, due to the increased amounts of vitamin C in these plants. Some good choices for yellow vegetables are: yellow bell peppers, squash, yellow corn.
  4. Orange Veggies. With the eating of orange vegetables, you can help yourself maintain healthy skin and bones, and help with eye health. Some good choices for orange vegetables are: carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes.  
  5. Purple Veggies. An interesting fact about purple vegetables is that they could help you guard your body from cancer. Some good food choices for purple vegetables are: eggplant, purple onions.  
  6. White Veggies. The advantages of eating white vegetables are reduced risk of heart attacks, and reduced risks of some cancers. Some good food choices for white vegetables are: mushrooms, onions, garlic, cauliflower, white potatoes.
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Six Picks: The Top 6 Things You Need to Know About Fruits

  1. Green Fruits. Green fruits can help protect your eyesight and reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration, which is an eye disease that can lead to blindness. Some good choices for green fruits are: limes, kiwi, honeydew and green grapes.  
  2. Red Fruits.  By eating red fruits, you can get antioxidants to ward off inflammation, urinary tract infections, and reduce the risk of certain cancers. Some good choices for red fruits are: watermelon, red grapes, cranberries, strawberries, cherries, pink grapefruit, papaya.  
  3. Yellow Fruits. Having a good dose of yellow fruits in your meals can help strengthen your immune system, due to the increased amounts of vitamin. Some good choices for yellow fruits are: grapefruit, pineapple, lemons.
  4. Orange Fruits. With the eating of orange fruits, you can help yourself maintain healthy skin and help with eye health. Some good choices for orange fruits are: apricots, cantaloupe, peaches, mangos.  
  5. Purple Fruits. An interesting fact about purple fruit is that they could help slow down age related loss of brain activity, and act as an anti-inflammatory or guard against certain cancers. Some good food choices for purple fruits are: blackberries, plums, prunes, blueberries, raisins, purple grapes, figs.  
  6. White Fruits. The advantages of eating white fruits are reduced risk of heart attacks, due to the high potassium content. Some good food choices for white fruits are: pears and bananas.
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Where in the World is Your Cholesterol?

September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month. That being said, where is your cholesterol coming from, and what can you do about it?
Saturated fat is one of the main sources of LDL cholesterol. Hiding in dairy products, red meats and oils, you can prevent a rise in your cholesterol numbers by avoiding cheese and ground beef, which are the two largest sources of saturated fat, according to Dietary Guidelines reports.
Another thing to avoid is trans-fat. This tends to be found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils used in fried and processed foods like baked goods and desserts. Make sure to read the label before you buy to see if you’re getting 0g trans-fat.
Some foods to avoid as much as possible for those watching their cholesterol: prime rib, coconut milk, dried coconut, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, cake donuts, ricotta cheese or ground beef.
How do you lower your cholesterol if it’s already high? Get some soluble fibers.  Things like cooked oatmeal, oat bran, avocados, broccoli, carrots, prunes, and sunflower seeds are all excellent sources of soluble fibers that can raise your HDL cholesterol levels and lower your LDL cholesterol.
Some other ideas:

  • Eat 6 to 8 small meals daily instead of 1 or 2 large meals.
  • 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity every day goes a long way.
  • Limit sugar and fructose intake.
  • Limit coffee drinks made without a paper filter.
  • Use sterol and stanol rich margarines and salad dressings.

For more information about cholesterol and tips for controlling your levels, check out our “Cholesterol: Control Your Numbers” Handout, Item # 4139 at www.ncescatalog.com or in our catalog.

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Your Questions Answered

We’ve had so many responses to our music video! Thanks to everyone who helped with the video, and to everyone that keeps passing it along.
To answer some of your more common questions:

1.We shot this over a few days in various locations. A lot came from a local middle school’s library. (hence, all the books) Other locations included a grocer, and a local farmer’s market.

2.The Pom Boms are Kirsten, Mikayla, and Sophia, they love to dance and sing (and be on camera!).

3.Yes, this video and song are free to download and share with whoever wants to listen to it. This was a non-profit endeavor, and we want everyone to have fun with it.

If you know someone who’s related to someone who knows someone that wants to give this music video a little love in a big way, then get ahold of us! First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign needs as much national support as it can get (which is why we named the song ‘Let’s Move’!). Please join us in the fight against childhood obesity!

-NCES Staff.

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The Music Video Diaries (Part 2)

The release date for the “Let’s Move” video is rapidly approaching. The players have played (a lot), the score been struck (over and over and over again), and we here at the office are left to wonder: What’s going to happen.

First, we envision rapid success, catapults to stardom, and possibly a run on all of the night-time talk shows. But if that doesn’t happen, we have some goals in mind that aren’t Hollywood-oriented.

We want to inspire. Not just children to move (though that would be good enough), but for people of every age to be motivated to get their daily exercise in. 45 minutes of moderate activity is good enough to keep most of us in healthy condition. If we can make you dance for just a few minutes each day, well, then we’ve got you part of the way there.

What would be even better is to lead by example. The Let’s Move campaign, started by First Lady Michelle Obama is an admirable cause. It takes all of us to give it the hands and feet that it needs to be successful. Everyone who is involved in health and wellness areas should be finding their own ways to contribute to this noble movement.

After all, it’s not our future at stake, it’s the next generation’s.

Oh, and for grins, here’s a pic of our dance crew, clad in their raucous threads.

Meet the Pom Boms.

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Veggies for the Picky Eater

As you may be aware, August is National Healthy Lunch Month, which provides a good opportunity to talk about making healthy lunches,  for you and your loved ones.
Feeding a picky child doesn’t necessarily have to be a big chore. In fact, there are several little tips that you can employ in order to help your child be a little more ‘open-minded’ when it comes to the fruits and vegetables that are good for them.
Let your child be a part of the process.  You can do this by letting them help grow the fruits or veggies in question. Or, even by letting them help pick it out at the store.  You may see some surprising results in their willingness to eat the vegetables.  The more a child is involved in what they’re eating, the better and easier it is to instill good eating habits early on in life, that will stick with them as they get older.
Letting your child help prepare the dish also can go a long way towards getting them to eat it. A matter of pride then pops up, and they might choose to eat it, and might even accidentally like it, since they provided it for the family (and themselves). Even at very young ages, some children have enough fine motor skills to shell peas, wash lettuce and pop beans.
Presenting the vegetable or fruit in a different manner can also help. Now, we’re not suggesting dipping it into honey glaze or anything like that, but allowing for a light ranch dip, or peanut butter can make that celery a bit more appetizing. Even sprinkling parmesan cheese on top goes a long way to improve the appeal of vegetables and fruits.
Tips like these, as well as helpful recipes, can be found in the book “Meals Without Squeals.” A good guide for parents, and a great guide for childcare providers when it comes to what foods you choose for your children. Look in the ‘Educated Kids’ section of our catalog, or search for item #3925 at www.ncescatalog.com.