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Archive for July, 2018

Decadent descriptions make veggies more appealing

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You know veggies are good for you. But do you tend to find them a little boring? If so, maybe it’s all in your ear.

A new study suggests that labeling veggies with flavorful foodie terms, like “dynamite,” “sweet-sizzlin'” or “twisted,” can make even basic dishes seem more indulgent. And that may lead people to eat more veggies.

What’s in a name?

The study took place in a college cafeteria. Each day, researchers labeled different featured veggie dishes in one of four ways:

  • Basic. For example, “green beans.”
  • Healthy restrictive. For example, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots.”
  • Healthy positive. For example, “healthy energy-boosting green beans and shallots.”
  • Indulgent. For example, “sweet-sizzlin’ green beans and crispy shallots.”

Only the labels changed—not the way the veggies were prepared or served.

Researchers found that more people chose the vegetable when the labeling was indulgent:

  • 41 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a healthy restrictive label.
  • 35 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a healthy, positive label.
  • 25 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a basic label.

According to the researchers, the findings could be a first step in busting a commonly held belief: that healthy foods aren’t as tasty as less-healthy choices. Labeling foods with exciting descriptions may make us feel like we’re indulging—not depriving—ourselves. And in the future, this approach may coax more people to eat healthy in many different dining situations.

The findings appear in a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Beyond superlatives: 3 ideas for making veggies more exciting

Try these ideas from the Produce for Better Health Foundation to entice your family to eat more good-for-you veggies (and don’t forget fruit!):

  1. Bring the heat. Add sliced mushrooms and diced tomatoes and onions to sliced green and yellow squash. Mix in some chopped jalapeño, sauté and serve over brown rice.
  2. Give spinach salad a fruity twist. Add your favorite fruits (consider cherries, mangoes or berries) and chopped walnuts to fresh spinach. Toss with an orange vinaigrette.
  3. Grill them up. Drizzle grilled zucchini with a little bit of olive oil. Add oregano or your favorite spices.

For even more exciting ideas on making tasty fruits and vegetables, check out this infographic.

National Park Service’s Find Your Park resource

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America’s kids are facing an outdoor crisis. A generation ago, kids spent more than 4 hours a day outside – now, it’s less than 40 minutes per week. Being outside has a multitude of health benefits. Help kids escape the indoors and connect with nature during Great Outdoors Month through the free National Park Service’s Find Your Park resource.

11 free places in PA to swim, splash and cool off this summer

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If you’re looking to stay cool without breaking the bank this summer, we’ve got your back. Here is a list of destinations where you can take a dip, make a splash or otherwise relax with some water-based entertainment, all free of charge.

  • Middlesex Township Splash Pad: The Middlesex Splash Pad, 50 Beagle Club Road, Carlisle, has been open since 2009 and operates 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. every day from Memorial Day through Labor Day. It’s a 30’ x 30’ area with underground water sprinklers, and the surface is a brushed concrete (you should have your kids wear rubber-soled water shoes). If you’re bringing a group of 10 or more, the township asks to you contact the office.
  • Memorial Park, Carlisle: The 2-acre Memorial Park has a spray pool where the kids can cool off. The park, located at 149 Penn St., Carlisle, is adjacent to Hope Station, a community aid organization.
  • Doubling Gap Lake, Colonel Denning State Park: The sand beach at Colonel Denning State Park is open from late May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. There is no lifeguard available, so it’s swim at your own risk. The park is located at 1599 Doubling Gap Road, Newville.
  • Pine Grove Furnace State Park: The beaches at Fuller and Laurel lakes are open from May 1 to September 30, 8 a.m. to sunset. The park is located at 1100 Pine Grove Road, Gardners. Laurel Beach is swim at your own risk, while Fuller Beach has lifeguards from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Labor Day weekend. The parks department advises swimmers to exercise caution because of extreme depths and cold subsurface waters.
  • Gifford Pinchot State Park: The large, ADA-accessible beach in the Quaker Race Day Use Area is open from late May through mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. There are no lifeguards on duty. Boat rental, picnic facilities, a snack bar and a children’s play area are located near the swimming beach (which is grass).
  • Veterans Memorial Pool, McClure: This free public swimming pool is located off Route 522 at 34 E Ohio St., McClure, in Snyder County. They’re open 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday. There’s a snack bar, and they accept donations. There’s also a park a few blocks away. For more information, 570-658-8352.
  • Splash Pad at Fairmount Park, Red Lion: The park at 108 Boundary Avenue in Red Lion has a free splash pad, open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, in addition to changing rooms, rest rooms and pavilion. The activator is found at the center drain, and features are motion-activated. Parking can be found at the Community Building at 190 S. Charles Street, or along South Charles or Fairview streets. For more info, call 717-244-3475.
  • Penn’s Park Splash Pad, York: York City Recreation and Parks Bureau opened the Penn’s Park Splash Pad early this year, and it will be open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, weather permitting. The park is found at 100 W. College Avenue in downtown York.
  • Seven Tubs Recreation Area, Wilkes-Barre: Seven Tubs in Luzerne County is so named due to the seven “tubs” carved out of the surrounding stone by glacial action, which are filled with water today thanks to the Wheelbarrow Run stream. The stream and the tubs are found on a 500 acre nature area.
  • Locust Lake State Park: The sand beach at Locust Lake, found in Barnesville, Schuylkill County, is open from late-May to mid-September, with hours from 8 a.m. until sunset. Swimming areas are marked with buoys.
  • Yellow Breeches Creek, Mechanicsburg: The Yellow Breeches Creek is a destination for fishing, kayaking and yes, swimming. There are a few places the public can access the creek, including at Messiah College’s campus at the historic covered bridge. Click here for more info on the Yellow Breeches Creek Water Trail.

Family meals help kids’ physical and mental health

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The value of a family dinner isn’t exaggerated, according to a new study. It found that children who eat meals with their family benefit from better physical and mental health.

Sharing a family meal has been linked to children having a better diet. Research has also suggested that these meals promote language development in children.

Study follows kids and meals

In the new study, researchers followed a group of about 1,500 children in Canada. They already knew a lot about these kids, so they felt they could determine if family meals were making a difference.

When the kids were age 6, the researchers asked their parents about the family meal environment. They focused on the family’s enjoyment of the meal and if it felt like a chance to talk. Families were also asked if they could confide in each other or if they had bad feelings toward one another.

When the children turned 10, the researchers focused on their well-being. They asked the children, their parents and their teachers about academic success, eating habits, and behavior at home and school.

Benefits of family meals

The results were telling: Having better-quality family meals was linked to better physical fitness in the children. It was also linked to drinking less soda.

Kids who had a higher quality of family meals were less likely to fight, attack others and dominate other children. They were also less likely to be defiant, steal and tell lies.

The study didn’t find a link between family meals and success in reading and math. But the researchers noted that teacher and student relationships, which affect academic success, are often related to the family environment.

Why do family meals have such a positive effect? The researchers said family meals give parents a chance to connect with their children and monitor their activities. Parents can act as role models for healthy eating. And family meals may give kids a sense of belonging, as well as a chance to talk about issues that bother them.

The study was published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

Bring your family together

The researchers pointed out that family meals aren’t the only characteristic of a good home environment. But it’s an easy place to start to improve a child’s well-being.

Making an effort to share family meals is worth the effort, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says. If you don’t share family meals already, you can get started with one meal a week. Keep the menu simple, and ask your family to help prepare the meal.

To learn more about the positive influence of eating together as a family, you can read this article: “Family meals: A time for health and happiness.”

Infographic: Pick your produce by the season

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Whatever the season, there’s always produce to pick from. Finding out when your favorite fruits and veggies are in season. Learn ways to incorporate them into your diet throughout the year with the interactive infographic below.

Click here for recipes that will shake up your routine with refreshing fruit smoothies or veggie-packed meals

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