This post was created in partnership with BCBSAZ but all thoughts are my own. I was recently invited to be a part of a Sugar Swap promoting Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s (BCBS) Nourishing Arizona campaign.” The goal of the event was to make it easier for the community to get free fresh fruits and vegetables. People visited the Uptown Farmers Market and swapped any food item with more than seven grams of sugar in exchange for $5 in Homegrown Healthy Bucks, good for fresh produce. The wrappers from the donated food items became part of a creative art installation made by a local artist.
It was an amazing event and I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of kids exchange their Halloween candy for something more nutritious. Getting kids involved in cooking, planning meals, and even shopping for fresh healthy foods can get them excited about eating well. Teaching kids from a young age the importance of healthy eating is one of the best lessons they can learn.
Eating local – and with the Seasons!
A lesson for all of us to learn is the importance of how to eat seasonally and locally. Doing so ensures that you are getting the most nutrient-dense and fresh foods. Produce starts losing its nutritional value as soon as it is harvested. Items that travel long distances to make it to your local grocery store lose vitamins and minerals along the way. When you buy locally, you are not only supporting your community, you’re also reaping more health benefits from your food.
Try it out!
I challenge you to start swapping out processed foods and unnatural sugar for some fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables. Roasted apple or pears sprinkled with cinnamon can replace sugary treats. Scrambled eggs with sauteed vegetables can replace that morning bowl of cereal. Start at home. Spend some time with your kids examining the food labels on some items in your pantry. Teach your kids about what to look at including looking for a low sugar content and how to spot processed ingredients. Even create your own type of Homegrown Healthy Bucks at home (use Monopoly money!) to get the kids more involved with grocery shopping.
Starting nutrition education at an early age can set your kids up for a lifetime of good habits. Getting them involved by shopping at your local farmers market is an educational activity and the kids can speak directly to the farmers about how food is grown. Then when you stock your fridge with some nutritious fruits and vegetables you can use the recipes below to get started cooking.
Here are some recipes I recommend that call for in-season produce: