Food, Nutrition and Health by the Month
National Food Days, Weeks & Months
Kayla Colgrove, MS, RD
Contributors: Kayla Colgrove, MS, RD, UNL Extension in Gage County; Alice Henneman, MS, RD, UNL Extension in Lancaster County; and Lisa Franzen Castle, MS, RD, PhD, Panhandle Research and Extension Center.
Questions or comments? Email Kayla Colgrove, MS, RD
You are welcome to link to our calendar.
Click on a link to find TIPS, RECIPES, and RESOURCES related to that day, week or month. Or simply scroll down the page.
National Food Days
- Child Health Day (1st Monday)
- Walk to School Day (October 3)
- Chocolate Day (October 28)
- Oatmeal Day (October 29)
- Halloween (October 31)
National Food Weeks
- National School Lunch Week (October 15-19)
- Bone and Joint Decade National Action Week (October 12-20)
National Food Months
- Apple Month
- Cranberry Month
- Eat Better, Eat Together Month
- Farm to School Month
- Pasta Month
- Popcorn Popping Month
- Pork Month
- Vegetarian Awareness Month
Nutrition and physical activity play an important role in a child's health. Staying healthy can be easy to remember when you think about five numbers. 5-4-3-2-1 Go! is a program that was developed by the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children. Each number represents the following:
Join kids and families around the globe to walk and bicycle to school on October 5 to promote physical activity. Check out this website to find out more information on Walk to School Day. Learn more about pedestrian safety to help kids stay safe on their walk to school. Make sure to check out the Walk Nebraska newsletter "Kids and Walking" for additional information.
Can you believe eating chocolate actually has health benefits? Chocolate contains flavonoid compounds that act as antioxidants:
Eating as little as 7 grams of dark chocolate may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Be careful though, eating too many calories from chocolate may lead to weight gain. Aim for eating 90 to 100 kcal/d of dark chocolate to gain health benefits without gaining weight. Learn more about Chocolate - A Functional Food.
Oatmeal has many nutritional benefits, and it is a great way to start your morning. Eating a bowl of oatmeal can help reduce blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and obesity. For a quick and inexpensive breakfast idea, learn how to make your own instant oatmeal packets. Find out more information about oatmeal by checking out A "Nutritionally Hot" Recipe for Oatmeal.
Here are some additional recipes using oatmeal:
5 Tips to a healthier Halloween:
Check out more Halloween ideas:
To see all the exciting things that are happening in School Lunch Programs, visit the School Meals that Rock Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of School Meals That Rock from Campbell County Schools, Gillette, Wyoming)
This national week focuses on arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, and trauma to increase awareness of prevention, disease management and treatments. Osteoporosis can be prevented by focusing on getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and regular exercise. 10 million Americans are estimated to have osteoporosis. 34 million more have low bone mass. Calcium and vitamin D are included in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines nutrients of concern list because consumption of dairy foods is lower than the recommended intake.
Good sources of calcium include:
Vitamin D is needed in order for your body to absorb calcium. Your body is able to get vitamin D from 3 sources such as sunlight, foods and supplements. The amount of vitamin D made by your skin depends on time of day, season, latitude, and skin pigmentation. Foods that are usually fortified with Vitamin D are milk, some yogurts, breakfast cereals, margarine, orange juice, and soy beverages. Natural sources of vitamin D include fish (e.g. salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna) and egg yolks. Recommended daily intake for vitamin D with minimal sun exposure is 600 IU/day for children and most adults and 800 IU for adults older than 70 years. Check out the National Osteoporosis Foundation to find more information about osteoporosis.
Did you know that there are around 100 varieties of apples grown commercially in the United States? Only 15 varieties of apples make up the majority of apple productions. Ever wondered about which apple to use for which recipe or when apples are in season? Check out this Apple Variety Guide from the U.S. Apple Association.
Try these Quick & Healthy Apple Recipes from Families, Food & Fitness:
Got an abundance of apples? Try tray-freezing apple slices for later use.
Cranberries may help prevent urinary tract infections. They also contain powerful antioxidants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Learn how to select, store, and prepare cranberries from Nebraska's Nutrition Education Program. Check out more cranberry recipes from US cranberries.
Eating family meals together leads to more nutritious meals and improved communication between children and adults. Check out Nebraska's Nutrition Education Program article titled, "The Importance of Family Mealtime". Have a busy schedule? Check out tips on how to have more family meals by Lisa Franzen-Castle, PhD, RD.
Contact your state's National Farm to School Network State Leader for ideas about celebrating this month.
Find additional resources on the National Farm to School website.
Visit the National Pasta Association's website for cooking tips and recipes. Learn how to prepare the perfect pasta or choose a pasta shape. The National Pasta Association offers tips to make healthy and quick cooking a reality. Choose MyPlate recommends a quarter of your plate to be filled with grains. A 1/2 cup of cooked pasta counts as 1 ounce equivalent from the grains group.
Eating popcorn is a great way to increase your intake of whole grains and your daily fiber intake. Be careful when adding toppings like butter and salt because it can turn into an unhealthy snack. Try to make popcorn with little or no added salt or butter. Check out Popcorn with Pizzazz recipe from Penn State Extension or Chili Popcorn from Kids Eat Right.
Eating pork is a great way to get protein and many important nutrients into your diet. Visit www.porkbeinspired.com for recipes that fall into 4 categories: health conscious, kid-friendly, leftover meal ideas, and quick & easy meals.