Tips to more healthful spring and summer celebrations

Nourish your body every time you eat.

Luella Morehouse

Celebrations often are exciting and memorable times filled with family, friends and food. Nourish your body every time you eat, whether you are celebrating a birthday, graduation, wedding shower, holiday or every day. Try these three tips:

Incorporate at least three different food groups into celebration foods.

MyPlate includes five food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, protein and dairy.


When deciding on the menu, think how you can incorporate at least three of these food groups. Here are some ways to add nutrition and variety to your menu:

  • Make sandwiches with whole-grain breads or use whole-grain pasta in salads.

  • Include a colorful vegetable tray on the menu.

  • Try fruit parfaits instead of cake as a sweet treat.

  • Use lean or extra-lean beef and poultry in sandwiches and casseroles, or serve hummus (made from protein-rich chickpeas) as a tasty dip with pita chips.

  • Replace higher-fat sour cream with plain yogurt in dips.

Explore ingredient substitutions.

Trim calories and/or add fiber, vitamins and minerals with these more healthful swaps. See the NDSU Extension publication “Now Serving: Recipe Makeovers” for many ideas.


  • Swap 1 cup sour cream to 1 cup nonfat yogurt (healthful swap)

  • Swap 1 cup mayonnaise to 1 cup nonfat yogurt (healthful swap)

  • Swap 1 cup all-purpose flour to ½ cup flour plus ½ cup whole-wheat flour (healthful swap)

  • Swap ½ cup oil to ¼ cup oil plus ¼ cup applesauce (healthful swap)

Make food fun.

Get kids (and adults) involved in food preparation. Have a food activity, such as making “bugs on a log” (celery, nut butter and raisins). Or create a picture on your plate with healthful foods.

Question: My grandchildren try to avoid vegetables, but I’m trying to encourage them to try some new vegetables. We have a community garden near us. When can we start planting?

Gardening with children is an excellent way to promote good health in many ways. Your children (and you) will get exercise as they weed and water the garden, and your family will have delicious vegetables to eat throughout the season.


The first couple of weeks of May are a good time to plant leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, carrots and potatoes. The last weeks in May are best for beans, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and tomatoes. Lettuce will be the first “crop” you will harvest.

Through gardening, children learn many skills beyond nutrition and fitness. They learn about cooperation and working with others. For more tips, see “Gardening with Children” (available from ).

Learn more about gardening by viewing any of the archived webinars from the Field to Fork series. See and click on “All Archived Webinars” to learn about a wide range of content.

Article used with permission from Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension, NOURISH newsletter, Issue 40. For more information, contact the Stutsman County Extension office at 252-9030 or email .

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