Food, Nutrition, and Healthy by the Month

National Food Days, Weeks & Months

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Contributors:  Kayla Colgrove, MS, RD, UNL Extension in Gage County; Alice Henneman, MS, RD, UNL Extension in Lancaster County; and Lisa Franzen Castle, MS, RD, PhD, Panhandle Research and Extension Center.

Questions or comments? Email Kayla Colgrove, MS, RD, ACSM-CPT

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OCTOBER

Quick Links to Days, Weeks, and Months in Calendar

Click on a link to find TIPS, RECIPES, and RESOURCES related to that day, week or month. Or simply scroll down the page.

National Food Days

* Day changes yearly

National Food Weeks

National Food Months

DAY

Child Health Day (1st Monday)

5-4-3-2-1 Go!

Nutrition and physical activity play an important role in a child's health. Staying healthy can be easy to remember when you think about five numbers. 5-4-3-2-1 Go! is a program that was developed by the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children. Each number represents the following:

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Walk to School Day (October 8)*

kids_walking

Join kids and families around the globe to walk and bicycle to school on October 5 to promote physical activity. Check out this website to find out more information on Walk to School Day. Learn more about pedestrian safety to help kids stay safe on their walk to school. Make sure to check out the Walk Nebraska newsletter "Kids and Walking" for additional information.

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Chocolate Day (October 28)

chocolate_chips

Can you believe eating chocolate actually has health benefits? Chocolate contains flavonoid compounds that act as antioxidants:

  • Reduce free radicals produced by oxygen
  • Lower LDL cholesterol
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Reduce platelet aggregation

Eating as little as 7 grams of dark chocolate may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Be careful though, eating too many calories from chocolate may lead to weight gain. Aim for eating 90 to 100 kcal/d of dark chocolate to gain health benefits without gaining weight. Learn more about Chocolate - A  Functional Food.

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Oatmeal Day (October 29)

blueberry oatmeal

Oatmeal has many nutritional benefits, and it is a great way to start your morning. Eating a bowl of oatmeal can help reduce blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and obesity. For a quick and inexpensive breakfast idea, learn how to make your own instant oatmeal packets from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Find out more information about oatmeal by checking out A "Nutritionally Hot" Recipe for Oatmeal.

Here are some additional recipes using oatmeal:

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Halloween (October 31)

halloween

5 Tips to a healthier Halloween:

  1. Hand out healthier treats rather than just candy (granola bars; snack packs such as trail mix, raisins, crackers, or pretzels; 100% juice boxes; non-candy Halloween treats such as stickers, bookmarks, tattoos, erasers, and pencils).
  2. Eat a nutritious meal before going trick-or-treating, so children are not hungry and only want to eat candy for supper.
  3. Limit the number of treats your child can have each day. (Make sure to decide the appropriate number ahead of time and let children know the limits and why it is important to limit candy)
  4. Keep candy out of reach to prevent continuous and mindless eating of candy.
  5. Eat a piece of candy with a glass of milk or apple slices to add some healthy nutrients.

Check out more Halloween ideas:

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WEEK
National School Lunch Week (October 13-17, 2014) *

Colorful School Lunch Tray"Get in the Game with School Lunch"  is the celebration theme for NSLW 2014. It's all about emphasizing the importance of balancing healthy eating and physical activity for kids according to the School Nutrition Association (SNA). Check the SNA website for resources:

To see all the exciting things that are happening in School Lunch Programs, visit the School Meals that Rock Facebook page.

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(Image courtesy of School Meals That Rock from Campbell County Schools, Gillette, Wyoming)

Bone and Joint Decade National Action Week (October 12-20)

dairy foods

Bone and Joint Action Health National Awareness Week focuses on arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, and trauma to increase awareness of prevention, disease management and treatments. Osteoporosis can be prevented by focusing on getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and regular exercise. 10 million Americans are estimated to have osteoporosis. 34 million more have low bone mass. Calcium and vitamin D are included in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines nutrients of concern list because consumption of dairy foods is lower than the recommended intake.

Good sources of calcium include:

  • Dairy products (e.g. Low fat or nonfat milk, cheese, and yogurt)
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (e.g. Bok Choy and broccoli)
  • Calcium fortified foods (e.g. Orange juice, cereal, bread, soy beverages, and tofu products)
  • Nuts (Almonds)

Vitamin D is needed in order for your body to absorb calcium. Your body is able to get  vitamin D from 3 sources such as sunlight, foods and supplements. The amount of vitamin D made by your skin depends on time of day, season, latitude, and skin pigmentation. Foods that are usually fortified with Vitamin D are milk, some yogurts, breakfast cereals, margarine, orange juice, and soy beverages. Natural sources of vitamin D include fish (e.g. salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna) and egg yolks. Recommended daily intake for vitamin D with minimal sun exposure is 600 IU/day for children and most adults and 800 IU for adults older than 70 years. Check out the National Osteoporosis Foundation to find more information about osteoporosis.

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MONTH
Apple Month

apples

Did you know that there are around 100 varieties of apples grown commercially in the United States? Only 15 varieties  of apples make up the majority of apple productions. Ever wondered about which apple to use for which recipe or when apples are in season? Check out this Apple Variety Guide from the U.S. Apple Association.

Enjoy these apple recipes from our Recipe Central section.

Try these Quick & Healthy Apple Recipes from Families, Food & Fitness:

Got an abundance of apples? Try tray-freezing apple slices for later use.

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Cranberry Month

cranberries

Cranberries may help prevent urinary tract infections. They also contain powerful antioxidants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Learn how to select, store, and prepare cranberries from Nebraska's Nutrition Education Program. Check out more cranberry recipes from US cranberries.

Additonal Recipes:

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Eat Better, Eat Together Monthfamily eating together
 

Eating family meals together leads to more nutritious meals and improved communication between children and adults. Check out Nebraska's Nutrition Education Program article titled, "The Importance of Family Mealtime". Have a busy schedule? Check out tips on how to have more family meals by Lisa Franzen-Castle, PhD, RD.

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Farm to School Month


apple and booksIn November 2010, Congress approved a resolution to designate October as National Farm to School Month to demonstrate the growing importance and role of Farm to School programs in improving child nutrition, supporting local economies, and educating children about the origins of food.

Contact your state's  National Farm to School Network State Leader for ideas about celebrating this month.

Find additional resources on the National Farm to School website.

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Pasta Month

pasta

Visit the National Pasta Association's website for cooking tips and recipes. Learn how to prepare the perfect pasta or choose a pasta shape. The National Pasta Association offers tips to make healthy and quick cooking a reality. Choose MyPlate recommends a quarter of your plate to be filled with grains. A 1/2 cup of cooked pasta counts as 1 ounce equivalent from the grains group.

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Popcorn Popping Month

popcorn

Did you know popcorn counts as a whole grain? Choose MyPlate recommends getting at least half of your grains from whole grains.  One serving of whole grains equals three cups of popcorn.

Eating popcorn is a great way to increase your intake of whole grains and your daily fiber intake. Be careful when adding toppings like butter and salt because it can turn into an unhealthy snack. Try to make popcorn with little or no added salt or butter. Check out Popcorn with Pizzazz recipe from Penn State Extension or Chili Popcorn from Kids Eat Right.

Find popping tips, nutrition information and RECIPES (many would be great for a Halloween party!) at the Popcorn Board Website.

Check out great microwave popcorn snack recipes such as Cheery Cherry Popcorn, Popcorn S'mores, PB & J Popcorn, and many more from Youth and 4H: Cooking with Kids.

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Pork Month

pork

Eating pork is a great way to get protein and many important nutrients into your diet. Visit www.porkbeinspired.com for recipes that fall into 4 categories: health conscious, kid-friendly, leftover meal ideas, and quick & easy meals.

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Vegetarian Awareness Month

vegetarian mealResources:

Flickr image courtesy of Jean-Francois Chenier per CC license

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October food calendar

 

Food Calendar

UNL Extension's Calendar of Food Days, Weeks, and Months is a monthly, web-based food-themed calendar. It provides resources for selected national food-themed days, weeks, and months.

We hope this provides you inspiration for blogs, tweets, programs, and articles.

~Kayla Colgrove, MS, RD, ACSM-CPT

► For more timely food tips and inspiration, visit my blog, Making HealthieRDecisions

Healthy Bites Newsletter

Printer-friendly PDF handouts
By Lisa Franzen Castle, MS, RD, PhD Email author

 


UNL Food Features

(Updated October 30, 2014)

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