UC Food Blog
A group of participants in the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education program will graduate next week ready to use the knowledge and skills they have acquired to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. Let's find out what healthy changes they have made:
“I added whole grains.”
“Put more vegetables in daily diet.”
“Serving more fruits and veggies.”
“Eating more greens and less fatty foods.”
“Eating more colorful vegetables.”
“Don't leave meat out!”
“Eating more vegetables and fruits.”
“Being more physically active.”
The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education program is a no-cost, evidence-based course focusing on nutrition, physical activity, food safety and resource management offered to low-income youth and adults. Community partnerships are essential for successful, sustainable programming.
The Fresno-Madera County UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program is currently hosting an Eat Smart, Being Active class series in partnership with a local job training agency. Participants attending Proteus' Jobs 2000 classes are offered nutrition education as part of their ongoing education, job training and job placement services. UC CalFresh maintains an ongoing partnership with Proteus Inc., enabling us to expand our reach and assist low-income families to make informed and educated decisions when it comes to their health.
The current class has covered topics including:
- Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins into meals and snacks.
- The importance of physical activity, and the health benefits one derives from maintaining a healthy diet alongside an active lifestyle.
- Resource management, to encourage participants to stretch food dollars while making the healthiest food choices.
- The importance of dairy foods and calcium for bone health.
As a nutrition educator, I always encourage participants to make healthy lifestyle changes, regardless of how incrementally it's done. Whether it means walking around the block during lunch or breaks, or adding more fruits and vegetables to everyday meals, no change is too small. Health changes made gradually enable us to maintain them over time.
Below are a few tips I like to provide series participants:
- Start with a goal that is achievable and time bound.
- As you achieve your health goals, challenge yourself further. For example, you may be accustomed to drinking whole milk and have effectively transitioned to reduced-fat milk (2%). Don't stop there, challenge yourself and go for low-fat (1%) milk.
- Write down your health goal, this will keep you accountable.
- Your health goal should be fun and enjoyable, involve your family or friends to make it social. For example, create a neighborhood walking club and encourage others in your community to be more active.
- Celebrate your successes!
- For more tips, I encourage participants to visit choosemyplate.gov. There are always new resources available to make a healthy lifestyle easier.
Lifestyle changes happen gradually, and Jobs 2000 participants are leading the way toward building healthier families, while encouraging others to do so too. Together we can inspire others to make healthy changes!
I want to encourage you to take a #healthyselfie to inspire others within your community to make healthy lifestyle changes.
Use the hashtags #UCCE and #healthyselfie, and follow @UCCalFreshFC and @UCANR to stay connected with our social media platforms, for more healthy tips, and for updates about events and classes in the Central Valley. You can join and stay connected to the work being done in Fresno and Madera counties across many platforms including: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and our Blog.
Pictured above are (clockwise, from upper left) Brenda, Cheyenne and Mercedes who showcase their #healthyselfie with goals for food safety, eating more leafy greens and being more physically active.
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont hopes so. Among California native plants are many overlooked food sources, some with gourmet potential, according to Sanchez, production manager at the garden. As an added bonus, edible natives are often low-water users that look great in landscapes. He recently gave UC Master Gardeners in Los Angeles County an overview of edible natives, and had them taste some of his favorites, including his recipe for Cleveland Sage Pesto.
There are six native plants that Sanchez thinks are especially worth checking out.
- Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata). It's easy to grow and found throughout much of California. Its leaves can be used in salad, soup, or pesto. (It can also be a weed in certain situations, according to UC IPM).
- Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii). A beautiful, drought tolerant ornamental, it can also be used in pesto, beer, ice cream and baked goods.
- One-leaf onion (Allium unifolium). All parts of this native onion are edible.
- Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var. torreyana). Dried pods can be ground to make a gluten-free flour.
- Roger's California grape (Vitis ‘Roger's Red'). This plant, which was recently determined to be a hybrid between a native California grape and a cultivated grape, produces small, sweet fruit with seeds that can be eaten fresh, or used for juice or jelly.
- Golden currant (Ribes aureum). Fruit can be eaten fresh or made into jelly.
Adventurous cooks, gardeners, foragers, and anyone else who want to learn about edible native plants can attend the upcoming California Native Food Symposium, which will be held on November 14and 15 at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.
All over California, farmers are harvesting the last summer crops, picking apples, crushing grapes, and watching pumpkins ripen. All over California, farmers also welcome the public to enjoy family-friendly harvest festivals, education and entertainment. To help urban and suburban Californians connect with local farms and agricultural events, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) hosts the UC Agritourism Directory.
Here is a sampler of harvest season fun on the farms this month:
Apple Hill Growers' Association - El Dorado County
About 50 years ago, when a pear blight destroyed the pear crop in the El Dorado County foothill region near the small town of Camino, UC Cooperative Extension pomology specialist and farm advisor Ed Delfino worked with local growers to save their ranches. They began to plant apples, formed the Apple Hill Growers' Association and started inviting their neighbors from the valley to visit the farms for fresh apples and fun. Since the time of the group's first apple press and press picnic in 1964, the original ranch marketing association has blossomed into a very successful ranch marketing endeavor.
Today, Apple Hill includes over 55 ranchers, including Christmas tree growers, wineries, vineyards and a spa. For 50 years, Sacramento region families, along with those from the east side of the Sierras, have made a tradition of driving up Highway 50 to enjoy picking apples, drinking wine, arts and crafts, pies, jams, jellies, music, and other activities. Visitors will find their day filled with old-fashioned fun.
The ranches are now open, with U-Pick orchards, entertainment, crafts, food and events at multiple locations. Learn more at www.applehill.com/.
Oak Glen is where the Apple Hill growers visited to learn how to share their apple harvest with the public, back in 1964. One of the most scenic spots in Southern California, Oak Glen is nestled in the heart of Apple Country, where it is cooler in the summer and winter offers snow. An hour or so from Los Angeles or Palm Springs, the 30 members of the Oak Glen Apple Growers Association offer a pleasant day trip or weekend away from town.
Visit orchards, pick fresh apples and drink fresh-pressed cider, and enjoy hot apple pie and other fresh baked apple treats at one of the family restaurants. Other attractions include an animal park, the Wildlands Conservancy, horse drawn wagon rides, the historical Oak Glen School House Museum and many activities offered by the different farms.
For apple picking and other fun: www.oakglen.net/
Grape Stomping, food, drink and fun in the Capay Valley, Yolo County - September 19, 2015
The 5th Annual Capay Crush will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the beautiful Capay Valley, with a full slate of activities for all ages, including live music from Hot City Jazz and Dirty Cello, wine tasting, local food and grape stomping. Attendees are invited to camp overnight in the farm orchards. Event proceeds benefit the Kathleen Barsotti Non-Profit for Sustainable Agriculture (KBNP).
Guests can step into a vat of grapes and stomp until their feet are purple. Visitors can also ride the farm's tractor tram, enjoy free honey and olive oil tastings, take part in grape-themed activities and crafts, visit the petting zoo, and take a self-guided walking tour of Capay Organic.
Tickets are on sale now through Sept. 17, for $15 per person (children ages 12 and under are free) or 4 tickets for $50. After Sept. 17, tickets will be sold at the farm for $20 per person. Guests can also camp overnight at the farm in the orchards. Campsites can be reserved in advance for $35 each at www.capaycrush2015.eventbrite.com by Sept. 17 (admission not included).
Work Day & Barn Dance at Pie Ranch by the coast - Pescadero, September 19, 2015
RSVP for the work day and/or barn dance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Private groups of more than 10 are encouraged to schedule a separate tour/program with the farm as they are attempting to keep the dance open and accessible to the greater community.
The work day begins at 2 p.m. Park past the roadside barn and check in at the roadside barn. The tour begins at 4 p.m. Entry is $10 to 20 per person, charged on a sliding scale. Pay at the Roadside Barn. A potluck dinner begins at 6 p.m. The event is alcohol free. The barn dance is from 7 to 10 p.m. Entry is $12 to 20 (sliding scale).
Children under 12 are free. More information on the work day and barn dance here.
News flash from Pie Ranch: "We planted the tomato plants in the spring and now we are up to our ears in tomatoes! While the summer bounty lasts, we will be holding our Cherry Tomato U-Pick everyday! Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., you are welcome to stop by the ranch and pick cherry tomatoes right off the vine!
Weekend Along the Farm Trails - Sonoma County - September 26 & 27, 2015
Most of the stops are free.
All you need is transportation, a map of your route, a cooler to keep your purchases fresh, and a sense of adventure! Register now for your chance to
~ Explore Sonoma County's vibrant agricultural community.
~ Experience life on the farm behind the barnyard gates.
~ Meet your farmers, vintners & artisan producers.
~ Enjoy tastes, tours, & demonstrations fresh from the source.
Please note that some farms are only open one day. Feel free to contact the organizers with questions: email@example.com.
Please let the organizers know how many people will be in your car by selecting the corresponding number of tickets. Register now
Bloomingcamp Ranch Harvest Festival - Oakdale - September 26 & 27, 2015
Admission is free for this small farm festival near Modesto. Bring the family for live entertainment, chef demos, hayrides, games, kids art patch, pie eating contest, petting zoo, local arts and crafts and a car show. It all happens at Bloomingcamp Ranch, 10528 Highway 120, in Oakdale. For more information: www.bloomingcampranch.com or (209) 847-7437
Farm and Ranch Tour in the Sierra foothills - Mariposa County - September 26, 2015
The 2015 farm and ranch tour features four farm and ranch locations, along with a special display of the UC Master Gardeners near downtown along the Creek Parkway. Each location will showcase their unique agricultural operations, and vendors and artists will be set up as well.
Tickets are $10 per person, or $25 for a whole car. Kids under 12 are free when accompanying a paying adult. Tickets may be purchased at any tour location and are good for all locations. website/more info
Hoes Down Harvest Festival - Capay Valley, Yolo County - October 3 & 4, 2015
On Saturday, enjoy live music, circus performances, kids arts and crafts, a kids hay fort, contra dancing, agricultural workshops, farm tours, good food, a crafts fair and farmers' market, and more music. The silent auction features a range of affordable treats.
Camping is available on Saturday night in the walnut orchard, with breakfast and longer workshops and activities offered on Sunday.
All of the proceeds from the Hoes Down Harvest Celebration go to non-profit organizations that support sustainable agriculture and rural living.
For more info about these events and more California farms and ranches to visit, see www.calagtour.org
Author: Penny Leff/span>
The youngsters are required to take at least a half-cup serving of fresh fruits or vegetables as part of a healthful meal to meet national nutrition standards, but I noticed they were voluntarily eating the fresh leafy greens and orange slices.
The children had selected the food themselves from a new serving line, which was made possible by a grant from the USDA aimed at encouraging children to eat healthier school lunches. U.S. Department of Agriculture has been providing a new round of grants since 2013 to upgrade kitchen and cafeteria equipment. Ygnacio Valley Elementary School is in Mount Diablo Unified School District, which received a USDA grant.
About one-third of children in California are overweight or obese, which is associated with serious health risks.
According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, 93 percent of school districts in California, and 88 percent nationwide, need at least one piece of equipment to better serve students nutritious foods.
Kenneth Hecht, director of policy for the Nutrition Policy Institute organized the Sept. 3 visit to the Mount Diablo Unified School District for Congressman Mark DeSaulnier and USDA executives to see the improvements.
, nearly half of which (46.2 percent) are free or reduced price for children from low-income families. By replacing a refrigerator bought in 1973 with a new walk-in refrigerator, the central kitchen is able to store and serve twice as much fresh produce while saving energy and energy costs, said Anna Fisher, director of Food and Nutrition Services for Mount Diablo Unified.
The new serving line allows for food to be displayed so the children can select their own food, whereas before, each tray was filled by a server and handed to the students.
“We've seen that when the children select their own food, less food gets thrown away,” said Fisher.
“The examples we are seeing at Mount Diablo Unified School District are perfect illustrations of what these USDA grants can do, from the procurement of food to serving healthy meals to children,” said Hecht.
Congressman DeSaulnier, who ate lunch with the students, is sponsoring the School Food Modernization Act (HR 3316) to continue and strengthen the USDA grants program.
Another piece of federal legislation aimed at improving child nutrition is the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which includes farm to school support and expires on Sept. 30, 2015.
“This fall is a pivotal time for the future of Farm to School programs across the country,” said Gail Feenstra, deputy director of the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) in the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Riverside schools have transitioned from heating prepackaged meals to buying local produce and preparing fresh food on-site.
According to Kirsten Roloson, director of Nutrition Services, and Adleit Asi, operations manager, Riverside Unified now buys $400,000 worth of produce from local farmers. One farmer, Bob Knight, who supplies oranges and other produce to Riverside Unified, said he's making five to seven times more money selling to schools than he did before.
“Farm-to-school programs increase access to fresh, healthy produce among school children while also supporting local farms,” said Feenstra. In California, she noted that 2,626 schools participate in farm-to-school programs, serving 1.8 million students and buying more than $51 million in produce from local California farmers.
Feenstra will be leading a similar farm-to-school tour for policymakers in Sacramento on Sept. 29.
"With new equipment and fresh produce, schools can prepare healthy and more appealing school meals that may be the most nutritious meal a child receives that day," Hecht said.
Whether children eat with forks or fingers, the nutritional quality of the food they eat can affect their lives, long term.
The University of California Global Food Initiative aims to put the world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed itself. By building on existing efforts and creating new collaborations among UC's 10 campuses, affiliated national laboratories and the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the initiative will develop and export solutions for food security, health and sustainability throughout California, the United States and the world.
Not so for those enrolled in the foods and nutrition program in UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' (UC ANR) 4-H Youth Development Program. Youths as young as five learn how to prepare healthy nutritious food.
And yes, they learn how to make desserts, such as special treats for their family and friends at Halloween.
Former Solano County 4-H All-Star Ambassador Julianna Payne was so interested in the foods and nutrition project offered by the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, she plans a culinary career.
"That's where I found my love of cooking and most especially, baking," said Payne, 19, who just completed her 14th year in 4-H, including 10 years in foods and nutrition.
4-H is administered by UC ANR Cooperative Extension offices in every California county. The program focuses on leadership and life skills.
"I believe that one of the most important life skills a person needs is knowing how to cook for themselves," Julianna said.
Payne, a 2014 high school graduate, is in her second year at Solano Community College, Fairfield. In the spring, she plans to attend an area culinary school to earn her associate degree in baking and pastry.
"During my 10 years in the food and nutrition project, I made so many things I could not even begin to count," she recalled. "I have made savory things like tamales, empanadas, raviolis, and chilis and I have made sweet things like, peppermint bark, pumpkin scones, toffees, and chocolate orange cupcakes."
Julianna, who joined 4-H at age 5, went on to serve as president of her club for three years. Her experience, enthusiasm and commitment to 4-H led to her being selected for the county's highest 4-H honor: Solano County 4-H All-Star Ambassador.
Her mother, Sharon Payne, is a former community leader of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club and a past president of the Solano County 4-H Leaders' Council.
“4-H is a fantastic youth development organization that teaches youth life skills, leadership and citizenship,” said Sharon Payne, a 13-year 4-H volunteer. “Within their projects, youth can learn about whatever topic that interests them, from foods to computers or animals to robotics. Project work stimulates interests and skills and can introduce youth to careers they may not have otherwise considered.”
Said Valerie Williams, Solano County 4-H Program representative: “The 4-H Youth Development Program has a long history of promoting healthy living among youth and their families. Reconnecting youth to a healthy food system and teaching them how to grow and prepare fresh food is the focus of many 4-H healthy living programs. 4-H adult volunteer leaders provide mentoring to 4-H members, which plays a vital role in helping them select career paths and achieve success.”
As for Julianna Payne, she is continuing to hone her skills. She entered her gluten-free chocolate/orange cupcakes at the recent Solano County Fair, Vallejo and drew rave reviews from the judges, staff and volunteers who sampled the cupcakes.
Soon she will be teaching other 4-H'ers as she herself was taught.
“I plan on giving back to 4-H this year by becoming a project leader myself," Julianna said. "I will be teaching a cupcake project for 5-to-8-year-olds in the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club."
Here's the recipe:
Gluten Free Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate Drizzle and Candied Orange Peel
For the Cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup boiling water
1-3/4 cups all-purpose gluten free flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350°F. Line about 30 muffin cups (2-1/2 inch in diameter) with paper or foil baking cups.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Fill cups 2/3 full with batter.
Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool completely in pans on wire rack. Makes about 30 cupcakes.
For the Frosting:
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon Orange zest
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract the orange juice and orange zest.
For the Garnish:
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate baking bar
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
Melt chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler. Drizzle over cupcakes. Peel the orange and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Boil in water until tender. Drain. Heat sugar and water in pot until dissolved. Simmer orange peels in sugar water for 30 minutes. Set on cooling rack to cool. Once cool, toss in granulated sugar and set as garnish on top of cupcakes. Enjoy.
Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Julianna Payne's cupcakes were a big hit at the Solano County Fair. From left are Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall; Julianna Payne; Sharon Payne, assistant superintendent; and Angelica Gonzalez, staff. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey).