Food For Thought… A word from the JFCS Food Pantry

blueberry heart

Wishing you a “berry” happy summer!

Summer is in full swing and it’s easy to eat the rainbow with all of the local NJ produce available this time of year.

Dr. Michael Greger, who organizes the health blog on and conducts health and nutrition research counts berries of all kinds as part of what he calls “the daily dozen” (a list of 12 things we should try to eat every day).

He recommends at least 1 serving per day, which is 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen berries or 1/4 cup of dried berries.

Both of the recipes for this month will help you meet your berry intake goals and are low in added sugars as well. Hope you find July’s recipes and nutrition information to be BERRY delicious and informative.

What are some of your favorite things to do with NJ berries?

July is National Blueberry Month!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture named July as National Blueberry Month! If any fruit deserves its own month of honorable recognition, the little blue beauty certainly does. Read on to learn about the blueberry and its benefits:

*Blueberries are native to the US and are grown in 35 out of 50 states, supplying roughly 95% of the entire world’s crop.

*Flavors range from puckery tart to mildly sweet, and are in full seasonal swing somewhere from April through October, but July is prime blueberry season, especially in NJ.

*Blueberries can also be enjoyed frozen or dried at other times of the year.

*Experts often include blueberries in their Top 10 Lists of the healthiest foods, since, like many fruits, they are rich in fiber (4 grams per cup), low in calories (85 calories per cup) and boast Vitamin C and other important antioxidants.

*Blueberries get their deep purple-blue color from anthocyanin pigments that have long been thought to have health benefits including reducing inflammation.

*When shopping, look for firm blueberries with even coloring.

*Once you get them home, don’t wash them until ready to eat or use in a recipe. Try to eat them within three to five days.

*If you’ve got extra on hand, freeze them in an air-tight plastic bag for later use.

*Blueberries are perfect for topping hot or cold breakfast cereal and adding to pancakes. But there are other great ways to use them, besides making a pie. Try tossing a handful on your green salad or stirring them into a whole grain pilaf. Mix some into vanilla Greek yogurt for a great snack.

What’s Cooking in Gale’s Kitchen?                                             Fresh, Healthy, Simple and Delicious ways to enjoy fruit from Gale Cohen, RD, CDE

Blueberry Nectarine Granola Crisp (makes 8 servings)blueberry granola


Fruit Filling

5 cups blueberries
2 large nectarines, peeled, chopped
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour (can substitute whole wheat flour)
zest of 1 lemon

 Granola Topping

1 1/2 cups regular oats
2 tbsp chopped pecans
2 tbsp chopped almonds
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Combine the blueberries, nectarines, brown sugar, flour, and lemon zest in a medium bowl;
    toss to coat.
    3. Spoon fruit mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.
    4. For the topping, combine all ingredients and toss to evenly coat oat mixture and nuts with syrup.
    5. Sprinkle granola over the blueberry nectarine mixture.
    6. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt, ice cream, or whipped topping.

Per serving: 241 calories, 41 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat),  5 g fiber,  Calories from fat: 28%.

blueberry pizza

Watermelon Pizza

Make an attractive and healthy dessert or snack with watermelon, yogurt, and whatever fruits and berries you have on hand!


Pizza “crust”
Seedless watermelon

Pizza “sauce”
Vanilla or plain yogurt (dairy or non-dairy almond, soy, or coconut)


(Choose from below!)

Blueberries, sliced strawberries, blackberries, bananas, coconut flakes, chopped walnuts or pecans, fresh mint


  1. Slice the watermelon in half. Then slice it into 2 inch thick round slices.
  2. Slice watermelon round into 6 pizza slices.
  3. Spread yogurt on the pink parts of the slices for your pizza sauce.
  4. Top it with any or all of the above fruit and nut toppings.





We all know it’s hot! Here are some tips for staying cool…

7186764707_2e67090b3c_qThis article was written by Beth Englezos, Program Manager for Secure@Home

In case you haven’t been outside yet…it’s HOT!  JFCS wants to give you some information that we’ve gathered on staying cool and well during these dog days of summer.

Did you know that many municipalities will open cooling centers? Call your local government office or library to find out more.


  • Wear lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing that covers the skin as much as possible.
  • Avoid strenuous activity, especially during the sun’s peak hours, 11 AM to 4 PM.
  • Drink fluids, particularly water, even if you do not feel thirsty, avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine, or high amounts of sugar.
  • Never leave children, the elderly, or pets alone in closed vehicles.
  • Provide plenty of cool fresh water for your pets and remember to keep them indoors and out of the sun

 Avoiding Heat Exhaustion

According to the U.S. National Institute on Aging, the risk of heat related illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion increases with age.  Researchers explain that as people get older, they are less able to adapt to high temperatures, and heat might exacerbate any medical conditions they have.  In addition, older adults might develop certain health problems that could increase their risk of hyperthermia (when the body overheats).

These medical issues include:

  • Congestive heart failure, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Trouble walking or moving
  • Dementia or problems with cognition
  • Dehydration

It is important to note that medications may cause dehydration or affect the ability of their heart, blood vessels or sweat glands to respond to the heat.  Environment can also influence a person’s response to the heat. For instance, not having access to air conditioning or transportation, or overdressing could put them at greater risk for heat-related illnesses involving hyperthermia, including heat fatigue; heat syncope (lightheadedness or fainting in the heat); heat cramps; and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke (an advanced form of hyperthermia) sets in when the body’s temperature hits 104 degrees F.

The following are signs of heat stroke:

  • A strong, rapid pulse
  • Lack of sweating
  • Dry, flushed skin
  • Faintness
  • Staggering
  • Change of mental status, including confusion and disorientation

If it is suspected that someone is suffering from a heat-related illness, you are advised to take the following steps:

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Move them into air conditioning or other cool place.
  • Urge them to lie down and rest.
  • Remove or loosen tight-fitting or heavy clothing.
  • Encourage them to drink water or juices if they are able to drink, but avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Apply cold water or cold compresses to their skin.



Here are some tips for keeping cool from WikiHow.

  • Put a small pillow in the freezer an hour or two before you go to bed. Put a few plastic shopping bags over it to keep ice from forming on the fabric.
  • Use silk or satin pillowcases, and satin sheets. These fabrics will feel smoother and cooler as you sleep.
  • Add mint leaves, or orange, lemon or cucumber slices to your water to make it more refreshing.
  • Get a cheap spray bottle – fill it with water, adjust it to fine mist and spray it on your exposed skin for an instant chill-zing cooling effect.
  • Keep the back of your neck in shade (wear a cap backwards, or raise your collar) or put a wet handkerchief on the back of the neck. The sensor for our body temperature control system is in this area, and so with this method you can make the rest of your body think that you are “cool”.
  • Place or tie an icepack behind your head.
  • Wet all your hair, or just all along the hairline in a pinch. The evaporation of the water will cool your head (though it may make your hair a bit frizzy if it’s curly!).
  • Wear a bandana with water soaked on it and put it on your head. Or you can relive the 80’s and wear a wet terry cloth headband on your forehead.
  • Try using a water misting fan. These portable devices are battery operated so you can take them with you wherever you go. As you mist and fan yourself, the water is evaporated on your skin, giving you an instant cooling sensation.
  • Run cold water over your wrists for 10 seconds on each hand. This will reduce your temperature for roughly an hour.
  • Soak your feet in a bucket of cold water. The body radiates heat from the hands, feet, face and ears, so cooling any of these will efficiently cool the body. Kids wading pools are great for adults feet too.
  • Fill your bathtub with cool water and get in. Once you are used to the temperature, let some water out and refill with cold water. Keep doing this until you are sufficiently cold. Your body will stay cool for a long time after you get out. For a fast cool-down, add ice!
  • Wear light colors. Darker colors will absorb the sun’s heat and stay warmer longer than light or white clothing, which reflects light and heat. Wear natural summer clothing.
  • Stock your freezer with flavored ice treats. Freeze a bag of chopped fruit such as watermelon, pineapple or lemons. Cooling down can be a tasty experience too!
  • Use cucumbers. Slice a thin piece of cold cucumber (from the fridge or a cooler) and stick it in the middle of your forehead! This feels fantastic on a hot day or when stuck in a hot car and works almost immediately! An ice cube or a cold soda can work similarly, though the astringency of the cucumber is more refreshing for your eyelids.
  • Think cool. Read books about climbing Mount Everest, visiting Norway, or watch winter movies like “March of the Penguins” and “Ice Age.” You might not be physically cooler, but if your mind envisions a cold environment, you might feel a bit cooler.
  • Sit still. Do not try to fan yourself – trying to move while feeling hot can make you feel hotter. Simply rest until the evening.
  • Set up a water misting system that connects to an ordinary garden hose that can be found at home improvement stores. Sit there and let the mist cool you off.

For the complete list, see the original article at