Healthy Buncombe: The Fitness and Nutrition Coalition

Healthy Buncombe

The Eat Smart Move More Coalition

Eat Smart - Move More Tips

Here are some tips for nutrition and fitness at home, work, and elsewhere to help you get started. Try some of these ideas from

Choose Your Eat Smart Tip:

How to Enjoy a Healthy Lunch

With the growing health concerns from obesity to diabetes our children are faced with more than just learning their ABC’s. Let’s get them off to a healthy start by making this year an Eat Smart, Move More Year!!

We need to talk to our children and teach them the importance of eating a healthy lunch that includes a variety of proteins, vegetables and fruits and whole grains. Let them know that it will help them grow strong, give them energy and help them do well in class.

When choosing a healthy cafeteria lunch, sit down with your child and talk about the options. Both school districts have their menus in a calendar style that you can access through their web page or through the school office. Use these menus to plan lunch wisely. These menus are based on providing a variety of nutrients with a healthy mix of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and calories. 

  • Encourage them to try all parts of the meal and not add extras.
  • Find out what healthy vegetables your child likes and highlight those days on the menu. If they like the vegetables, they are more likely to eat the whole meal instead of just the higher calorie entrées. Let these be the days that your child gets to eat the school lunch.
  • If a salad bar is available, discuss with your child how to make a healthy salad that includes some proteins like beans, low fat meats, nuts or seeds and a variety of vegetables instead of just lettuce and creamy dressings.

If your child takes a packed lunch, you can follow the same rules of making it a balanced lunch.

  • The healthiest lunch is one you prepare yourself. Pre-packaged lunches are generally high in fat, sodium and sugar and don’t offer much nutritional value.
  • Start with a list of simple list of basic options. Items like sandwiches, quesadillas, crackers with cheese and fruit or veggies with dip. Soup or beans and rice work well if you have a small thermos.
  • Think of what else you need to add for a balanced lunch. Have you included a grain, fruits and vegetables, and a protein?
  • Consider milk, 100% fruit juice, smoothies or water to drink. Avoid sugar added sodas or juice drinks.
  • Lunch schedules often start early, so the meal needs to stay with them. In addition to the carbohydrates needed for energy, make sure to include some protein.
  • For younger children, keep it simple and portions small. Cut whole sandwiches in halves or quarters and include small containers of several items to choose from so it’s manageable.
  • Have your child help. Kids are more likely to eat something they have chosen or helped pack.
  • Remember to include an ice pack if the lunch needs to stay cool. A frozen juice box can work well.
  • Remember to vary lunch choices.

Remember to talk to your child about what they are choosing at school or bringing from home. Let them know you care about what they are eating and want to help them make healthy choices.

For more tips on healthy school lunches visit or call Cathy Hohenstein at Buncombe County Cooperative Extension, (828) 250-5522

Freedom for Your Health

Declare your independence from unhealthy habits. July is the perfect time to revisit your resolutions to eat smart, move more and achieve a healthy weight - it's been six months since you set your resolutions for 2009. How have you kept your goals?

If you've fallen off track, you're not alone - most people abandon their resolutions before March arrives. Now is the time to pick up where you left off or to make new mid-year resolutions.
When revisiting your resolutions, or when making new ones, it is important to keep in mind the foundation for SMART resolutions. They should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

When making resolutions, write down all the details - make them as specific as possible. Spell out a way to track your progress (for example how many minutes per day or days per week). Make your resolutions challenging, but doable. Then, set a date to have reached your goal!

Fire Up The Grill

For any die hard grill-master, their motto is likely - if you can eat it, you can grill it. In many cases this is true. 
Grilling is a great way to cook up healthy, quick summer fare. Grilled foods are healthier options because you use less fat and oil when preparing them.  And as an added bonus cooking on the grill keeps your house cooler in the summer because you're taking the heat outside.

Here are some foods that cook up well when grilled - including some that may even surprise you.

  • Bread - Set your grill to medium and lightly brush thickly sliced bread with olive oil. Set bread on grill but be sure to keep an eye on it - it cooks up quickly in 1-2 minutes.
  • Fruit - Heat from the grill will caramelize sugars in the fruit to make a sweet treat. Think pineapple, pears, peaches, mango and melon. Spray the fruit with non-stick cooking spray and grill 2-4 minutes per side.
  • Pizza - Enjoy a crispy, thin crust, grilled pizza. Top a pre-made pizza shell and grill until the cheese melts and toppings are heated through, about 2-10 minutes.
  • Seafood - try shrimp, tuna, salmon and more. Grill for eight minutes per inch of thickness and temperature reaches 145 F.
  • Vegetables -Think bell peppers, corn on the cob and even sweet potato fries. Grill turning often 2-10 minutes per side.
  • Meats and poultry - For tasty chicken, pork chops, and steaks, cook until done or temperature reaches 165 F.

For more grilling ideas or to learn more about safe grilling at home call Cooperative Extension at (828) 255-5522 or email

Sun Safety

When heading outdoors it's easy to forget about sun safety. Use these tips to stay safe when you head outside to move more:

Wear sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher for maximum protection from the sun's rays. Look for a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection. When exercising, choose sunscreens labeled 'sport' or 'waterproof' to maximize their cancer-fighting benefits even when you sweat or are in the water.

Dress in moisture wicking clothing. From t-shirts and tank tops to shorts and socks, many clothing makers use special fabrics to help keep you comfortable during the steamy summer months. These types of clothing are great for outdoor activities because they draw moisture away from your body to keep you cool.

Choose light colors. Darker fabrics absorb the sun's heat and can make you feel hotter when outside for a long time.

Remember your hat or visor. Shield your eyes and protect your face from the sun by wearing a hat or visor. 

For more sun safety tips

Freshen Up Your Meals

June is when all the local produce markets get really exciting.  Broccoli and summer squash is just starting to come in.  Carrots, cucumbers and sugar snap peas are starting to show up and you can still find strawberries for another week or two.  By the end of the month we’ll see blueberries and blackberries.  Sweet corn and tomatoes are far behind.  If your household has picky eaters, a trip to a local tailgate market or the WNC Farmer’s market may encourage a little more adventurous eating.  If a child picks something out themselves, they are more likely to eat it.  Often you will find chefs cooking what’s in season and offering samples.  Many markets have music and the downtown City Market launched a Kid’s Corner with fun activities throughout the season. For information on a local tailgate market near you, visit: The Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market is located at 570 Brevard Road in Asheville.

Right-size to Reduce Risk

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Help your audience celebrate with these tips.
 Many factors - from your genes to the foods you eat - affect your risk for stroke. Some of these you can control. One great way to control your risk is to right-size your portions.
Larger portions mean extra calories which lead to extra pounds. These extra pounds increase your risk for stroke. Larger portions, especially from fast food other dishes can have high amounts of salt and cholesterol. For some people, too much salt can raise their blood pressure and increase their risk for stroke, while too much cholesterol can narrow blood vessels and lead to stroke.
Eat smaller portions, and eat slowly. Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits which are naturally low in salt and fat. You'll eat less and know you are doing your part to lower your stroke risk.

More information on right-sizing portions

Fresh, Low Cost Vegetables

This year, when plants turn green all around, save the green in your wallet and plant your own vegetable garden.
April is the right time to plant fresh, tasty and low cost veggies such as snap beans, broccoli, corn, cucumber, summer squash, pumpkins and tomatoes. You'll save money when you pick fresh veggies from your own garden from spring through fall.  It also is a great way to get in some regular physical activity.
Even if you don't have a huge backyard, you can still plant veggies in containers to keep on your balcony, patio or deck. All you'll need are sunlight, soil, and a few seeds or starter plants.  Look for the “Back to Basics” gardening classes at Pack Library this month.  Check out the Master Gardener Newsletter, Mountain Gardener, for more information, or call Cooperative Extension at (828) 255-5522 with your questions.

If you want to learn how to preserve your bounty to have through the winter months, come to the Food Preservation Made Easy class on Thursday April 23, 2009 from 6pm to 9:30pm at Buncombe County Cooperative Extension.  It will cover canning fruits, vegetables, meats, jams and jellies and pickles, as well as freezing and dehydrating foods.  There is a charge of $10 for materials and pre-registration is required.  Call Cooperative Extension to register or for more information.

Walking for Health

Walking is a great way to get exercise.  It doesn’t not require any extra equipment or commitment other than the appropriate clothing and finding the right time and place to walk.  Many of us live in walkable neighborhoods and therefore have no real barrier to getting out there and walking. 

Mark Fenton recently visited Asheville to talk about how the way our communities are built can impact our health.  His book, The Complete Guide to Walking, is a great tool to help you get started on creating your very own walking routine.  He explains that simple changes in your diet are not enough to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.  Exercise must be a part of the equation!  He describes how to develop your personal routine in an accessible way.  Here are some of his beginning suggestions:
Seeking variety will help you to maintain the activity without becoming bored and therefore giving up your exercise regimen and consequently, your goals.  Building up to walking longer, whenever possible, will help you to build stamina.  Building strength will enable you to tone your body and burn more calories as well as staying limber.  Walking every day, if possible, will rev up your metabolism and maintain any weight loss you may have.  Stretching is important for your muscles regardless of whether you exercise regularly or not.  However, stretching will enable you to avoid injury and stiffness that may occur with any exercise.  I hope these beginning tips will inspire you with any exercise regimen you may be considering and if walking is one of them,

Fortunately many of our neighborhoods have safe, convenient places to walk.  If your neighborhood is not a comfortable place to walk consider visiting one of our many parks.  If you need help finding a local park visit the walking page.

Happy Trails!

Download a Sample Walking Program

Eat Smart, Move More, Go Green

Tips for helping the environment while eating smart and moving more.

As energy prices rise and warnings trigger questions about food safety, a growing number of consumers are "going green" and stores are offering organic foods and eco-friendly products to tap into consumer concerns about their health and the environment. How can we Eat Smart and Move More, while also being environmentally friendly? To that end, the Eat Smart, Move More and Go Green guide provides easy suggestions for adopting healthy behaviors that will also help save the environment. The guide includes 21 simple tips to help consumers eat healthier, be more physically active and be environmentally friendly at the same time!
There are ideas on how to be environmentally conscious while following each of the seven Eat Smart, Move More NC key messages i.e. Prepare More Meals at Home, Tame the Tube, Choose to Move More Everyday, Right-Size your Portions, Re-think your Drink, Enjoy More Fruits and Veggies and Breastfeed your Baby.

For example, making sure that we recycle all clean aluminum cans, foil and pans, plastic bottles and glass jars as we use these items to prepare meals at home.

The NC Division of Public Health developed this guide in partnership with NC Cooperative Extension and NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources to support the Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina movement.

Cool Savings

Frozen foods are a money saver and many (like fruits and vegetables) are packed with nutrients. Not to mention, they are convenient. But it's not always easy to know which are the healthiest to buy. Armed with these tips, you can help your audience to eat smart by saving time, money and their waistlines.
Keep it simple. Stick with the basics - fruits and vegetables. Stock up on vegetables you can add to soups, lunches and dinners. Frozen fruits can be added to cereal or blended to make a quick breakfast smoothie. Add frozen berries to yogurt for a healthy dessert.
Watch out for sauces. Sauces add extra calories and can pack on the pounds. They also can have hidden sodium and sugar. Choose frozen fruits and veggies without any added sauces or syrups.
Choose lean protein. All you need are the basics for a quick weeknight meal. Chicken, fish, seafood and lean meats are all available in the freezer section and are great to have on hand for a fast dinner. Simply add vegetables and a side of brown rice or whole grain pasta.

5 Yummy Peanut Free Lunches

Peanut butter is a staple of the kid’s lunchbox.  Between schools needing to go Peanut Free due to severe allergies to the recent recalls of many of our peanut products, parents are challenged to find easy, healthy lunches that kids will love. 

The following are 5 Quick and Healthy Lunch ideas from Eating Well magazine. 

5 Quick Healthy Lunch Recipes:

  1. Strawberry & Cream Cheese Sandwich: Sliced strawberries and reduced-fat cream cheese come together in a sandwich for this quick and healthy lunchbox treat.
  2. Buffalo Chicken Wrap: Moms and Dads like wraps because they're neat and compact--so beware: ours is messy and spicy. This fiery combination of buffalo chicken in a modern wrap is guaranteed to drip. Get out the big napkins and have a ball!
  3. Mini Greek Pizza Muffins: Nearly everyone loves pizza and these mini muffins are totally portable too. All the flavors of a Greek pizza make these savory muffins bite-size treats for adults and kids alike.
  4. Pizza Roll-Up Bento Lunch: This easy pizza-inspired roll-up is a kid-pleaser and costs less than $3 per serving. Make crunchy vegetables more appealing by selecting colorful varieties like orange and purple cauliflower—and don’t forget the dip! Keep ’em smiling with watermelon cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters.
  5. Turkey & Pepper Roll-Up: Crunchy bell pepper strips rolled in deli turkey (you can use ham too) makes a simple and satisfying protein-packed pick-me-up.

For more lunch ideas from Eating Well visit:

Visit this FDA website for more information about the safety of peanut products and salmonella risks: FDA Salmonella page.  You can call CDC's 24/7 toll-free public inquiries hotline (1-800-CDC-INFO or 1-800-232-4636) to get phone assistance looking up particular foods that appear on the recall list.

For more information on food safety and food allergies you can call Cooperative Extension at (828) 255-5522.

For yourself or your worksite....It's time to buy your CSA share!

Wintertime is the time to shop around for your Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share. Over 32 local farms participate in a CSA program. You can get started with your research into the best farm to meet your needs by talking to others who have a CSA share. The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Food Guide lists local farms participating as Community Supported Agriculture providers. For a complete list visit:
Essentially, a CSA is a subscription to a local farm. Customers sign up for a share during the winter and get a weekly shipment of fresh produce during the spring, summer and fall. CSAs vary in what they offer. Some offer vegetables, some include fruit and other farms may include flowers, honey or jam. A CSA box typically contains enough food for a family of four to eat for a week.
Several worksites in Buncombe County have a worksite CSA program where produce is delivered directly to the worksite. Some farmers will designate a central location for pick-up such as at a tailgate market.
In February and March many local farmers will fill up the shares of their CSAs with priority given to previous customers. Now is the time to call up a farmer to chat and see if there is room to add your family or group into the lucky list of farm supporters who benefit from receiving the freshest locally grown produce available. Ask about what they grow and how the food is grown, organically or conventionally.
It is no secret that eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to stay healthy. Having a CSA shares makes it easy! If you would like to borrow a copy of our CSA at the Worksite video, please contact Terri March at

View the Worksite Wellness Video [Windows Media]

Eating Smart and Saving Money

With the all the economic uncertainty, the usual New Year’s resolution to eat healthier may have taken a back burner.  Even if you are unsure about spending a lot of money on healthier foods that seem expensive on your grocery list, there are many ways to eat smart without spending a lot of money.

  • Look for foods when they go on sale and stock up at that point.  You can freeze 100% whole grain breads for later use.
  • Start your day off with hot oatmeal.  Get the 1 minute or 5 minute varieties and season with your own cinnamon and/or raisins.  This is quick, hot, nutritious breakfast that can be made while you get dressed.  Boil up the water add the oatmeal and simmer for the 1 or 5 minutes. Turn off and go get dressed.  You can even make it in the microwave.  This is better than the individual packets which can have added calories and less fiber.
  • Add whole grain brown rice.  Remember you only need ½ for a serving so make some up and freeze the rest for a later meal.
  • Buy in-season vegetables but only the amounts you need, this way you don’t spend money of produce that will go bad.  If the bunch of greens are too big for your family find a friend to go in on the cost with you.
  • Stock up on frozen vegetables that are on sale and can easily be heated up for a meal.  These are usually lower in sodium than canned vegetables.  You also can only use the amount you’ll eat and put the remainder back in the freezer.  Just remember to use freezer bags to avoid freezer burn that can occur during longer storage.
  • Decrease your serving size of expensive proteins such as meats.  Keep your serving to 2 – 3 ounces or ¼ of your plate.
  • Use low cost proteins like eggs or dried beans more often.
  • Avoid buying empty calories, like chips, convenience meals, sweetened drinks and sodas.  These may seem like cheaper food choices but if they don’t provide nutrients, the future cost to our health may outweigh the cheaper price now.
  • Plan more meals at home.  We all tend to spend more when eating out.
  • Lastly, remember to plan ahead before shopping.  Make a list of what you need and not what looks good.  Eat a snack or meal before going to the grocery store to help avoid those unneeded purchases we make when we are hungry.

Safe Cycling

More people in Buncombe County seem to be commuting by bike to work or to run errands.  Not only is it a good way to save gas, but it is a great way to get some exercise. However, riding in traffic is a skill that many of us are not entirely comfortable with even when we do it on a regular basis.

Healthy Buncombe and the Asheville Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force are hosting a Road 1 bicycle education class on Saturday, October 18th from 8:30- 3:00 at the YWCA on S. French Broad Avenue.  The cost of the course is $15 for materials.  You’ll need to bring your bike, helmet, and a bag lunch.
The class will:

  • Review traffic rules that will insure the bicyclist rides safely and effectively in traffic.
  • Give information on where to ride on the road that will make the bicyclist predictable and visible.
  • Defensive maneuvers and skills that will help bicyclist avoid collisions with cars.
  • Give the bicyclist confidence to ride with traffic by giving practice on skills.

Beware of the Kids' Meal

Many times, people hear that they can order the kids' meal at fast food restaurants to save calories. While it is true that the portions in kids' meals are more in line with what portions sizes should be, often kids meals are still very high in calories and fat.
 For example, Happy Meal at McDonald's consisting of a cheeseburger, small fries and a low-fat chocolate milk totals 700 calories and 26 grams of fat. A Mighty-Kid's Meal of a double cheeseburger, small fries and a low-fat chocolate milk tips the scales at 840 calories and 37 grams of fat.
 A Burger King kids' meal with a four-piece chicken nuggets, small fries and low-fat chocolate milk is 600 calories and 26.5 grams of fat.
 An easy way to reduce the calories and fat in kids' meals is to forgo the fries. If there is an option for fruit or a small salad, choose that instead. Otherwise, either ask for the restaurant to hold the fries or don't eat them. 100% fruit juice is lower in calories than the chocolate milk. Water is an even better choice.
Find more McDonald's nutrition info:
For more Burger King nutrition info:,-1,-1

Eating Smart and Moving More While On Vacation

July is a great time to revisit our New Year’s Resolutions, especially those for eating smarter and moving more. Unfortunately, vacations can derail these resolutions. Vacations are meant for relaxation and rejuvenation. But that doesn’t mean your healthy eating and physical activity plan can’t go with you.

Fitting healthy foods and physical activity into vacation can seem impossible, especially when thinking about travel time in the car and all the meals you eat out. But follow these simple tips and you’ll see how easy a healthy vacation can be.

  1. Choose activities that fit where you are. If you are at the beach, get up from the lounge chair and play in the water with your kids. Take a walk on the beach, rent a kayak and paddle around, or rent a bike and explore the area. If you are in the mountains, take a hike and enjoy the scenery. If your vacation is planned at an amusement park, wear a pedometer and track your steps throughout the day. Most people walk several miles during their day at the park.

  2. Plan ahead for healthy snacks. Instead of buying ice cream at the beach vendor, pack some healthier snacks in a small cooler and carry it out to the beach with you. Whole wheat crackers and low-fat cheese, cut-up fruit and fresh veggies, even peanut butter sandwiches are all good options. If you are going somewhere that doesn’t allow you to bring in food, check before you go to see which vendors have the healthiest fare.

  3. Choose wisely at restaurants. It is nearly impossible to avoid eating out while on vacation. But that doesn’t mean that you have to eat unhealthy foods. Look online for menus before you go so you can choose restaurants that have healthier options. If you want to splurge on one not-so-healthy meal while at your destination, go ahead. Just eat lighter for the rest of the day.

  4. Take some breaks. If your vacation requires a long car ride, plan to take some longer breaks at rest stops along the way. Get out of the car and walk around for 15 minutes. You’ll get to stretch your legs, and if you do that twice, you’ll get in 30 minutes of activity for the day.

You can have the fun of your vacation and still keep up with your resolutions to eat smart and move more.

Being Active during the Summer is Fun

Six months have passed since you made your New Year’s Resolutions. If you resolved to be more physically active, now is a great time to revisit that decision, or give it a little push.
With longer days and warmer weather, the opportunities for outdoor fun are endless. Take advantage of this time to try some new activities or just enjoy the ones you already love. Either way, moving more every day is easy during the summer.

Try some of these fun summer activities:

  1. Go for a swim. There’s nothing like cooling off during a hot day like taking a dip in the pool or lake. Swimming is an excellent exercise. It burns many calories and is easy on your joints. Try doing a couple of extra laps the next time you jump in.
  2. Gear up for a bike ride. Enjoy the weather, save money and benefit the environment by biking to the movies, the post office or just out to lunch. Biking provides the advantage of door-to-door transport and worry-free parking. In addition, biking burns calories, builds muscles and is easier on your joints than running. Plus, there’s nothing like a bike ride through the country to make you feel like a kid again.
  3. Pick up a racket. Grab a friend or three and hit the courts for a game of tennis or badminton. It is great for hand-eye coordination and a fun way to exercise with others. If you aren’t up to playing a game, just hit some balls or shuttlecocks back and forth. You also get the added benefit of running after all of the ones you miss!
  4. Explore nature. North Carolina is home to a great many nature parks. From the mountains to the beach, there are waterfalls, forests, and marshes with walking and hiking trails for you to discover the world around you. Hikes can be found for all levels of experience and ability, so take the whole family and enjoy the fresh air – exercise together!
  5. Play ball! Baseball is the national pastime, and summer is a great time to get out your bat and glove. Gather your friends together for friendly game. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
  6. If you find that the heat and humidity of North Carolina’s summers put a damper on your activity plans, try exercising earlier or later in the day. It is usually cooler first thing in the morning or later in the evening. Be sure to wear clothing that wicks moisture away from your skin to help you stay cooler. Carry a water bottle with you and try to choose walking, running, or biking paths that are mostly shaded. This will help you stay cooler, too.

With all of these great activities and more, there is no reason to spend the summer sitting indoors. Get out and move more!

Enjoy More Fruits and Veggies this Summer

Remember that resolution you made in January to eat more fruits and veggies? Now is the time to reach under the bed, pull it out and dust that resolution off. Summer is a great time to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables.

There are so many delicious fruits and vegetables available at this time of the year, there is no reason not to live up to your resolution. Tomatoes, watermelon, broccoli, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, corn and many more are all in season. When produce is in season, it is fresher and usually less expensive.

If your New Year’s resolution was to eat more fruits and veggies, now is the time to re-visit it with these simple tips.

  1. Have a salad for one meal a day. These days, salads are not the boring bowls of lettuce they use to be. Toss together different combinations of lettuce, chopped vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans, low-fat cheese, fish or grilled chicken, and low-fat dressing for a delicious and very easy lunch or dinner.
  2. Throw some corn on the grill at your next barbecue. Leave it in the husk or wrap it in foil for a healthy addition to your meal.
  3. Surprise yourself with fruit. Berries are a very versatile fruit. They go well in baked goods, make delicious sauces for meats, and are tasty in salads and desserts. Try adding some blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries to your next recipe.
  4. Have a slice of watermelon. Nothing says lazy summer days in the South like a big juicy slice of watermelon.
  5. Visit your local farmer’s market. For the freshest produce, go to the farmers’ market and buy fruits and veggies that don’t travel as far. Most foods travel 1,500 miles before they get to your table. You might be surprised to find out what is grown near you and how tasty it can be!

Revisit Your Resolutions to Eat Smart, Move More

Every January, thousands of North Carolinians make vows to eat smarter, move more, and lose those extra pounds they have been carrying around. Whether your New Year’s Resolution was to be active five days a week, eat more fruits and vegetables, or choose water over soda or sweet tea, chances are you have long forgotten it. You are not alone.

The majority of people abandon their New Year’s Resolutions by mid-February. Individual reasons may vary, but the truth is – change is hard. With some good tips and determination, you can succeed. Now is the time to revisit your old resolutions or make new Mid-Year Resolutions.
When thinking about making a healthy change in your lifestyle, keep the 5 P’s of change in mind.

  1. Proper Goals. Proper goals are reasonable and specific. Set small goals that you know you can reach. When you reach one goal, set a new one. Make your goals specific. Don’t just say you want to lose weight, specify how much you want to lose and by when.
  2. Plan. Once you have set your goals, make a plan as to how you are going to reach them. For example, if your goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables, you could decide you are going to substitute a piece of fruit for your usual mid-morning snack and eat at least two vegetables with dinner every night.
  3. Progress. Track your progress along the way. As with every new endeavor, it is important to monitor how you are doing so if things veer off track, you can quickly correct them. Keep a food log or an activity log, depending on your goal. You may want to track how you are feeling about your goal each day and the things that derail you so you can be prepared the next time they occur. A food diary, activity log and weight loss log can be found by visiting the “Revisit your Resolutions” link on Healthy Buncombe’s website.
  4. People. Make yourself accountable to the people in your life. Tell someone or several people about your goal and ask them to hold you accountable. It is easier to keep yourself motivated if you know someone else is watching your progress. But be sure to hold yourself accountable, too. After all, you are making these changes for yourself.
  5. Perseverance. Remember that stuff happens. Even the most dedicated of people will have setbacks every now and then. When that happens, don’t let it ruin all the progress you are making. Forgive yourself, make note of what caused the setback and make a plan to combat it the next time, and then get right back on your healthy eating or activity plan.

When it comes to healthy eating and physical activity, it’s never too late to pick back up an old goal, or make a new one. Make this the year that you keep your resolutions!
For more tips on healthy lifestyles visit

School’s Out!

For many students across the state, June is a special month because school is out for the summer. But that can mean many more opportunities for not-so-healthy foods.

From the ice cream truck to the concession stands at the local pool and ball park to snacking while watching mid-day cartoons, kids have the opportunity to consume many calorie-laden foods during the summer. Help your audience keep their kids healthy and happy this summer by providing tips and ideas for healthy snacks.

For more information on healthy snacking, check out the Eat Smart North Carolina: Snacks and Drinks guide to choosing snacks and beverages

Finally Spring Is Here!!!

Finally Spring is here!  Therefore, spring ahead, spring into action, and take a spring break from your everyday doldrums.  This is an ideal time to begin taking advantage of the outdoors and later daylight hours.  You may decide to take a walk after dinner or perhaps sit on your front porch chatting with a neighbor.  But for more fun, grab your family and friends and play a game in your yard!

Try making your own scavenger hunt by forming groups of 2 or more and listing several common neighborhood items.  For example list forsythia flowers, new spring leaves, or sight a bird’s nest.  Offer a few hard to find items for more of a challenge.  This is a great way for you to get to know your neighbors and have a lot fun.  Offer everyone a cool refreshment afterwards by freezing some fruit juice for homemade popsicles.

Another game to try would be a modified form of Ultimate Frisbee.  You will need a Frisbee, a large rectangular space to play in, and some way to distinguish between teams, for example, everyone on one team wears white t-shirts.  The aim of the game is to connect passes between teammates, there is no running with the Frisbee and once it is caught, you may only take 2 steps before throwing it to a team mate, and finally to catch the Frisbee in the endzone to score a point.  There are usually 15 points in a round, but you may play for 5 before changing from offense to defense.  Anytime the Frisbee hits the ground the teams switch from offense to defense.  The Frisbee must be thrown, no hand-offs and the defense play is about a forearms length away, so there is no physical contact.  Defenders may not grab the Frisbee out of an opponent’s hand, but may intercept it.  To learn more about Ultimate Frisbee go to

Everyone enjoy the weather, get outside and play some games.

12 Reasons to Develop a Regular Eating Routine

With the Spring weather and the longer days many of us ease up on our meal or eating routines.  Here are some reasons on why having an eating routine helps us stay healthy.  Remember even with busy schedules we can have some structure in our lives.

  • Food is everywhere:
    From the gas station to the mall, from the vending machine to the chips at home. Without a regular eating routine, it can be hard to resist temptation.
  • Grazing can lead to overeating:
    Without an eating routine, it’s easy to graze on whatever food you find. Many people keep picking at food without ever feeling satisfied.
  • Skipping meals can lead to overeating:
    Trying to eat less by skipping breakfast or lunch often backfires, and you end up eating more calories in snacks and dinner.
  • Getting over-hungry can lead to overeating:
    When you are really hungry, it is hard to make healthy choices. It’s also hard to eat slowly and to stop when you are satisfied.
  • Mindless eating can lead to overeating:
    It’s also hard to make healthy choices and to stop eating when you are doing other things, like driving, reading and watching TV.
  • Television can lead to overeating:
    TV advertisements and shows are full of food cues that make you want to eat whether you are hungry or not.
  • Routines help maintain a healthy weight:
    Establishing regular times and places to eat helps prevent overeating and helps you balance your eating with your activity level.
  • Routines help build healthy habits:
    Develop a routine of cutting up fruit after dinner for a naturally sweet dessert.
  • Routines help with planning and shopping:
    When you eat regular meals and snacks, it is easier to plan healthy choices and easier to make shopping lists.
  • Routines help save money:
    Buying food on impulse is usually more expensive. It’s much cheaper to plan ahead and have healthy choices around when you want to eat.
  • Children do better with a regular eating routine:
    Regular meals and snacks help children maintain the ability to eat when hungry and stop when satisfied.
  • Different routines work better for different people:
    Some people feel better with three meals and a snack; others prefer five smaller meals. Choose the best routine for you!

Walking Works Wonders

With the Spring weather abounding, take the time to enjoy a good walk.  Want to lose fat, get fit and have more energy? Want to improve your blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of disease? Amazingly, you can get all these benefits (and many more) from just putting one foot in front of the other!

  1. WALK regularly
  2. The key to fitness is consistency. Start by picking a walk (or several small walks) that fits into your schedule . a walk to work, a walk to school, a walk at lunch or a walk around the block. Make your walk a top priority . and aim for walking at least five days a week.

  3. WALK 10,000 steps a day
  4. Research shows that walking 10,000 steps a day is all it takes to reduce stress, improve health and reduce the risk of disease. With an inexpensive pedometer, it’s fun (and easy) to see how quickly your steps add up from simple changes like taking the stairs.

  5. WALK for transportation
  6. Using your legs instead of a car is one of the most efficient ways to fit fitness into your day. Try walking to the grocery store, the post office or the restaurant. If walking all the way takes too long, park in a central location . then walk back and forth to your car.

  7. WALK for fun
  8. Walking + friends or kids or dog = FUN! A daily walk can do double duty . as a daily dose of companionship with friends, a time to connect with family or a way to keep your pets strong and healthy. It can also be a relaxing solo time to think or listen to music.

  9. WALK outside
  10. In almost any weather, walking outside is possible with the right clothes and shoes. Look for safe sidewalks, country roads and parks. Athletic fields are also fun to walk around. The ground is usually smooth . and watching a practice or game makes the time fly by.

  11. WALK inside
  12. Remember, every steps counts. every step around the house, around the office or around the mall. You can walk around the house during TV commercials, walk around the office during break time and walk around the mall before or after a shopping trip. 

For more tips on walking or links to routes to take visit our walking page.

For more tips on how to get active this Spring, check out our article on Spring Activities.

Local Produce: Fresher, Tastier, and Sustainable

The local tailgate market season is gearing up to begin and early season offerings typically include a variety of greens, including Romaine, head lettuce, arugula and a favorite spinach.  This bright vivid green vegetable is nutrient dense, can befriend many ingredients in a variety of tasty dishes and offers two very distinct textures, raw or cooked. 

Spinach is often considered a perfect food because it has so much to offer. Indeed it does, with the exception of calories, fat and protein. Spinach is a good source of vitamin A important for vision, growth, reproduction, bone development, protecting the immune system and provides antioxidant protection. Spinach also supplies vitamin K, necessary for blood clotting and bone health (individuals taking anti-blood clotting medications should use caution when eating foods high in vitamin K- discuss this with a health care professional).

A large serving provides substantial calcium; one cup of cooked spinach provides almost 250mg or roughly one-fourth the daily requirement for an adult. However, there are substances called oxalates present in spinach that hinder the absorption of calcium. Just as Popeye insisted, spinach contains iron, an important mineral necessary for transporting oxygen throughout the body, but the availability of iron from plant foods may be low.
Substances naturally found in food are provided in varying amounts such that consuming a wide variety of foods will ensure a healthy balance. Spinach is a nutrient dense part of this approach and just one of the hundred options to choose from when attempting to achieve up to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, the current recommendation in the food guidance system My Pyramid (more information can be found at

Here is a simple spinach salad recipe to enjoy this tasty local offering:

  • 5-ounce package spinach
  • 3-4 green onions (scallions) chopped into small pieces (white and green parts)
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, shells removed, chopped or sliced
  • Dressing: 2 TB fresh lemon juice, 6 TB olive oil, 1 garlic clove minced, ¾ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, ½ tsp dry mustard, ½ tsp sugar

Mix salad ingredients (except eggs) in a large bowl.  Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.  Pour dressing over the salad and toss to combine.  Add eggs to top of salad.

Another way to enjoy fresh spinach is replace part of the lettuce or other green with baby spinach leaves next time you make your favorite salad.  The spinach will add a bit more deep green color, a “crisper” texture, as well as a nutrient punch.

Nutrition: It’s a Matter of Fact

During National Nutrition Month®, the American Dietetic Association urges consumers to look beyond the myths of nutrition and focus on the facts.  Remember, the theme for 2008 is Nutrition:  It’s a Matter of Fact.

The Experts at ADA have identified the following facts:

  1. Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated.  Use to develop a personalized plan for lifelong health.
  2. The best nutrition advice is based on science.  Before adopting any changes to your diet, be sure the information is based in scientific fact.
  3. Get your food and nutrition facts from the expert:  a registered dietitian, RD’s are uniquely qualified to translate the science of nutrition into reliable advice you can use every day.
  4. Balancing physical activity and a healthful diet is your best recipe for managing weight and promoting overall health and fitness.
  5. Think nutrient-rich rather than “good” or “bad” foods.  The majority of your food choices should be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients –and lower in calories.
  6. Look at the big picture:  No single food or meal makes or breaks a healthful diet.  Your total diet is the most important focus for healthful eating.
  7. Prepare, handle and store food properly to keep you and your family safe from food-borne illness.
  8. Don’t fall prey to food myths and misinformation that may harm rather than benefit your health.
  9. Read food labels to get nutrition facts that help you make smart food choices quickly and easily.
  10. Find the healthy fats when making food choices.  By choosing polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, you can keep your saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol low.

Move More in Asheville

Once of the best ways to be active is to work physical activity into your daily routine.  Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Park further away from your destination.  This is an easy way to build in 10-20 minutes for exercise into your day.
  • Walk to lunch. A 15 minute walk to and from a restaurant will help you meet the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Only 30 minutes for lunch?  Get your meal to go and eat at your desk.
  • Walk to conduct errands.  Think about what businesses are located downtown that you can visit to help you run your errands…post office, bank, library, drug store, book store, County and City offices.  There’s a lot you can do without getting in your car.
  • Walk with friends or colleagues.  Join (or start) a walking group and schedule regular walks together.  Try walking meetings.  They can be very creative ways to get work done and no one nods off!

Let Downtown on the Move Help!

Check out the Downtown on the Move Calendar for free classes and walking groups offered from February until April at

For more information, attend the kick-off event January 30th at the YMI Cultural Center.  Free classes, health information, food samples and door prizes will be available from 12-2 and 4-6.

Veggies and Fruits: The Other White Foods

Even with the cold months of winter upon us, we are able to have many vegetables and fruits on our table.  Whether they are the fresh seasonal produce or the ones frozen or canned from the warmer months, the white, brown and tan vegetables and fruits bring many benefits to our health.  Examples of what these fruits and vegetables contain are phytochemicals like allicins in the garlic and onion family, and the mineral, selenium which is found in mushrooms.  White veggies and fruit are also a part of a low fat diet and can help in maintaining our heart health, cholesterol levels and even decrease the risk of some cancers.  So, look to add, bananas, brown pears, dates, white nectarines and white peaches as your fruits and cauliflower, garlic, ginger, Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, kohlrabi, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, shallots, turnips and white corn as your vegetables.

Travel Well

Whether it’s over the river and through the woods, across town, or across an ocean, ‘tis the season to visit Grandma. With the evolution of transportation, it has become easier and faster to visit those distant relatives. But after packing the car, tuning the radio, popping in a DVD for the kids, who has time to think about healthy eating and fitting in some activity?

With multiple fast food restaurant signs flying high above almost every highway exit, it is tempting to just “grab something on the road.” Especially if you hear that little voice coming from the back of the car saying, “I’m hungry.” After a few days of traveling, you may have to clear away the burger wrappers to find your luggage.

Flying isn’t much easier. Healthy food options are an endangered species in airport terminals and you never know if you will be stuck for hours waiting on a delayed flight. That sugary snack may seem like a good idea at the time, but rather than calming your travel-weary child, it can only make him or her more irritable. Passengers in the next terminal may not appreciate hearing children shout their wish lists loud enough for Santa to hear.

Luckily, a few moments of planning can help ensure you stay the course of your weight maintenance goal and keep your children’s names from moving over to the Naughty list.

Before you leave the house, pack your sneakers and running or walking attire. Throw in some exercise bands and/or a jump rope. No matter what happens on your trip, you will be able to get in some activity.

If traveling by car, plan your route. Do some research and find what restaurants are in the areas where you would like to stop. The Internet is an excellent resource for researching what restaurants are available in different areas. Many restaurants have menus and nutrition information online as well. Before departing, pick a place that serves healthier options as your stopping point. Also, pack some healthier snacks in a cooler in the car. Bottled water, fruit, whole wheat bite-sized cereal, and low-fat string cheese are good options. When planning your trip, check out the locations off state-owned rest stops along the way. Most of these offer areas where you can get out and stretch your legs and the kids can burn off some energy.

If traveling by plane, pack some snacks as well. You can’t take bottled water through security, but you can take many food items. Be sure to pack things your kids like to eat. Low-fat granola bars travel well. Buy bottled water in the terminal. You can add an individual-sized packet of zero- or low-calorie flavoring to make it more exciting. While you are waiting for your flight, walk around. You’ll be sitting on the plane, so get in some steps prior to boarding.

Once at your destination, be sure to stick to your healthy eating and activity plan. It can be difficult if you are not preparing the food, so offer to cook a meal or two for your host and then do the grocery shopping. If you know you will be eating out for most meals, choose healthier options and look for restaurants that serve them.

Fit in your activity by taking a daily walk or jog, or using that jump rope and those exercise bands you packed. Since you are in a new place, walk around to see the sights and decorations with your hosts.

Traveling during the holidays can be exciting, stressful, and unpredictable. It doesn’t have to derail your efforts to avoid gaining weight. The trick is to plan ahead.

The Art of Healthy Gift Giving

Around October, children and children-at-heart begin making their wish list of items they hope to receive during the holiday season. Friends and family begin scurrying around after Thanksgiving looking for the perfect gifts for their loved ones. While video games, complete series of TV programs and new computer gadgets will be more popular than ever this year, consider giving gifts that encourage health.

Not sure where to start? There are many ideas out there that will help your loved ones eat smarter and move more.

For the children on your list, sports equipment is always a fun gift. Bats, gloves, soccer balls, tennis rackets and balls, and basketballs are great ideas for the budding athlete in your family. If you want to splurge, a new bike, roller skates, or roller blades are a great way to get kids to be more active. For a less expensive gift, a new Frisbee, jump rope or a Hula Hoop are fun toys. Many old games are making a comeback. Sets of croquet, bocci, and even badminton are showing up on the shelves.

To help your children eat smarter, fun lunch boxes and colorful child-sized plastic containers make taking lunch to school a treat. For the budding chef in your family, some specialty food stores offer kids’ cooking classes.

Adults who are trying to be more active will appreciate new work out gear. Jump ropes, hand weights, resistance bands or workout videos are also good ideas. An introductory session for an exercise class, dance class or an appointment with a personal trainer might be what they need to get moving. Help you loved ones carry their gear to the gym in a new gym bag or give them a reusable water bottle to help them stay hydrated. If there is someone you want to splurge on, give them in iPod or other MP3 player so they can listen to their favorite tunes while they are being active. 

Cooking classes, kitchen gadgets, cookware, and pretty serving dishes are all nice gifts for the adults in your life who are trying to eat smarter. Cookbooks or a subscription to a healthy lifestyle magazine will be enjoyed year round.

And for all of those people you usually remember during the season with containers of cookies and fudge, try giving mugs with gourmet teabags, an assortment of nuts, bottles of special cooking oils like walnut or a flavorful olive oil or a basket of fruit instead.

Remember that saying, “It’s the thought that counts”? Instead of trying to give the biggest, most expensive gift this year, give ones that say you are thinking about your loved ones and their health.

Navigating the Holiday Party

One of the best things about the season is the multitude of cocktail parties, dinners with co-workers, dessert get-togethers with friends, caroling excursions, and family get-togethers. All of this quality time with friends and family helps one to feel truly connected and loved.

Unfortunately, most of these festivities are centered around food, which can be a challenge for those of us trying to maintain our weight this season. After several weeks of enjoying all of the goodies these parties offer, anyone’s pants will seem a bit tighter. But with a few strategies and planning ahead, you can safely navigate your way through the holiday get-togethers without gaining weight.

If you are the host or hostess, help your guests by preparing some lower-fat, lower calorie options. Make sure there are fruits or vegetables on the buffet and stock your bar with diet soft drinks to use as mixers.

You can also help your guests downsize their portions. When setting out foods, use smaller serving pieces or only fill the large ones half-way. People tend to take bigger portions from larger bowls filled with food. You can always replenish a bowl if it starts to run low. For desserts, cut them into small, bite-sized portions and serve in mini-muffin papers. Your guests will be able to try a couple different desserts without the guilt of eating three full-sized pieces of cake or pie. Lastly, instead of buying the jumbo-sized plates for your guests, choose smaller ones. Studies show that using smaller dishes decreases serving sizes.

When planning your event, plan some fun activities that get people moving. Take your guests out for a walk to see the lighted decorations in your neighborhood, or plan some caroling. Dancing is always a fun party event.

If you are the party guest, exercise and eat a healthy snack before you go. Then take your place at the back of the buffet line. You won’t be starving and overload your plate, and some of the heavier items may be gone by the time you get there.

After you have eaten, stand away from the buffet and the bar. If they are out of your sight, you will be less tempted to get an extra helping or another drink. Keep your hands full by carrying around a low-calorie drink or a camera. Offer to be the party photographer. You won’t have a free hand for that extra plate of food.

Lastly, be a good guest. Offer to bring a healthy dish to add to the meal or buffet. Once at the party, go light on the alcohol. Not only will you consume fewer calories, you won’t have to worry about your co-worker re-enacting your version of jingle-bell rock at work the next week.

Keeping these strategies will help you get through the holiday festivities while maintaining your weight.

Cooking with a Light Touch

When cooking your holiday meal this Thanksgiving, here are some tips on making the dishes healthier.  Plan ahead and try some of these changes before you make them for Thanksgiving or other Holiday celebrations.

  • Reduce the Fat – You can reduce the fat in most recipes without changing the quality of the end result, by 1/4 to 1/3.  You can also replace some of the fat in baked goods by replacing 1/2 of the fat with applesauce or other fruit purees.
  • You can also reduce the sugar by 1/4 to 1/3 and increase the sweet spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, or vanilla.
  • If the sugar or fat is in the recipe just for flavoring, you can decrease them to match your tastes.
  • Use non-stick baking pans, non-stick cooking sprays or paper muffin liners when baking.
  • Substitute whole grain flour for 1/4 to 13 of the flour.
  • Decrease the salt by 1/2 as well and you decrease the sodium in the dish.
  • Use recipes that call for liquid oil instead of solid fat and use the healthier oils like olive and canola oils.
  • Another way to decrease the calories from these dishes is to decrease the portion.  When you just don’t want to mess with a family recipe, decreasing the portion by 1/4 to 1/3 will also decrease the fat, sugar and other ingredients that increase our risk for weight gain and sodium during the holidays.
  • Even though we need to eat more vegetables, the holidays can bring those dishes which are “Death to our Vegetables”, like creamy casseroles.  Try to make sure you have some plain veggies at the meals for those who want to do without all the extra calories.  Try this handout for more ideas on getting veggies into your celebrations.  Ten Tasty Ways to Color Your Holidays Healthy

For more tips on making the Holidays Healthy as well as fun, join the Holiday Challenge to Maintain Not Gain.

Ways to Get Physical Activity at Home

With the change in the weather and the shorter days, it can be beneficial to find ways to be physically active at home. Sometimes our window of opportunity for being physically active becomes smaller with the chance that it may rain or the cooler temperatures that come with the shorter days. Our need for physical activity doesn’t change so we need to find ways to be active in less time. Try some of these ideas and see if you can’t keep yourself moving in shorter bursts of time.

  • Take short walks in the neighborhood. Split your walk between the morning and the afternoon or evening to make sure you get in 30 minutes to 1 hour. This allows you to use some daylight in the morning and evening.
  • Rake the leaves – for some of us this may take all day and for others we may need to do some jumping in the leaves in order to get our 30 minutes. Just do what it takes to clean the leaves and get the activity you need. Make it a family activity. Kids love to jump and play in the leaves. They may even help with the raking.
  • Do those fall gardening chores like planting the bulbs for the spring.
  • Jump or play in the driveway or yard. Get a jump rope or just play ball. If the weather changes, your close to home.
  • Use stretch bands or weights around the house. While talking on the phone or watching the game on TV. This is a way to build those muscles during the cooler months.
  • Use your stairs to get a workout in when you can’t get to the gym. Going up and down the stairs will build endurance as well as strengthen those leg muscles.
  • Get a start on the Holiday cleaning. Add some music and move more as you get ready for the holiday company.
  • Remember to laugh and play. Laughter will work out those stomach muscles and everyone knows that when you make it fun you are more likely to keep up the activity.

For more tips on moving more at home go to Twelve Easy Ways to Get Fit Around Your Home (PDF).

Getting a Healthy School Lunch

Cooler fall weather is a great time to jump start your activity level. Along with the cooler weather, some of the haze that obscures our mountain views begins to lift, making it a great time to take a hike! Fall wildflowers in the Black Balsam area off the Blue Ridge Parkway are in bloom and should continue to put on a beautiful display into early November. The Flat Laurel Creek Trail would be a great choice for both views and flowers. This 2½ mile walk (round trip) crosses high meadows and creeks at the base of Sam Knob.

From Asheville, follow the Blue Ridge Parkway south for 26.5 miles past the NC 191 Parkway access. Turn right on FR 816 (Black Balsam Road) just past milepost 420; a sign reads "Black Balsam." Follow this road to the end at the parking area. Take the trail to Sam’s Knob on the far right of the parking area. At .6 mile the trail intersects with Flat Laurel Creek at the foot of Sam’s Knob. At this point you can take a side trip to the top of the mountain (.7 mile) for an incredible 360 view or continue to the left and back to the opposite end of the parking lot where you started. Enjoy some crisp WNC apples (yes, you can buy local apples and farm stands, the Farmer’s Market, and at some area grocery stores) and nuts for a healthy snack and don’t forget your water bottle.

Getting a Healthy School Lunch

With the growing health concerns from obesity to diabetes our children are faced with more than just learning their ABC’s.  Let’s get them off to a healthy start by making this year an Eat Smart Move More Year!!

How can you answer the age old question – What’s for Lunch?  Our kids usually need a little guidance to get a smart lunch.  Even if parents pack their child a lunch, who is to say they don’t use their allowance to purchase pizza or trade a friend for less wholesome food.  The way to combat this is to talk to our children and teach them the importance of eating a healthy lunch that includes a variety of proteins, vegetables and fruits and whole grains.  Let them know that it will help them grow strong, give them energy and help them do well in class.

When choosing a healthy cafeteria lunch sit down with you child and talk about the options.  Both school districts have their menus in a calendar style that you can access through their web page or through the school office.  Use these menus to plan lunch wisely.  These menus are based on providing a variety of nutrients with a healthy mix of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and calories. 

  • Encourage them to try all parts of the meal and not add extras.
  • Find out what healthy vegetables your child likes and highlight those days on the menu.  If they like the vegetables, they are more likely to eat the whole meal instead of just the higher calorie entrees.  Let these be the days that your child gets to eat the school lunch.
  • If a salad bar is available, discuss with your child how to make a healthy salad that includes some proteins like beans, low fat meats, nuts or seeds and a variety of vegetables instead of just lettuce and creamy dressings. 

If your child takes a packed lunch, you can follow the same rules of making it a balanced lunch.

  • The healthiest lunch is one you prepare yourself.  Pre-packaged lunches are generally high in fat, sodium and sugar and don’t offer much nutritional value.
  • Start with a list of simple list of basic options.  Items like sandwiches, quesadillas, crackers with cheese and fruit or veggies with dip.  Soup or beans and rice work well if you have a small thermos.
  • Think of what else you need to add for a balanced lunch.  Have you included a grain, fruits and vegetables, and a protein?
  • Consider milk, 100% fruit juice, smoothies or water to drink.  Avoid sugar added sodas or juice drinks.
  • Lunch schedules often start early, so the meal needs to stay with them.  In addition to the carbohydrates needed for energy, make sure to include some protein.  Consider hummus or bean dips, cheese, peanut butter (if allowed) or lean meats.
  • For younger children, keep it simple and portions small.  If it’s too much or too fancy it may be overwhelming.  Cut whole sandwiches in halves or quarters and include small containers of several items to choose from so it’s manageable.
  • Have your child help. Kids are more likely to eat something they have chosen or helped pack.
  • Remember to include an ice pack if the lunch needs to stay cool.  A frozen juice box can work well.
  • Remember to vary lunch choices.  Even favorites become boring over time or some kids need encouragement to mix it up.

And remember to talk to your child about what they are choosing at school or bringing from home.  Let them know you care about what they are eating and want to help them make healthy choices.

For more tips on healthy school lunches call Cathy Hohenstein at cooperative extension, (828) 255-5522.

Moving More into the School Year

Being active during summer months can be easy with outdoor play, sports and camps.  Now these kids are sitting in classes most of the day and then focused on homework after school.  Setting aside time for homework is important, but it can be just as important to set aside time for physical activity.

Here are some tips on ways to make sure your family is staying active into the fall.

  • Our children spend more time in front of the TV than they do in school! Monitor TV and screen time and set limits on how much time your child spends in front of the TV, video games or non-schoolwork related computer activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children of all ages watch no more than 2 hours of TV per day.
  • Keep a list of active past times that your child enjoys and encourage them to be up and moving for 30 minutes when they get home from school. An added benefit of a physical activity break is that your child may be able to focus better on homework after exercise.
  • Be prepared with games or sports equipment for after school.  Old favorites such as Frisbees, hula hoops, jump ropes are inexpensive and enjoyed by kids of all ages. Even board games and art projects will be more active than watching TV. 
  • If your child attends an after school program, find out how much active play is provided.  If this is limited, encourage the program to offer more opportunities.
  • Consider enrolling your child in a youth sports program.  Both Buncombe County and Asheville City Parks and Recreation Departments have programs for youth.  You can find information on programs in the Buncombe County Parks Alive Publication at news stands around the area or  go to :

For City Youth programs go to: or

  • Coordinate with other families to get kids together for physical activity and play.
  • Plan family activities that get everyone moving such as a walk or bike ride after dinner. This can also be a great way to catch up and share the events of the day. 

For more information on ways to keep kids active visit

Walking and Biking to School Safely

Children need a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity everyday.  Walking or riding a bike to school, and even the short walk to the bus stop can be a great way to help your child be active and to teach them important safety skills. Children who walk or bike to school arrive alert, having burned off a little energy, and are more ready to learn.  Regardless of how your child gets to school, here are a few tips to them arrive safely.
Let’s start with basic safety tips all children should know

  • Always stop, look and listen, especially while crossing. Look left; look right; then left again, before stepping past any curb or edge.
  • Be seen!
  • Don’t cross behind a bus, van or large SUV
  • Walk, don’t run!
  • Know what traffic signs and signals mean and follow them.
  • Choose the best place to walk
    • Face traffic,
    • Use the sidewalks, and
    • If your school has designated routes for walking, use them.

When biking…

  • Always wear a helmet and make sure it is fastened.
  • Always check your bike using the ABCs.  A for air in the tires, B for brakes and C for the chain and pedal crank.
  • On the road, always ride in the same direction as traffic; a car is not looking for an oncoming bike on the wrong side of the road.
  • On the sidewalk, check for cars before you cross a side street
  • And, when pulling out of a driveway, again, always stop; look left; right; then left again before you enter the street.

As parents, make sure your child knows the basic traffic rules and hand signals as well as the rules your child’s school has for walking, biking, and riding the bus.

Children up to 10-11 generally don’t have the skills to handle traffic and should be supervised.

Their physical differences also present safety challenges.

  • They are short, making it difficult to see motorist and be seen especially around obstacles such as parked cars or buses.  This is a big problem in front of schools during drop-off and pick-up.
  • Their peripheral vision is much narrower than an adult, so they won’t see an approaching car from the right or left as early as you will.
  • They have difficulty judging a cars speed and often believe a car can stop instantly.
  • They also often believe that if they can see the driver, the driver can see them!

As an adult, be a good role model and use good pedestrian and bicycle skills. This includes always wearing a bike helmet when riding.

And a few words to motorist.

  • Observe the speed limit. The faster the car is driving the more serious the injury to a child will be.  25 mph means 25, not 30.
  • Around school zones, playgrounds and neighborhoods drive as though you expect a child to dart into the road.
  • When turning left at a green light or making a right on red, always look for pedestrians as well as cars.  Remember, pedestrians always have the right of way in crosswalks and intersections. You are required by law to stop.

For more information on safely walking and biking to school go to:

Cool Summer Activities

As much as we try to deny it, summer is winding down.  Now is the time to get outdoors and take advantage of these last few weeks.  In the hot days of August it can be a challenge to “Move More”.  Finding someplace cool, like a mountain stream and a swimming hole seems the ideal activity.  We are very fortunate to have many icy streams to enjoy.  The North Mills River Recreation Area is a popular destination point, with a nice and shallow stretch of stream with a “tubing run”. Bring your own tubes or you can rent one at the entrance to the Recreation Area. To get there, go north from Hendersonville on RT 280/191 a short distance then turn west (left) on Mills River Rd and follow the signs to the Recreation Area.  There are also several small swimming holes along the Davidson River off of 276 near Brevard.  More suggestions for local holes can be found in the Outdoor Section of the Asheville Citizen Times online at

If getting wet isn’t for you, then a wildflower hike at a cool elevation could be a great destination.  Wildflowers on the Frying Pan Gap Trail near Mount Pisgah should be in peak bloom with a tremendous view at the top.  North Carolina’s Best Wildflower Hikes says that “for summer wildflowers, this might be the finest short hike in the North Carolina mountains”.  The trail is slightly less than a mile one-way with a moderate climb.  If you don’t have a wildflower guide, check one out from the library to identify the many spring blooms along the route.  Pack a healthy lunch and you have the recipe for a great end of summer outing.  The Trailhead is located 1 mile south at the Pisgah Inn. A gated, gravel Forest Service road turns west off the BRP at mile 409.6.  Park off the side of the road without blocking the gate.

Tiptoe through the Tomatoes

Right now, in gardens all over the nation, mysterious shapes are growing under leafy clusters. But don’t worry. It’s not Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but summer’s payoff for hardworking gardeners: a bounty of cancer-fighting vegetables.

It’s an inspiring time of year to start eating a mostly plant-based diet for lower cancer risk. Filling your plate at every meal with a wide variety of colorful vegetables is easy now, and fulfills the 5-10 daily servings recommended for maximum health protection.
Stepping outside the back door and picking a fresh red bell pepper is a special pleasure after buying them for $3.99 a pound at the grocery store. If you don’t have your own garden, you can find a farmers market or look for local produce in the grocery store.  Once you start perusing the stalls, it’s hard not to end up walking out laden with multicolored peppers, summer squash, eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, spinach, fresh herbs and anything else you can carry.

Here’s a look at the nutrients in a few popular summer vegetables.

Bell peppers start out green, then ripen to a sweeter red. Hot peppers like jalapeno have capsaicin, a phytochemical that may combat inflammation. Bell peppers can be yellow, orange or purple, too. Green peppers have 132 mg of vitamin C; red have 209 mg. Both contain 346 mg of potassium per 1 large pepper, and about 3 grams of fiber.

Tomatoes come in a great variety. Three main kinds are Italian plum (or Roma) tomatoes, big, juicy beefsteak tomatoes and medium-sized globe tomatoes. Sweet cherry or tiny grape tomatoes are ideal for snacking. Fashionable “heirloom” tomatoes can be purple, white, yellow, or even striped. When cooked or processed, tomato products have about three times as much of the cancer-fighting phytochemical lycopene (i.e., 4.6 mg in 1 medium tomato versus 40 mg in 1 cup of pasta sauce). A dried cherry tomato and a fresh, orange-colored kind of fresh tomato are being developed to contain high amounts of lycopene.  One medium tomato contains 22 calories, 16 mg of vitamin C and 1.5 grams of fiber.

Zucchini and yellow squash have more flavor when smaller-sized than when they reach gargantuan proportions. Zucchini and yellow squash are versatile because their mild flavor blends well with garlic, onions, tomatoes and other stronger-tasting vegetables. Without added fat or other ingredients, zucchini have only 20 calories per cup, 21 mg of vitamin C and 325 mg of potassium; yellow squash have 25 calories for 1 cup, 10 mg of vitamin C, and 276 mg of potassium.

Onions, garlic, chives and scallions
all contain protective phytochemicals called sulfides, as well as some potassium and vitamin C. When you cook with garlic, you can get the most health protection from it by crushing or mincing it first, then letting it sit for 10 minutes before cooking it, research shows. Garlic, scallions, shallots and leeks all have vitamin C and fiber. One large yellow onion, for example, contains 106 calories, 16 mg of vitamin C and 3 grams of fiber.

Fresh herbs also contain phytochemicals ranging from lutein and coumarin to pthalides and carsonol. Adding fresh oregano, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, dill, sage, and marjoram turns dishes into gourmet delights.
Source:  American Institute of Cancer Research

Summertime Kid Activities


With all the extra free-time that comes with summer vacation, parents often have to work hard to keep children active during their extended break.

A study recently released by Indiana University and Ohio State University found that young students gain more weight over summer vacation than during the school year. The researchers said children are spending too much of their summer vacation eating snacks, watching TV, and playing video games and that parents need to be more involved.

Here are some tips for parents to help kids move more and avoid summer weight gain:

Limit screen time

With hundreds of cable channels, tons of video game systems and endless computer activities, your kids may be perfectly content to spend their days lounging around inside. Encourage them to find other ways to entertain themselves by setting a limit on their screen time every day.

Buy a few basics
You don't have to stock a home gym, but purchasing a few active toys for your kids can help get them moving. Try getting a few balls (a basketball, soccer ball or even a beach ball) and a jump rope.

Come up with activities
"I'm bored" - it's a common phrase out of kids' mouths during the summer. Keep them active by coming up with inventive ways to get them moving. Try a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood or flashlight tag at dusk.

Model good behavior
Make active time, family time and set a good example by getting moving. You can go biking together as a family on the weekends, or go for a nature hike at a local forest. Anything active you can do together will work!  Visit some of our local attractions like the community pools, national parks and forest, the Nature Center, Skate Board Park, County and City Parks or just go for a walk around the neighborhood.  Visit for more resources on staying active

Healthy Trail Snacks

Being properly fueled for your hike is an important consideration. Not
eating enough or choosing foods of little nutritional value can leave you feeling weak, dizzy and maybe grouchy! Here are some suggestions for nutritious and portable hiking foods:

  • Gorp: The old “tried and true” hiking food. This is a mixture
    (often homemade) of dried fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grain
    cereal and sometimes chocolate bits!
  • Peanut Butter and Apple Slices on Whole Grain Tortillas:
    Delicious, nutritious and crunchy!
  • Fresh Fruit: Portability is key here – apples and oranges
    transport well.
  • String Cheese, Almonds and Dried Apricots
    Energy Bars: These tend to be more expensive but are
    formulated with nutrients to replenish and refuel.

Adapted from Eat Right Montana

Enjoy Your Local Trails… Take A Hike!

Summer is here and hiking is a great way for everyone from small children to seniors to be active. The health advantages of hiking are many and include controlling weight, maintaining mental health and decreasing the risk for many chronic diseases including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. With the added benefits of spending time with family and friends and exploring your local trails, hiking is a wonderful option for staying physically active in your local community.

These are some hints to help you make your hiking experience both enjoyable and healthy!

Choosing a Trail
It is important to take a good look at your whole group when choosing a trail to explore. The appropriate trail can mean the difference between tears and smiles – especially when hiking with children. Early in your efforts to explore hiking, choose shorter, loop trails that are not too hilly. Build up to those steeper and longer trails. A “jackpot” at the end of the trail, such as a cool mountain lake or stream to splash in, is often a great motivator. Keep in mind, when hiking with children, a positive first experience is critical to maintaining their interest in hiking.

There are many great guidebooks with trail information that can be found at your local library or bookstore.  The following are a few suggestions of popular regional trail books.

Walking the Blue Ridge: A guide to the trails of the Blue Ridge Parkway by Adkins, L.M.

Hiking the Carolina Mountains by Danny Bernstein

Play Hard Rest Easy Carolinas & Georgia: The Ultimate Active Getaway Guide by Malcolm Campbell and Deron Nardo

North Carolina Hiking Trails. (Third Edition) by de Hart, Alan

The Best Hikes of Pisgah National Forest by Goldsmith, C.F. III, Hamrick, S.E.G., Hamrick, H.J. Jr.

Farms, Gardens & Countryside Trails of Western North Carolina by Handmade in America

The Carolina Mountain Club has an online “hike finder” that helps you select hikes based on location, trail length and difficulty.  The guide will provide you with detailed trail information and often provides maps and photographs.  Go to:

And don’t forget to ask others for suggestions…friends and neighbors as well as staff at park and national forest visitor centers or facilities are great resources.  Staffs at local stores that sell hiking and camping equipment often are avid hikers and may be able to give you great suggestions.