You may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but what about Giving Tuesday? Unlike the other two days where you are encouraged to spend, Giving Tuesday is about, well, giving.
Although there are many wonderful organizations in our communities that provide valuable services to those that live among them, I thought it would be nice to highlight a few here in Michigan that work diligently to make sure individuals and families have access to foods necessary for good health.
Everyone should have access to quality foods and I’m incredibly grateful that so many organization exist to meet that need.
If you are looking to give today, tomorrow or any time of year, I hope you will consider supporting these organizations or organizations like these where you live.
Community Compassion Network – fighting hunger in Mt. Pleasant, MI and Isabella County
From mobile food pantries to after school nutrition programs, Community Compassion Network is a non-profit organization located in the heart of my city. It’s volunteers worked diligently last year to provide over 308,000 meals to families and individuals in Isabella County! At an average cost of $0.09 per meal, just imagine how far even $10 would go.
Anna’s Table – gathering young mothers and their children around the table in Grand Rapids, MI
This non-profit is incredibly unique in that its not just about the food. Instead, its about coming together around the table to eat, pray, and love each other. Each young family gets a meal, diapers, formula, and a bus pass home.
Currently, this ministry needs more space because they are growing! Just check out this picture! I hope you’ll consider supporting Lisa, the woman behind this ministry, and the great work she is doing.
Food Gatherers – alleviating hunger in Ann Arbor, MI and Washtenaw County
This program makes sure good food doesn’t go to waste. Rescuing food from more than 300 local sources, Food Gatherers makes it possible for other organizations to have access to more nutritious food. It’s Michigan’s first food rescue program and your gift can help maximize its efforts to increase the availability of nutrient-rich foods.
Plus, gifts given between November 29th and December 4th will be matched to double the impact!
Isabella County Soup Kitchen – serving free meals daily in Mt. Pleasant, MI
When you walk through the soup kitchen doors, you can expect a warm atmosphere and a warm meal. These meals are provided unconditionally throughout the year. Right now, you can support the Isabella County Soup Kitchen by participating in their annual fundraiser. A gift of $50 would provide breakfast and lunch for two weeks.
SECOM Resource Center – giving help and hope to families in Grand Rapids, MI and Kent County
There’s more than just food provided through the SECOM Resource Center. From cooking classes to its innovative Farm to Family project, supporting this organization ensures that individuals not only receive the food they need now, but are equipped with the education they need to make positive food choices in the future.
Feeding America West Michigan – ensuring safe food is available to individuals in 40 counties across Michigan
In 2015, Feeding America West Michigan provided over 22 million meals across the Western part of the state. For every dollar donated, 4 meals are provided to those in need. Foods are distributed through food pantries, after school programs, and other anti-hunger agencies in 40 Michigan counties. It’s another great place to share a meal at a fraction of what it probably costs you to eat even one meal at home.
This list was created in collaboration with my friends and family who shared their favorite organizations with me on Facebook. If you have additional information on organizations that help feed our local communities, I hope you will share those with us on my Facebook page.
Vegetables are one of my favorite food groups. Not only do they offer up a variety of essential nutrients, but they also happen to be one of my favorite ways to add texture, flavor, visual appeal and variety to any meal.
Earlier this week I was having a conversation with a woman who just wanted to know one thing – how on earth do you make vegetables worth eating? Perhaps this is a question you too have asked. If so, I can assure you aren’t alone. And for as often as I get asked this question, I never get tired of helping people discover their own solution to this unique dilemma.
Vegetables are what I like to call my “hard to love” food group. Although I’ve loved vegetables for as long as I can remember, I also realize that not everyone was destined to be a dietitian like myself.
No, sadly, not everyone is a veggie fanatic. So if you find yourself pondering deeply over how vegetables should fit into your life, I’ve got a few suggestions specifically for you.
Plan meals around vegetables. Even though approximately half your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables at each meal, they aren’t always the first thing we think of. With so much real estate dedicated to these two food groups though, it can be helpful to prioritize them in the planning process.
When I plan meals, I often like to combine protein-rich foods with some sort of whole grain and a vegetable. Typically, foods from other food groups work their way in too, but I know that when these three foods are present, I’ve got a good base to build from.
Prepare ahead of time. Once you have a plan in place to utilize your vegetables, it may be beneficial to prepare them ahead of time. I typically don’t prep all my vegetables at once, but I do like to prepare extra vegetables at each meal time. This way, I can easily incorporate these into dishes throughout the week. For example, if a meal I’m making only requires half an onion, I’ll prepare the entire onion, reserving the half I don’t use as an easy add in to a meal I might make later in the week.
— Kati Mora MS, RDN (@KatiMoraRD) November 21, 2016
Try a new cooking technique. Do you ever feel like you’ve got the same two meals on repeat at home? Even I struggle with this. As a creature of habit, it can be difficult to get out of routine. So instead of trying to completely reinvent breakfast, lunch and dinner, consider smaller changes that can make an old meal feel new.
One great change? Trying a new-to-you cook method. Because vegetables are often underutilized, they are an easy focal point for trying new techniques. If you haven’t tried roasting, sautéing or grilling vegetables, I would highly recommend doing so.
Pro tip: Try identifying what qualities of foods you enjoy. If you prefer crunchy foods, you may enjoy lightly sautéed vegetables. If you prefer smoother, softer textures roasted vegetables may be more your style.
Pair with foods you love. Although it may be difficult to incorporate vegetables into your day consistently, there are probably foods you love that are much easier to add. When you begin to identify these foods, consider whether vegetables could be incorporated along with them.
For example, if you love spaghetti, it would be rather easy to incorporate vegetables into the sauce. Think Bell peppers, onion, or mushrooms!
Eat by the season. It may seem like there aren’t that many vegetables to choose from, but in reality there are lots of different vegetables available to us throughout the year. By becoming familiar with what is in season and when, you can add versatility to your vegetable round up and make your vegetable intake a lot more fun.
No matter how you look to incorporate vegetables, a good goal to shoot for is approximately 2 1/2 cups per day. If you aren’t quite sure what that looks like, the ChooseMyPlate.gov website is a great resource.
Need more suggestions for incorporating vegetables into your day? Here are some great suggestions from Cooking Light magazine.