Market Mastery

A trip to your local Farmer’s Market in the Summer is a great way to involve the whole family in a fun and holistic healthy living activity! Delaware Farmer’s Markets sell inexpensive locally grown and in season produce as well as other market items like meats, eggs and cheeses from near by farms. As if the delicious local foods weren’t enough, many of the markets also have entertainment and activities that are fun for all ages. Music, crafts, Recipe Demos (shout out to UD Cooperative Extension), and there are even Kid’s Days. Click here for the Delaware Farmer’s Market Guide to find a market near you.

Delaware 4-H wants you to make the most of your market experience by following these three simple tips:

  • Know what’s in season.

When it comes to produce, looking for items that are in season will maximize the quality of the product and help minimize your cost.

Summer Seasonal Fruits

Sweet Summer fruits are a great way to refresh and cool off after a hot day outside. The bright colors also make them fun to eat and to add to salads with Summer Vegetables.

Summer Vegetables

  • Show up early or late.

The market will be less crowded at these times. We recommend arriving at the very start of the market to ensure the best selection of items or arriving later in the market for the best prices. Check the Farmer’s Market Guide (link is above) for times.

  • Plan your recipes ahead of time.

Having recipes in mind when you head to the market will make it easier to select items. Here are some delicious in season chef-developed and kid approved Summer recipes from the USDA.

Chick Peas and Tomatoes

Chicken Ratatouille

Spinach Egg Bake

Easy Zucchini Lasagna

Wild Veggie Mashup

Share your Farmer’s Market experience with us by posting to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtags #DE4H or #FarmDE




Watermelon Smoothie Recipe

          We know Summer is officially here when we see watermelons showing up at the local farmer’s market. Watermelon is loaded with antioxidants that help us fight off diseases, especially beta-carotene and Vitamin C. Our bodies use beta-carotene and convert it to Vitamin A, which helps keep our eyesight and skin healthy and strong. Vitamin C helps our wounds heal and boosts up the immune system to keep us from getting sick. Watermelon can also help us stay hydrated throughout the Summer because of its high water content.

          A simple watermelon pina colada smoothie recipe might be what you’re looking for! All you need is chopped watermelon, chopped pineapples, 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt, coconut milk or water, and ice. Mix everything in a blender and you’re ready to go!

March is National Nutrition Month; Let’s Talk About Carbs!

Carbohydrates, also known as carbs, are a confusing topic for a lot of different people. The original USDA Food Guide Pyramid made in 1992 suggested having six to eleven servings of carbohydrates every day, more than any other type of food. Today, some people are trying to cut carbohydrates from their diet entirely! Why has public opinion on carbs changed so much, and how should we really think about them?

What Even Are Carbohydrates?


Carbohydrates are one of the three “macronutrients.” These are the things that you need most of from your food, because they give you energy. The other two macronutrients are fats and proteins. One gram of carbohydrates or proteins will give you  about 4 calories worth of energy, and fats will give you 9 calories of energy per gram. You need each of these three macronutrients to maintain your body. Carbohydrates are what your body prefers to use when you need a quick burst of energy, like when you run. However, your body also can’t hold on to carbohydrates for very long, so it needs to use fats and proteins as well.

Carbohydrates are found in all different sorts of food. When people talk about carbohydrate foods, they are usually talking about things like bread, potatoes, or rice. However, carbohydrates are also abundant in fruits and vegetables. If it comes from a plant, it probably has a lot of carbohydrates!

Carbohydrates and Nutrition

When planning out daily intake of food, the most common recommendation for carbohydrates is that they consist of between 45 – 60% of the amount of calories that you eat every day. However, what is more important than the amount of carbohydrates is the types of carbohydrates that you are eating. You can sort carbohydrates into two major groups: simple sugars and complex carbs. Complex carbohydrates should make up the bulk of the carbs that you eat every day. These include fibers and starches. Fibers and starches mostly come from fruits, vegetables, beans, and from minimally processed grain, like whole wheat bread or brown rice. Simple sugars come from white bread and rice, pastries, and sugary drinks (including juice).

You will notice if you remember MyPlate that over three quarters of the plate is different sources of carbohydrates! Fruits and vegetables make up half of the plate, and grains make up a little more than a quarter of the plate. This is why choosing your source of carbohydrates is so important. For example, it is far better for you to eat whole grains, because you get more fiber (in addition to more vitamins and minerals). When you are picking your fruit for the day, you can get healthier carbohydrates by choosing to eat whole fruits instead of juice. Fruit juice is missing a lot of the starch and fiber that makes fruit good for you, so while you can still get plenty of vitamins, whole fruit is usually the better choice.


Now that you know more about carbohydrates, you can make healthier decisions when you are planning your day!

Low Sodium Strategies

Yesterday we talked about ways to keep your heart healthy. One of the healthy heart tips that we mentioned is reducing the amount of sodium in your diet. Too much sodium contributes to a high blood pressure, and most people in the United States get more sodium than they need. Keeping sodium intake at a healthy level is an important key to preventing heart disease.

Sources of Sodium

The most common source of sodium is from sodium chloride, also known as salt. Many types of foods can have a lot of salt added to them, like french fries and canned soups. However, even if a food doesn’t have any salt in it, there can still be sodium. For example, baking soda is actually sodium bicarbonate. MSG, which can be found in tomatoes, cheeses, and other foods, stands for monosodium glutamate. These both contain sodium, although not as much as you will get from salt. Thankfully, sodium is required to be on a nutrient label as long as there are more than 5 mg in the food.

Reducing Sodium

When you want to reduce sodium in your diet, there are some facts that you should keep in mind. Canned foods often have a lot of sodium in them, as sodium is an important part in the canning process. If you can, try to purchase food that is fresh or frozen. Heavily processed meats like bologna and hot dogs also have a lot of added sodium.

When you want to season your food, look for seasonings that have little to no sodium content. This could mean using pepper, herb spices, or lemon instead of seasoning blends and sauces. On a salad, use a little bit of oil, vinegar, or sodium-free dressing.

With a little bit of effort, you can reduce your intake of sodium and keep your heart healthy!

February is American Heart Month!

Keeping a healthy heart is one of the most important aspects of staying healthy. There are a lot of factors that go into keeping your heart in tip-top shape.

Both the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the WHO (World Health Organization) say that heart disease is the number one mortal illness. However, the number of people who die has been declining for most different types of heart disease. This is because doctors and other medical professionals have learned a lot about how you can stay healthy and have a strong heart. There are three key risk factors that can lead to heart disease, and almost half of Americans have at least one of the three. They are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.


We recently uploaded an article on being smoke free that you can find here. Not only does quitting smoking have a positive effect on your heart health, but smoking can lead to other problems that make other heart disease prevention strategies harder to do. For example, cardio exercise is a good way to improve your heart health, but smoking can lead to trouble breathing, which makes exercising much harder.

Eating Healthy

The type of diet that you have can have a big effect on your heart heath. Some types of foods, especially foods like bacon and steaks, have high amounts of cholesterol. Your body needs cholesterol, but your body can actually make enough of it on its own, so getting too much cholesterol from your food can cause problems with your blood flow by building up inside your arteries. Replacing fattier meats with fish and poultry, as well as having more of your food be fruits and vegetables, can reduce the amount of cholesterol that you eat.

Foods with a lot of sodium (which comes from salt) can increase your blood pressure. This can lead to a lot of different heart problems, so you should aim to keep your intake of sodium close to your recommended intake.

If you already have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe some medicine to help treat it. You should take medications the way that your doctor prescribes you to do. If you don’t take your medicine, it won’t be able to work properly. If you take more than the doctor tells you to, you can have all sorts of bad side effects. Only take medicine in the way that you are instructed.

Heart Healthy You!

Help prevent heart disease by talking about heart health with your friends and family. Heart disease is very common, but with healthy habits, you can keep your heart healthy and strong.

Staying Rested – Healthy New Year!

Getting Enough Sleep

Everyone needs to sleep, but many people don’t get enough. It is important to sleep enough each night, especially for kids.


The National Institutes of Health recommends school-age children to get 10 hours of sleep per night (teenagers should get between 9 and 10 hours of sleep) to keep healthy as they grow. If you miss out on sleep, then you are said to have “sleep debt.” However, sleep debt doesn’t get paid in the same way a debt with money does.

Many people who don’t get enough sleep will take naps to try to counteract their sleep debt, but unfortunately naps are too short to provide the benefits of a full-night’s sleep. When you take a nap, it can help to temporarily boost how awake you feel, but it doesn’t help with some of the major reasons you sleep like restoring energy to your muscles and storing memories.

If you find yourself sleeping in on weekends, that is a sign that you probably aren’t getting enough sleep during the week. Try to go to bed a little earlier during the week so that you get about the same amount of sleep every night. If you get into a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you will find that it is easier to fall asleep and your sleep will be more restful.

Sleep Hygiene

No, sleep hygiene isn’t about taking a bath before going to bed. Rather, sleep hygiene refers to the different things you should do to make sure you get a full night’s sleep.

Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time in the morning. Remember, this is important for keeping your body in a rhythm of sleep.

Sleep in a dark, quiet, relaxing environment. It will be harder to fall asleep if there are distractions such as televisions or homework right next to your bed. If total darkness makes you uncomfortable, try to just have a dim source of light. In addition, try to keep the temperature neither too hot nor too cold. Your body cools off when you sleep, so use a blanket to keep your temperature from changing too much at night.

Avoid large meals before going to bed. Your body won’t want to go to sleep if it is working to digest a lot of food. You can have a small snack a little bit before going to bed to keep from feeling hungry, but don’t eat anything that might keep you awake like chocolate.

If possible, wake up when it is bright out. Since schools start early in the morning, it might be good to have a light on a timer that will turn on before you wake up. Most people have sleep cycles that are slightly longer or slightly shorter than 24 hours, so waking up when it is light out may help keep your body cycle in line.

Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream

The first Monday of February is Frozen Yogurt day, so what better time is there to talk about it? Frozen yogurt has been growing as a popular alternative to ice cream, especially since 1981, when the company TCBY (originally meaning “this can’t be yogurt”) first opened in 1981.

Many people will claim that frozen yogurt is a more healthy food than ice cream, due to the fact that it is made with milk instead of cream. This causes frozen yogurt to generally be a lower-fat alternative, and it has less cholesterol. However, fat isn’t the only part of your nutrition that you should consider. A serving of frozen yogurt is likely to have more sugar than an equivalent amount of ice cream. Because of this, the total number of calories in frozen yogurt and ice cream are often very similar. Since so many of their ingredients are the same, you will get a similar amount of other nutrients as well. A cup of 1% milk has about half of the calories as a cup of frozen yogurt, and has more calcium and vitamin B-12 as well.

Frozen yogurt isn’t very different nutritionally from ice cream, especially if you start adding toppings. Looks like frozen yogurt won’t be part of a healthy diet, but it’s still fun to have as a treat every once in a while!