Schools

Starting the Day on the Right Foot with Breakfast

Starting the Day on the Right Foot with Breakfast

By Ashley Sears, Esquire, Sponsored Moo Squad athlete Call me crazy, but nothing beats a wholesome, healthy breakfast to start the day.  I like to think of sleep as my time travel to breakfast, and without a solid breakfast, hanger is a real life emotion for me.  My family and friends know that I used to be a “leftovers for breakfast” kind of kid.  It wasn’t unusual to see shepherd’s pie or spaghetti on my plate in the morning before school (not the healthiest options, I know). In high school, I started changing my eating habits and having eggs, toast, and jam. In college, my eating habits were somewhat less disciplined and I would often have sugary cereal or a granola bar. Once I got to law school and realized how important a complete breakfast was to stay focused through late night classes and studying, I took the time to meal prep and have breakfast ready for class the next morning. Overnight oats, yogurt parfaits, and smoothies became my go-to meals. Not only did this benefit me in the classroom, it contributed to my running and overall health. This week, March 6-10, marks National School Breakfast Week. Additionally, throughout the month of March, we recognize and celebrate National Nutrition Month.  This provides an opportunity to talk about healthy lifestyle choices, recipes that taste good and are good for you, and how we can eat well while still leading hectic and busy lives. The National School Breakfast Week program was founded in 1989 through the collaborative efforts of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the School Nutrition Association. The program provides over 13 million breakfast meals to school-aged children, regardless of economic background, helping students to be alert and productive during the school day. This year’s theme for National School Breakfast Week is “Take the School Breakfast Challenge,” which encourages students, parents, and teachers to start their morning with a healthy breakfast. Often short on time and trying to complete a million tasks before the school day starts, taking time the night before to prepare breakfast is a great option to save time and ensure that you aren’t skipping breakfast the next day.  Incorporating dairy products into breakfast is also a surefire way to get the necessary protein, calcium, and vitamins you need to stay focused, energized, and full until lunch. Here are a few of my favorite breakfast recipes, that can be made ahead of time and provide a bounty of protein, vitamins, and flavor! Wild Blueberry Smoothie: ½ cup milk 1 scoop vanilla protein powder ½ cup vanilla or plain yogurt ½ cup frozen wild blueberries 1 tsp. cinnamon Handful of ice cubes Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender.  Blend until desired consistency.  Place in freezer overnight and let thaw in morning.  Enjoy on your way to work or school. Maple Overnight Oats: ½ cup steel cut oats ½ cup milk ½ scoop vanilla protein powder 1 T pure maple syrup ½ cup chopped apples 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. nutmeg 1 T chopped walnuts or almonds Bring oats and milk to a boil on the stove.  Stir in protein powder, maple syrup, spices, and chopped apples.  Place in a Ball Mason jar or microwave safe container and sprinkle nuts on top.  Store in fridge and reheat in microwave for one minute in the morning. Patriotic Parfait: ¾ cup vanilla or plain yogurt ¼ cup blueberries ¼ cup diced strawberries ¼ cup raspberries ¼ cup granola of choice (I love GrandyOats Wild Blueberry granola; check for sugar amounts on granola, as some can contain a...

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Maine FUTP60 students receive grants to transform their schools

Maine FUTP60 students receive grants to transform their schools

We are always excited to see how active Maine students are in Fuel Up to Play 60, and it’s fantastic to see Maine schools and students rewarded (beyond improved school wellness) for their involvement, whether through grants, scholarships, prizes, or opportunities to travel and attend leadership events. Recently, two more students were rewarded with grants to transform fitness within their schools. Fuel Up to Play 60 student ambassadors Tyr Ronco of Ridge View Community School in Dexter and Boden Gould of Bath Middle School each received up to $1,000 from the Presidential Youth Fitness Program School Transformation Contest, a national grant competition that rewarded 100 students. Tyr and his peers in the school’s Wellness Program would like to see year-round opportunities for fitness, not just within Ridge View, but for the entire community. The grant money will be used rebuild trails around the school to be used for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter and running and hiking in the warmer months. They also would like to update the small fitness center at the school and introduce lacrosse as a possible after school club. “The grant money will increase the activities that are available to the students and community, help kids get more active, promote healthy life habits, and make our community a better place to live and play in,” Tyr wrote. In his application, Boden said his school had the basic essentials for physical education but that the Fuel Up to Play 60 team and the school’s gym teacher would like to see other options available to students outside the mainstream gym equipment in hopes of making physical activity fun for more students. He requested funds for things like pogo sticks and four way tug of war ropes. He also asked for new goalie equipment for the school’s large floor hockey tournaments. “I would like to have new floor hockey goalie equipment, so our goalies would be much safer while playing this sport,” he wrote. “Students also will not have to worry about being hit by a puck.” Congratulations to both Boden and Tyr and their schools! February...

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Milk just got a whole lot cooler

Milk just got a whole lot cooler

Having cold milk (or milk that isn’t slushy with ice) at lunch would seem a given for school cafeterias, but because of aging equipment, some schools have struggled to do that. Recently, the Maine Dairy and Nutrition Council (MDNC) and its Fuel Up to Play 60 program, funded by Maine dairy farmers, awarded six Maine schools grant funds to purchase new milk coolers – Coastal Ridge in York, Center Drive School in Orrington, Ella P. Burr School in Lincoln, Beech Hill School in Otis, Edmunds Consolidated School in Edmunds Township, and Edna Drinkwater School in Northport. A large number of schools applied for the small equipment grants, far beyond what was available for funds, and the MDNC selected based on the most basic of needs – a working milk cooler. This fall, we have visited many of the schools during lunchtime to celebrate the new coolers. On Tuesday, Nov.8, we were at Edmunds Consolidated, which is a K-8 school. Cindy Cox, the school’s food service director, said the milk cooler was a much needed piece of equipment that the school would not have otherwise been able to afford. “Our other one would ice up, and I had to defrost it once a week,” she said. The school has no walk-in coolers, and the milk crates would take up too much room in the refrigerators.  “We only get a milk delivery once a week, so it all has to fit.” The new cooler solves the problem. Jane and Aaron Bell of nearby Tide Mill Organic Farm were also able to be at the school. Jane helped us hand out fun dairy stuff to the students (stickers, pencils and bracelets), while her son Aaron brought Arugula, a 3-week-old Lineback calf, for the students to meet during recess. Aaron told the students that Arugula will be two years old before she has her first calf and becomes a milk cow. Until then she will be hanging out on the farm and living a life much like them – “she has a lot of friends, has a nice place to live and eats lots of good food,” he said.               Our new dietetic intern Zakk got to make the trip to Edmunds with us, so we made sure to stop by Tide Mill Organic Farm because we always like to give future dietitians an opportunity to see where all that nutritious dairy starts out. If you’ve never been there, Tide Mill is located right on the water’s edge, just about as far east as you can go in the State of Maine. The cows have some of the most scenic pastures you’ll find in the state. The farm offers tours depending on the time of year, so be sure to check it out if you’re ever in that neck of the woods. The first Bell settled here in 1765 and built a grist mill powered by the tide (hence Tide Mill). One of the grist stones is still there, and you can see timbers that used to be part of the dam, now covered by seaweed.     The farm encompasses 1600 acres and is truly a diversified operation. While it has been a dairy farm for much of its history, the Bell’s actually stopped milking cows in 1977. “Someone was coming from New York to buy the herd of registered Brown Swiss when we were headed to the hospital to have Aaron,” Jane said. Ironically, it was Aaron, a member of the eighth generation on the farm, who wanted to bring milk cows back to the farm...

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2016 Summer Meals Cooler Grant Application

2016 Summer Meals Cooler Grant Application

The Maine Dairy and Nutrition Council recognizes the importance of a healthy, nutritious summer meals program to the health of Maine children. Summer meals provide the nutritional bridge between the end of one school year and the beginning of a new school year. The Maine Dairy and Nutrition Council is committed to helping schools increase participation in their summer meals programs so students return to school in the fall, healthy and ready to learn. The Maine Dairy and Nutrition Council also knows kids will drink more milk if it’s displayed attractively and served icy cold. To help schools do both during the summer and school year, Maine Dairy and Nutrition Council will award up to three, Fuel Up to Play 60 soft-sided insulated coolers and accompanying ice packs to twenty (20) Maine school districts participating in the USDA Summer Meals Program. Each brightly colored, soft-sided, insulated cooler holds one standard milk crate. Interested school nutrition directors are asked to complete the application (link below) and return it to the address below by April 29, 2016. Preference will be given to schools enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60 and school nutrition directors who are signed up as Fuel Up to Play 60 Program Advisors. To see whether your school is enrolled and to sign up as a Program Advisor, visit www.FuelUpToPlay60.com If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact: Katie Hoffmann Maine Dairy and Nutrition Council 333 Cony Road Augusta, ME 04330 Catherine@drinkmainemilk.org 207-287-3621 207-287-7161(fax) 2016 Summer Meals Cooler Grant...

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Hate to admit it, but Mom was right …

Hate to admit it, but Mom was right …

The week of March 7-11 is National School Breakfast Week, but many of us don’t gain an appreciation for how important breakfast is until we are in our adult years. This special blog post comes from the newest member of our Moo Squad – Ashley Sears, Esq. A runner, Ashley is also the marketing specialist for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.    Growing up, we often can recall our mothers telling us to eat our breakfast, as “it is the most important meal of the day.”  I typically chose a few more minutes of sleep, grabbed a pop-tart on my way out the door, or skipped breakfast entirely.  I was used to early mornings on the farm and looked forward to the mid-morning coffee break with my family on the weekends.  We’d share a sit-down breakfast together, usually consisting of eggs, bacon or sausage, and toast, and a cup of coffee (I think after “cow” or “milk”, every farm kid’s second word is “coffee”).  During the school week, it was a different story, as I neglected to heed Mom’s sage wisdom and settled for sugary treats, leftovers from last night’s dinner (spaghetti is an acceptable breakfast, right carb-loving athletes?!), or listened to my stomach growl while I waited all morning for the lunch bell to ring.  Little did I know that when I started life in the real world and had big girl responsibilities, how much I would love breakfast!     As I found a passion and stress reliever in running during law school, I started to read more about the importance of breakfast for fueling our muscles, helping to maintain a healthy weight, keeping us attentive during the day, and even improving our moods.  The key is to choose the right breakfast foods though, saying no to sugar-laden pastries and cereals and instead, choosing a meal that contains protein, fiber, and key vitamins and minerals.  By opting for a yogurt parfait instead of a sticky bun, our bodies tend to stay more energized, alert, and keep us going throughout the morning without “hitting a wall.”  Doctors, nutritionists, trainers, teachers, and parents alike have all recognized the importance of a healthy, nutritious breakfast and encouraged more programs and initiatives to help aid their efforts. The National School Breakfast Week program was founded in 1989 through the collaborative efforts of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the School Nutrition Association.  The program provides over 13 million breakfast meals to school-aged children, regardless of economic background, helping students to be alert and productive during the school day.  This week, March 7-11, marks National School Breakfast Week.  Additionally, throughout the month of March, we recognize and celebrate National Nutrition Month.  This provides an opportunity to talk about healthy lifestyle choices, recipes that taste good and are good for you, and how we can eat well while still leading hectic and busy lives. As a farmer’s daughter and dairy-loving girl, I include dairy in my breakfast each morning.  To celebrate National School Breakfast Week, I’ve provided five recipes to help kick-start your day!  Whether you’re currently a breakfast person or just joining us crazy people that call sleep our time machine to breakfast, these recipes offer healthy, creative options for you to try.  Hopefully by the end of the week you’ll be hopping on the breakfast train and realizing that we shouldn’t celebrate for only a week, but rather every day…because breakfast is just that amazing!   Recipes from Ashley Sears’ Kitchen   Monday, March 7th: PB&J Smoothie 1 cup milk ½ cup strawberry or vanilla Greek...

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Join the Fuel Up to Play 60 team!

Join the Fuel Up to Play 60 team!

Looking for ways to make eating right and getting physically active more fun for your students? Fuel Up to Play 60 has you covered, and it’s also a great way for students to develop leadership skills. Students who are active can rack up points and are then eligible to become a student ambassador! How to get started :  Guide to Student Registration How to earn points and achieve new levels: Guide to Earn Collect Achieve As always, for more information, visit...

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