Activate Your Meals

Did You Know?

The Rx abbreviation for prescriptions literally means “take,” from the Latin word “recipe.” No wonder Hippocrates said “”Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer are all diet-related diseases. 

So this summer, eat fresh and as the Vulcans say, “Live Long and Propser.” Here are some tips to help you along.

Capril grilled vegetables


What you buy impacts what you are able to cook and what you grab for in a pinch.

  1. Shop Healthy, Eat Healthy – Eating healthier starts with healthier shopping. It’s been proven that one of the critical steps to having healthier food in the house is to actually make a shopping list with meals in mind. Shop for fat-free or reduced-fat dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese) and lean protein sources (skinless poultry, fish, turkey sausage), and have freshly washed vegetables and fruit available at all times.
  2. Eat Smart, Cheap –  It’s 100% possible to eat healthy on a small budget (USDA research proves it).  Smart ways to stretch your dollars include:
  3. Shop the Seasons – In California, we are blessed with an abundance of produce year-round. By shopping with the seasons you can ensure you are eating food at the height of freshness, full of nutrients, and more likely to be local and free of pesticides. The farmers’ market is chock full of seasonal food, but ask the helpful staff at your local grocery store, too. These seasonal food charts – onetwo – and this cool local food wheel can help.

Refreshing New Choices

  1. Snack attack – Women office workers have been shown to eat up to 1/3 of their total calories in workplace snacks, primarily driven by boredom, not hunger. Bring fresh, washed fruit with you to the office, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and portion out your snacks ahead of time.

  2. Make Spa Water at Home –  Been enjoying refreshing Spa Water with your co-workers or at a spa? Help your family kick the soda habit and make spa water at home. Any combination of cut fruit and herbs can be yummy: Mixed Citrus; Lemon-Rosemary; Cucumber; Pineapple-Mint are all tasty varieties. Try some of the recipes we have detailed here.

  3. Rethink Your Drink – The #1 source of extra calories for Americans are sugary drinks. Both regular soda and diet soda actually increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes. So cut the soda altogether and try water or unsweetened iced tea. Remember, sports drinks and juice drinks can often be just as full of sugar. Learn more and pledge your change.
  4. Eat Smart When Eating Out – When dining out, cut fat calories by choosing grilled or broiled meats. Also look for lower-fat meats, such as sirloin. Request a small serving size. Serving size does matter!
  5. Snack Packing Party – 

    Take 5 minutes each night to prep your snacks for the next day, or assign a night – like Sunday – to gather snacks for the whole week. You can use small Tupperware to pack cut-up fruits and vegetables, whole grain crackers and cereal, low-fact cheese, and spreads.  Apple slices with peanut butter, low-fat yogurt with strawberries, air-popped popcorn, baby carrots and red pepper sticks with low-fat dip like hummus, and homemade trail mix made with whole grain cereal, nuts, and dried fruit are all great options.

  6. You Turkey! – Replace ground beef in recipes with ground turkey to lower the amount of saturated fat. You can add spices like cumin or sage to make up for turkey’s milder flavor.

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”  
~Doug Larson

What About New Foods?

  1. Try Something New – This week, introduce one totally new item into your diet. Shop the farmers market, or even your local grocery, and ask the vendor how to use a produce item you don’t recognize. They will be happy to help you! Read about 8 Super-Healthy Foods We Guarantee Your Kids Will Eat, or just pick up a cookbook from your own collection or local library, and make a random dish. You can also surf Epicurious for some of the best recipes from Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and SELF magazines.
  2. A Day Without Meat – Cutting back on meat, especially red meat and processed meat, can be a great benefit to your health and your wallet. Try “Meatless Monday” or one other day a week. This site has great recipes and celebrity endorsements from the likes of Russell Simmons, Giada de Laurentis, Jessica Simpson, and Olivia Wilde.
  3. Upgrade Your Recipes – It’s easy to make classic family recipes just a bit healthier. Check out this Everyday Healthy Meals Cookbook for all the meals (plus snacks and dessert). Try a range of Healthy Latino Recipes Made with Love, or these Mexican updates in Flavors of My Kitchen. African American dishes are at Soulful Recipes – building healthy traditions.  For updated Chinese dishes see Healthy Chinese Cuisine Using Fruits and Vegetables.

Cook Up a Storm

Not much of a cook? Check out all these great resources from WIC.

General Information on Cooking

  • Basic Cooking Supplies and Foods (PDF)
  • Basic Cooking Terms (PDF)
  • Cooking Abilities of Young Children (PDF)
  • How to Cook with Young Children (PDF)
  • Safety Tips for Cooking with Children (PDF)
  • Recipes

  • Let’s Cook with Kids Cookbook (PDF, 7.5 MB)
  • Quick and Easy Child-Friendly Recipes
  • Healthy Habits Every Day Recipes