Potassium, an essential mineral that is necessary for several functions in our body. This mineral is obtained from the foods we eat. This electrolyte assists in normalizing blood pressure, pH balance, water balance, nerve contractions, muscular contractions, digestion & heart rhythm. Potassium is easily obtained from a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. Unless a low potassium diet is prescribed, a diet rich in potassium may help off set some of the harm that a diet high in sodium may cause by helping the body rid itself of excess sodium.
Potassium rich foods are:
- fruits, such as apricots, bananas, kiwi, oranges, and pineapples
- vegetables, such as leafy greens, carrots, and potatoes
- lean meats
- whole grains
- beans and nuts
What does all this mean when it comes to your menus? Department for the Aging (DFTA) requires that seniors receive meals that are high in potassium. This means that one meal for DFTA programs must contain at least 1260mg of potassium, which is 1/3 of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for adults. This requirement is met by providing programs with fresh fruit and vegetables.
Calcium. A mineral that causes most of us to think of these two key words: bones & milk. True, calcium intake does impact bone strength, however there are several other minerals that are important in bone strength as well- vitamin D and phosphorus to name a few. But our star is calcium today. Milk is an excellent source of calcium, but not everyone can tolerate milk. Unflavored milk is a required component for child based food programs.
While calcium IS important for bone health, it is also important for several other functions in our body, including: nerve impulse communication, muscle contraction, creation and function of blood cells and the clotting of blood. It also plays a key role in digestion. The nerves in our digestive tract rely on calcium to communicate with each other to regulate digestion.
While milk is an excellent source of calcium, there are other amazing foods out there that can help increase your calcium intake as well. These include: Cheese, yogurt, some leafy greens, broccoli, almonds, beans and lentils and sesame seeds. Continue to encourage the population that you feed to not only drink their milk, but eat their veggies, beans and grains as well =)
Portion sizing helps ensure that your clientele is meeting the guidelines established by research based organizations. To ensure portion sizes are being met, you can refer to the production plan. On the production plan, the portion size will be listed in measurable terms for your staff. These portion sizes should be followed accordingly as they help ensure that meals served meet the nutritional requirements which include calories, fiber, sodium and fat. If the portion sizes are not being followed, than clients may be getting too many calories -which will increase sodium limits for the day, or too few calories. If you have questions about the production plan, please feel free to reach out!
I wanted to remind everyone that meat requirements can come from vegetarian sources as well. Vegetarian sources include beans, lentils, tofu, eggs, cottage cheese, regular unprocessed cheese, or even yogurt. Depending on your program needs, offering meat alternates can be a great way to boost the nutrition content of a meal. Beans and lentils are an excellent way to increase the fiber content and vitamin/mineral profile of a dish. Often times introducing this change to children or hesitant adults can take time. However, educating your food service staff on the benefits of vegetarian meals can, in turn help them to encourage the students/ clients/ residents to try the dish! If anyone ever needs some educational materials on the benefits of the bean, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Juice has become a controversial menu option. While CACFP, NSLP, and NYC food standards all allow 100% juice, it must be limited, and it is not highly recommended. Fresh fruit is preferable because fiber is still intact. Once a fruit is juiced, it loses its fiber and many of its nutrition benefits. Fresh fruit is unprocessed, preserving the natural vitamins and minerals found in the flesh and peel. Once this fruit is turned into juice, the pasteurization process destroys the key health benefits that you would otherwise obtain from fresh fruit.
It is also important to keep in mind that when you are serving an older population, juice is high in carbohydrates. If your demographic serves diabetics, juice should be limited and diabetics should be educated on how juice can contribute to their carbohydrate intake. One 4oz glass of juice contains ~15g of carbohydrates and no fiber. When consumed in excess, juice packs in the calories with little nutritional benefit- also known as “empty calories”.
New CACFP meal patterns state that “Pasteurized full-strength juice may only be used to meet the vegetable or fruit requirement at one meal, including snack, per day”.
NSLP only allows 100% fruit juice, and it can only be counted towards 1/2 the fruit serving requirement for that meal.
We understand that many programs like to incorporate juice into their menus, it’s important to understand the impact that excess juice can have on your health. I always like to promote fresh fruit, it’s better for you overall!
I want to reach out to clarify that the romaine lettuce that Regina Caterers provides is NOT in anyway involved in the 16 state recall of Arizona chopped romaine. The romaine lettuce product that you are receiving from us is from either Dole and/or Andy Boy based out of California.
If you have any concerns regarding the romaine lettuce recall as it relates to Regina Caterers, please feel free to contact Regina Caterers at: 917-822-9856. To learn more about the recent romaine lettuce recall, you can call the hotline at: 1-800-356-3111.
I hope this answers any concerns regarding this matter.
Jamie Pittman MS, RDN, CDN
I’m often asked if a potato can be used in place of bread, pasta or rice. To meet the whole grain requirement for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or Child and Adult Food Care Programs (CACFP), a whole grain must be served. NYC food standards require grains contain at least 2g of fiber. Potatoes, corn, green peas and plantains are starchy vegetables. Because they are starchy, many people think they qualify as a grain. A whole grain is fiber rich, with B vitamins and other essential nutrients that are vital to healthy development. Creditable whole grains include: whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa. Starchy vegetables cannot count towards a grain requirement.
Healthy Eating Guide
Your Healthy Eating Guide from Regina Caterers – To stay fit and healthy throughout your life it is really important that you eat a balanced diet every day.
If you are going to be running and dancing about for an hour each day, you need to make sure you are putting the right food into your body to give you enough energy – otherwise you are just going to zonk out.
Too little food and you won’t have enough energy, too much food and you will have too much energy – just the right amount of the right kind of food and wa-hey you’re good to go!
It’s all about balance, balance, balance.
- Just have a small amount of sugar and salt each day. Try to swap fizzy drinks for water, and don’t have carbonated drinks before bed because it isn’t very good for your teeth and it can keep you awake all night.
- Try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day – or more if you can. Top tips: one portion is about a handful, and juice can only count towards one of your five a day.
- Foods like potatoes, bread, cereals, rice and pasta should make up about a third of the food you eat each day. These are a great source of energy. Try to include them at each of your three main meals each day – breakfast, lunch and evening meal.
- Milk, cheese and yoghurt are great sources of calcium which make teeth and bones strong. You need to make sure you have some every day.
- Meat, fish, eggs and beans give us protein, vitamins and minerals which help us grow strong and healthy – you need some of these every day too. Try to eat these foods at your two main meals each day and to try to have two helpings of fish a week.
Good Luck With Your Balancing!
Welcome to our first blog post.
We will be aiming to bring you at least one blog post per month. All our posts will be based on health and wellbeing and how these can be affected by the food we consume.
We will discuss the benefits of eating fresh foods over processed ones.
What a balanced diet should ideally contain.
Why at different stages in our lives our diets need to change and lots more…
We hope you will find it interesting and remember you can always address any questions that you may have for our dietitian to them, through their page on our website.
We will be back with your first food related blog story very soon.
Thanks for visiting this page.