WIC is an Equal Opportunity Program. If you believe that you have been discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap, write immediately to the Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250.



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Snacking Smart


Does your stomach start rumbling between meals? Snacking is a great way to quiet your stomach and satisfy your hunger. It can also help you not overeat at your next meal. I know that when I’m starving at a mealtime, I will eat everything in sight and make less healthy choices. That’s why I eat a small snack between meals to hold me over until my next meal. While snacking can help improve your nutrition, it can also add a lot of empty calories if you aren’t careful. Try following these tips and some of my favorite snack ideas to start snacking smart!


Tips for Snacking Smart:

·        Only snack if you’re physically hungry- not out of habit!

·        Don’t eat out the food bag or package- put your food into a small bowl or on a small plate so that you know how much you’re eating.

·        Pay attention to what you’re eating by turning off the TV or computer and eating at the table- focus on your food.

·        Aim for 100-200 calories- look at the nutrition label to figure out how many calories you’re eating.

·        Eat a fruit or vegetable as part of every snack.

·        Plan ahead and prepare healthy snacks in advance so that they are ready to grab and go.

·        Incorporate foods high in protein such as 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, a slice of cheese, ¼ cup of beans, a hard-boiled egg, or Greek yogurt to help keep you full for longer.


Easy Snack Ideas:

·        Celery sticks with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter

·        1 container of Greek yogurt with a banana or ½ cup of fresh fruit

·        1 slice of wheat bread or 6 crackers with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter

·        Cheese stick with an apple

·        1 cup of lightly salted popcorn and a handful of nuts

·        ¼ cup of homemade trail mix with nuts, raisins, and dry cereal

·        Pack of oatmeal made with nonfat milk

·        1 cup of vegetables with 1 slice of cheese



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

National Nutrition Month®

The month of March celebrates National Nutrition Month® with this year’s theme of “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”.

Food is the fuel for our body. Much like a car needs gasoline to run properly, the body needs food to work in the ways it’s meant to. Biting into a healthy lifestyle can mean a lot of things. For me, I like to focus on what foods can I "bite into" more often that will help me to do the things I love, like playing soccer. So whether it’s me chasing a ball around the field or you chasing your kids around the family room, we all should give our body what it needs in order for us to do the things we love.


A food group that we all can usually afford to eat more of is vegetables. Vegetables provide many of the essential nutrients the body needs and should be regularly included in a well-balanced, healthy diet. Eating enough vegetables throughout the day is a great place to start for biting into a healthy lifestyle! For women (19-50 years old) the recommendation is for at least 2 ½ cups of veggies per day. If you’re already meeting this recommendation, then maybe your focus can be on eating a variety of different vegetables. Aim for trying vegetables that are all sorts of different colors. Frozen vegetables are a great option since they stay good for long periods of time and don’t depend on what season it is. Vegetables make a great snack, side, or can be a part of the main dish- try throwing some more veggies into your casserole, sandwich, stir fry or soup.


So take this month to focus on eating a few more vegetables or trying some new ones to bite into a healthy lifestyle!


Written by Kristen Herceg, VCUHS dietetic intern

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Curb That Craving: Fast Food Has Met Its Match

By Natalie Donvito, VCUHS Dietetic Intern

We all have been there-craving a juicy cheeseburger with a side of fresh French fries; maybe even some onion rings or a chocolate ice cream treat to top it off. But what about all of the additional calories, fat, sugar, and salt that make these delicious foods less desirable?

Well, worry no more—here are some of your favorite fast food items with a healthier spin, so you can satisfy your cravings and fuel your body with a nutritious meal!

Bacon Cheeseburger, meet the California Turkey Burger

·         Replace a ground beef patty with a ground turkey patty. Turkey is a leaner meat, and is still great at holding flavor and moisture!

·         Switch the white bun for a whole wheat bun. Whole wheat provides is nutrient-rich and provides additional fiber.

·         Trade out bacon slices for avocado slices. Unlike bacon, avocados contain healthier fats that, when eaten in moderation, can help lower your cholesterol.

·         Replace high fat American or Cheddar cheese, with a slice of low fat Swiss cheese. Low fat Swiss cheese packs a similarly strong flavor with a fraction of the calories, fat, and salt.

Deep Fried French Fries, meet the Golden Baked French Fries

·         Trade out French fries cooked in oil with French fries cooked in the oven.  When potatoes are deep fried, they lose moisture and soak up the oil that they are being cooked in. Avoid all of that extra fat and calories by baking French fries in the oven. Cut down on the sodium by using a sodium-free seasoning, such as dried herbs.

·         Golden Baked French Fries (1 serving):

o   Materials: Oven, knife, cutting board, mixing bowl, cookie sheet, tin foil, cooking spray, 1 large potato, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ tablespoon Italian seasoning.

o   1) Set oven to 375°F.  2) Line cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.  3) Slice potato into French fries using the knife and cutting board. 4) Place French fries in mixing bowl. Add oil and Italian seasoning and toss until well mixed. 5) Spread in even, single layer onto lined cookie sheet.  6) Bake in oven for 20 minutes.  7) Flip fries and return to oven.  8) Continue to bake ~20 minutes or until golden brown.  9) Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly before serving.

Beer Battered Onion Rings, meet the Sautéed Onion & Green Pepper Medley

·         Similar to the French fries, deep fried onion rings are filled with excess oil, and with even more calories coming from breading. Replace this high calorie, high fat snack with a healthier side of fresh sautéed onions and green peppers. You could even add them to your California Turkey Burger!

·         Sautéed Onion & Green Pepper Medley (1 serving):

o   Materials: Stove top, skillet, knife, cutting board, ½ medium onion, ½ green bell pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil.

o   1) Slice onion and bell pepper lengthwise into strips using knife and cutting board.  2) Warm olive oil in skillet on medium-low heat on stove top.  3) Add sliced onion and bell pepper to skillet.  4) Increase to medium-high heat and stir frequently until onions begin to turn translucent in color.  5) Take off heat & allow to cool slightly before serving.

Chocolate Ice Cream Treat, meet the Ultra Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Yogurt

·         All of the fast food chains have them—soft serve ice cream or milkshake combinations that are delicious, but not entirely nutritious.  Instead, enjoy a homemade, creamy chocolate yogurt with a peanut butter twist that is sure to entice your taste buds without the added sugar, fat, and calories.  You can enjoy the treat by itself or try it as a dip with sliced apples!

·         Ultra Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake (1 serving):

o   Materials: Mixing bowl, whisk, 1 single serving container vanilla Greek yogurt (~5 ½ oz), ½ tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter.

o   1) Empty yogurt into mixing bowl.  2) Add cocoa powder and peanut butter and whisk together until well blended.  3) Serve immediately or cover and return to refrigerator.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Healthy Twist to Apple Crisp
By Kendra Quick, VCUHS Dietetic Intern
The second best thing to the all American classic apple pie. Surprise your guests this 4th of July with an apple crisp with a healthy edge. I have given my grandma’s homemade recipe a nutrition make over, so you can satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday weekend!

Original Apple Crisp


4 cups sliced apples (Granny Smith)

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

½ cup butter

1 cup all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice apples in a 9”x9” baking dish. Make crumbs by cutting butter into flour and sugar. Cover apples with crumb mixture. Bake 45 minutes.


Makes 9 servings


Nutrition Facts:

Calories (kcal): 214
Total Fat (g): 10
     Saturated Fat (g): 7
     Monounsaturated fat (g): 3
Carbohydrate (g): 31
     Fiber (g): 1
Protein (g): 0
Sodium (mg): 83


New Apple Crisp


4 cups sliced apples (Granny Smith)

½ cup of Splenda brown sugar (packed)

¼ cup Natural applesauce (no sugar added)

1 cup whole-wheat flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice apples in a 9”x9” baking dish. Mix apple sauce with flour and sugar to make the topping. Cover apples with mixture. Bake 45 minutes.


Makes 9 servings


Nutrition Facts:

Calories (kcal): 120
Total Fat (g): 0
     Saturated Fat (g):  0
     Monounsaturated fat (g):  0
Carbohydrate (g): 18
Fiber (g): 3
Protein (g): 2
Sodium (mg): 1


Friday, April 18, 2014

Healthy Tacos - It's Whats for Dinner!

Healthy Crockpot Chicken Tacos


Makes 8 servings.



2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, raw

12 oz. salsa

1 can diced green chilies

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. garlic powder

6” corn tortilla wraps

1 c. fat free plain Greek yogurt

1 avocado



1.       Combine salsa, green chilies, onion, ground cumin, and garlic powder and place in slow cooker with chicken breasts. 

2.       When chicken is tender and juices run clear, shred chicken by pulling apart with two forks.

3.       Warm 6” corn tortilla wraps in microwave for 15-30 seconds.

4.       Fill wrap with ½ cup (4 oz.) shredded chicken mix and top with 2 tablespoons yogurt and avocado.

5.       May add lettuce for an extra crunch.


*Note Greek Yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream

*Fresh avocado can also be made into guacamole with the addition of lemon juice, onions, garlic powder, and pepper. 



Calories:  240

Total Fat:  6.1 g

Saturated Fat: 1 g

Carbohydrate:  15 g

Fiber:  3.3 g

Sodium: 234 mg

Protein: 30 g



Frozen Foods - Check Them Out!

Frozen Food Finds

By: Jenna Amos, VCUHS Dietetic Intern

Filled with calorie heavy tv dinners and tempting frozen treats, the frozen food aisle is often considered a danger zone for those choosing to eat healthfully. But this section shouldn’t be avoided completely because there are lots of easy and good for you foods here!

Benefits of Frozen Foods:

·         Long shelf life

·         Lots of vitamins and minerals like fresh foods

·         Convenient

·         Easy to prepare

·         Can be less expensive than fresh foods


Fruits and Vegetables:  Frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen within hours of picking and at the peak of their ripeness. The quick freezing of these products does a great job of locking in the nutrients and flavor. Plus, frozen fruits and veggies are a major time saver!  They can go from the freezer to the table in minutes with almost no prep . Just make sure to check the ingredient label on these frozen foods and avoid those with added seasonings, sauces and sugar.

Juice:  Frozen juice concentrates are a good alternative to bottled juices.  They have all the same vitamins and minerals of juice in a bottle but in a more compact form which can be a big space saver.  Choose 100% juice varieties without added sugar.  Just make sure to follow the directions to make sure your juice tastes like it should!  

Cheese: You may not find cheese in the freezer section but it can be frozen at home.  Sometimes cheese can go bad before you use the entire block.  If you know that you will not use all of your cheese before it will spoil, try wrapping it in plastic and freezing it until you are ready to use it. 


Next time you make a grocery trip, pick up some frozen staples to have on hand to make healthy choices simple choices even on the busiest of days!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

March is National Nutrition Month

Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right!

Happy National Nutrition Month! This year’s focus was to enjoy healthy foods.  This is very important for all people and especially children to promote good, healthy eating habits.  A good tip for enjoying healthy foods is to choose foods using your 5 senses: taste, smell, sight, touch, and hearing. 

1.       Taste – Choose foods that taste good! Use different seasoning such as lemon, herbs, fruits or vegetables.

2.       Smell – Cook foods that smell great! Fresh fruits and vegetables also smell great.

3.       Sight – Choose foods that are a variety of colors.  Fruits and vegetables add color to your plate and are also a great source of nutrients.

4.       Touch – Use your hands to prepare foods.  This can include tearing salads, peeling corn husks, or even mixing using your hands over a spoon.

5.       Hear – Listen as you crunch into an apple or carrot stick, start cooking more at home so you can hear your food sizzling.

Try this recipe! It uses all 5 senses!

Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt Dip

Wooden skewers



Green Grapes

Pineapple chunks


Cut strawberries, grapes, and bananas into bit size pieces.  Place pieces of fruit onto skewer, alternating fruits.   Stack fruit until the skewer is full and repeat until the fruit is gone.

*For variation, you can use the fruits you enjoy the most!



1 cup fruit yogurt

½ c fat free whipped topping

Mix ingredients together.  Dip the fruit skewers in the dip and enjoy! 


Written by Melissa Williams, Dietetic Intern at VCUHS