Email Print Site Map
UC Food Safety
University of California
UC Food Safety

Small changes are a big step towards health

Amidst recent headlines that the United States population falls short in consuming the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, a group of dedicated parents in California’s Central Valley have demonstrated that one small change is a big step towards health for children and families.

Cook Off Fresh tomatoes add vitamins A & C to this parent's dish.

As part of the City of Fresno Parks and Recreation Department’s Healthy Lifestyle and Fitness Camp for Kids, parents and kids participated in a series of nutrition education classes lead by the UC Cooperative Extension’s Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program (FSNEP).

Following several weeks of classes on reducing fat, sugar and salt, and increasing whole grains, low-fat dairy and fruits and vegetables, groups of parents were invited to flex their nutrition muscles by making small changes to some of their family’s favorite recipes. Their goal? Improve the nutritional value of their dishes through small changes like increasing fruits and vegetables while decreasing ingredients high in fat, sugar and salt.

IMG 0729 Fresh vegetables are a great addition; frozen veggies are also a great choice.

Competition was healthy as teams of parents assembled their entries for the City of Fresno’s Inaugural Healthy Lifestyle and Fitness Camp Parent Cook Off. Think Bravo’s Top Chef meets Food Network’s Challenge, minus all the truffle oil and stage lighting. FSNEP educators were nutrition education partners with the parents to note original recipe and the parents' creative changes.

IMG 0750Not your average pizza. Small changes like using whole grain tortillas, fresh tomatoes and light cheese improve the nutritional value of this family favorite.

Cook Off
Fruit and yogurt are a perfect pair.

Judges that lent their palettes to parents’ culinary adventures included: local Kaiser Permanete nurses, fitness camp counselors including Amanda Cogdill, recreation specialist, and UC Cooperative extension’s Jeanette Sutherlin, county director, and Connie Schneider, nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor.

One of the winning recipes was the taffy apple pizza. Parents cut the fat and sugar drastically and paid attention to portion size to make this family favorite a healthy hit! It was so popular, camp counselors prepared it for the parents’ children participating in the Healthy Lifestyle and Fitness camp.

IMG 0824

One of the winning parent groups is recognized for their efforts.

IMG 0815

Healthy food tastes great!

What small change can you make to your family’s favorites?

Taffy Apple Pizza- Original Recipe
Makes 16 servings

1 package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese softened
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
3 medium Granny Smith apples
¼ cup caramel ice cream topping
½ cup peanuts, chopped

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 Slice
Calories: 150
Total Fat: 9g
Sat. Fat: 4g
Cholesterol: 15 mg
Sodium: 85mg
Total Carbohydrate: 16g
Dietary fiber: 1g
Sugars: 10g
Protein: 3g


Taffy Apple  Pizza - Winning Recipe
Healthier substitutions indicated with asterisks**
Makes 32 servings

1 box low-fat graham crackers**
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 package (8 ounces) fat free cream cheese, softened**
¼ cup packed brown sugar**
¼ cup reduced fat creamy peanut butter**
3 medium Granny Smith apples
¼ cup sugar free caramel ice cream topping**
½ cup peanuts chopped

1. Mix cream cheese, vanilla, brown sugar and peanut butter in small bowl
2. Spread mixture on graham crackers
3. Thinly slice apples
4. Arrange apple slices on graham crackers
5. Drizzle with caramel sauce
6. Sprinkle with peanuts

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/2 cracker
Calories: 60
Total Fat: 2g
Sat. Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 65mg
Total Carbohydrate: 8g
Dietary Fiber: less than 1g
Sugars: 4g
Protein: 2g

Posted on Friday, September 17, 2010 at 6:58 AM
  • Author: Shelby MacNab

No Comments Posted.

Leave a Reply

You are currently not signed in. If you have an account, then sign in now! Anonymously contributed messages may be delayed.

Security Code:


Site Creation date 6/1/2009
Webmaster for site:  Zann Gates

Webmaster Email: