Monday Message

Article of the Week


Summer just isn’t quite summer without a trip to the amusement park but between the cotton candy, chili cheese fries and nachos, you may think your family is destined for a day of high-calorie, nutritionally empty meals and snacks. “Eating right at an amusement park can seem like an impossible feat, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Jim White, RDN, ACSM-HFS. “Now that people are more health conscious than ever, there are a surprising number of healthy options. You just need to know where to look for them.” Here’s how:

Scout it out:

While you’re walking through the park keep your eyes open for healthy options, and you’ll be surprised at what you can find. Skip the hot dogs and hamburgers, and go for a grilled chicken breast sandwich with a side salad or corn on the cob instead of fries. Other options: Squeeze in a serving or two of veggies with a veggie burger or grilled vegetable skewers.

BYO snacks:

Just because you’ll be at the park from dawn to dusk doesn’t mean you have to eat every meal there. Before you leave, serve up a healthy breakfast at home. That way you’ll know your family started the day fueled up and ready to go, and, if possible, bring nutritious snacks from home.  A few well-planned snacks can cut down on the number of meals you’ll have to buy and the amount of time you spend waiting in line for food….saving money and the family’s health! “A small bag of granola or nuts or a piece of fresh fruit can help hold kids over between meals and is a lot healthier than an ice cream sandwich,” says White. If the park you’re visiting doesn’t allow you to bring in food from outside you can still snack right. Many amusement parks now stock healthy nibbles like fresh fruit cups, yogurt, and even carrot and celery sticks.

Sip smart:

Super-sized sugar-filled drinks can bring lots of hidden, empty calories to the table. While fat-free or 1% milk or chocolate milk are great choices, so is water. “If it’s hot and everyone’s sweating, replenishing fluids is key for preventing dehydration,” says White. Encourage kids to hang on to their empty water bottles and refill them throughout the day rather than tossing them in the trash.

Don’t cave:

Nothing’s more frustrating than listening to your kids nag you for kettle corn, giant pretzels and funnel cake. While there’s certainly room for the occasional treat, don’t feel that you have to say yes to everything. A 2012 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study found that parents who were most permissive when it came to kids’ eating were the most likely to have children whose diets had the fewest nutrients.

Indulge – a little:

If most of the day’s meals and snacks are healthy, it’s completely OK for kids to have a small treat. Rather than snacking while walking through the park, encourage your children to sit down and savor their food. They’ll actually enjoy it more. If you are going to have a treat, try to save it for later in the day, says White. That way your kids won’t  stuff themselves with not-so-nutritious food the minute you get to the park and you can focus on what really matters – the fun.

Hot Tip of the Week


If you’ve picked up a package of hamburger meat, chicken breasts or pork chops lately, you might have noticed something new: Nutrition Facts. Certain meat products now require nutrition labeling.

Under the new USDA rule:

  1. All ground or chopped products (such as ground beef, ground pork and ground turkey) must have nutrition information on the package label.
  2. Major raw cuts of meat (such as steak, pork chops and chicken breast) must have nutrition information either on the label or on display to consumers, such as a sign or brochure, at the point-of-purchase.
  3. If a ground or chopped product includes a lean percentage statement on the label, it must also display the fat percentage. For example, it must say “90 percent lean/10 percent fat” rather than just “90/10.”

The nutrition label will show total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron, as well as serving size. Servings per container is required for ground and chopped products, but is not mandatory for the major cuts. It may be listed as varied. Also, the label may include an additional, optional statement of nutrient content as consumed (cooked).

Recipe of the Week

Cucumber Watermelon Salad


In Wisconsin, cucumbers and watermelon ripen at the same time. This recipe combines both to produce an unexpected, extraordinary salad.


  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 medium unpeeled cucumbers, washed, ends removed, sliced lengthwise then sliced crosswise
  • 3 cups watermelon, cut in 1-inch cubes (about 1 pound)


  1. Combine the lime juice, sugar and salt in a 2-quart bowl; whisk together. Stir in parsley.
  2. Add the cucumbers; toss with a rubber spatula, coating all cucumber pieces. Add the watermelon; fold in gently.
  3. Cover, set aside and allow juice from the watermelon to mix with the other juices. Stir gently and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Cooking Tip:

Choose a watermelon without a flat side and that sounds hollow when you knock on it. Look for a melon with a dull (not shiny) rind free of soft spots, gashes or blemishes.

Featured Video of the Week

Creamy Basil Pesto:


Enjoy this lower-fat, lower-calorie version of a classic creamy basil pesto. White beans are the secret ingredient!

Important Kids Eat Right links: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and KER website.

Tip of the Day

Got your dairy today? Choose fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt more often than cheese. When selecting cheese, choose low-fat or reduced-fat versions.

Choose My Plate


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