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Coronavirus COVID-19

COVID-19 Advisory: WSU Extension is working to keep our communities safe. All Extension programming is being provided virtually, postponed, or canceled. Effective March 16, 2020, WSU Extension county offices and WSU Research & Extension Centers will be closed to the public. We are available via email, phone, and webconference.

Trick or Treat for Health: Ideas for Halloween

Halloween is a favorite holiday for many kids. But Halloween candy isn’t always a favorite for parents. How can parents keep the joy of Halloween, and still make sure our kids are eating healthy? Here are some tips you can try at school or at home!

  • Include some non-candy items in your treats. Great substitutions for candy are:
    • Spooky fruit and veggie snacks
    • Halloween themed pencils or stickers
    • Small toys or costume items
  • Avoid banning candy altogether. Studies show that kids who are not allowed to eat candy tend to eat more forbidden foods when they have access to them than kids who are allowed treats regularly.
  • Help your child learn how to manage sweets.  On Halloween night they can eat as much candy as they want, but after that candy can only be eaten as dessert with a meal or at snack time.  If your child can follow the rules, they get to keep control of their stash.
  • If you limit the number of pieces a child can eat at a given time, let the child choose which kinds of candy they want.
  • Food $ense educator Candida plans a visit from the “Sugar Ghost.”  Her kids choose a certain amount of candy to keep, and the rest goes into a bowl.  At night, the Sugar Ghost (aka Candida) replaces the candy in the bowl with toys or other small gifts.
  • Trick or Treat for Unicef, or collect change for another charity instead of candy.  Find more info at If you and your family are eating a healthy, balanced diet most of the time, special treats or “sometimes” foods at Halloween or other holidays are okay!For more tips, see this article from the Ellyn Satter Institute, available in English and Spanish.


Stay Active, Rain or Shine

As the seasons change, it can be hard to motivate yourself to stay active. But physical activity is important to our health and wellbeing even when the weather is bad. Being active has many health benefits, and it even helps improve your mood and helps you sleep better!

Adults need 30 minutes of physical activity on most days to stay healthy. Children need 60 minutes or more of active play each day to grow strong and healthy. Here are some ideas for staying active, come rain or shine:

Families at Covington Elementary School enjoy an active family night event.
An active family night event at Covington Elementary School


  • Turn on music and have a dance party!
  • Take your walk inside. Add a few laps around the store or mall before shopping, or try a walking video. Walk at Home with Leslie Sansone is a favorite of participants in our Eating Smart, Being Active classes for adults!
  • Turn house work into a workout. Listen to music to keep yourself moving.
  • If you enjoy exercise videos, check out the selection of exercise videos at your local library. They will likely have enough variety to keep you from getting bored!
  • Use canned goods as hand weights for a bit of strength training while your dinner cooks or during commercial breaks while watching TV.
  • If you live with children, play active games like Duck, Duck, Goose, Simon Says, Musical Chairs, or Follow the Leader.
Participants in an Eating Smart, Being Active class prepare to flex their muscles.
Participants in an Eating Smart, Being Active class prepare to flex their muscles.


  • Dress in layers for cold-weather activity. This allows you to be comfortable when you first leave the house and once you’ve warmed up a bit.
  • In fall and winter, less daylight means less visibility. Dress in bright colors, wear reflectors, or carry a flashlight so that you can be easily seen by drivers.
  • Gear up for some fun seasonal activity walks with your family, such as leaf or puddle jumping!  Walking is also a great way to see fall colors and houses decorated for Halloween or other holidays.

Produce of the Season: Pumpkin

Fall is the perfect season to sample some Washington-grown fruits and vegetables, especially pumpkins! Just 1/2 cup of cooked pumpkin provides 122% of our daily recommended value of Vitamin A. Pumpkin is also a good source of Vitamin C. With nutrient content like that and a delicious and versatile flavor, what’s not to love?

At the store or farmers market, look for fresh pumpkins that are bright orange and feel heavy for their size. They should feel firm and not have any soft spots, bruises, or other signs of decay. Keep fresh pumpkins in a cool, dark place until you are ready to use them. Look for canned pumpkin with no added sugars or sodium. You can use canned pumpkin in any recipe that uses cooked pumpkin. Freeze any unused canned pumpkin for later use.

Most of us know the taste of pumpkin pie, but pumpkin can also be used in a wide variety of recipes both sweet and savory. Try these two, or let us know your favorite way to cook pumpkin on our facebook page!

Featured Recipes:

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Pumpkin Dip

Pumpkin Dip

Fall News from Food $ense

With the start of the new school year, Food $ense educators are out in force visiting classrooms in the Auburn, Highline, and Kent School Districts. Food $ense classes are now taking place in six elementary schools: Daniel, Hazel Valley, Kent, Madrona, Meadow Ridge, and Seahurst. Southern Heights Elementary also put on another great Jog-a-thon this fall with support from Food $ense. We were happy to be a part of Taste Washington Day at Seahurst Elementary, which featured a lunch menu with several Washington-grown foods prepared by the awesome nutrition services staff. See below for some great pictures. Our educators love working with all the wonderful students and staff at these schools!

Adult Food $ense education is also in full swing. Eating Smart, Being Active classes are currently being held for the Midway Elementary school community and Renton Housing Authority residents. We have also been busy working with a number of new Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program partners. Stay tuned for more news on all the fun we’re having there!

Last but not least, thank YOU for being a friend of Food $ense! You may have noticed our email newsletter is slightly different this time. We are moving to a quarterly format to offer you more of the easy, healthy tips and recipes you love. We will also have limited print copies of the newsletters available. If you are interested in signing up for the email newsletter or receiving print copies, please contact:

Anna Kitchin, Extension Coordinator at or (206) 263-1907.

Nutrition services staff at Seahurst Elementary was excited to unveil their Washington-grown menu for Taste Washington Day!
Nutrition services staff at Seahurst Elementary was excited to unveil their Washington-grown menu for Taste Washington Day!
Taste WA Day (10)
Students lined up to grab tasty fruits and vegetables from the salad bar.
Taste WA Day (8)
More salad bar fans at Seahurst.
Taste WA Day (9)
Serving up healthy choices.

Recipe Round-Up: Sweet Summer Treats

Try out some healthier sweet treats this summer for better health all year! When the temperature rises and you hear the familiar tones of the ice cream truck’s tune, it’s hard to resist the temptation to cool down with a tasty frozen treat.

While delicious, ice cream and many of our favorite cold treats like popsicles, milkshakes, and sno-cones are sometimes foods. Sometimes foods have very few nutritional benefits and high amounts of added sugar, salt, or fat. Sometimes foods are good for special occasions and events, but not so good for eating every day.

Anytime foods are much healthier—they tend to have lots of great nutrients that support our health. Anytime foods also have less added sugar and fat. One of our favorite anytime foods is fruit! Many varieties are in season during the summer. Fruit is an anytime food because it has fiber, many important vitamins and minerals, and water to keep us healthy. The sugars that create the delicious sweet taste of fruit are naturally occurring, instead of added during processing.

So when you’re craving something sweet to beat the heat, try one of these great healthier options. Added bonus: all of these recipes are kid-tested!

Tropical Smoothie Check out the table to find a good pairing for your favorite seasonal fruit.

One-ingredient Banana Ice Cream / Un Ingrediente Helado de Banana

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Popsicles galore:

Frozen Fruit Cups

Strawberry-Orange Ice Pops / Paletas Heladas de Fresa y Naranja

Kiwi-sicles  Try these with whole strawberries, banana slices, or pitted cherries!

Frozen Fruit-Salad Pops

For more great recipe ideas, check out Grow Happy Kids.

Frozen Fruit Cups
Frozen Fruit Cups

Tropical Smoothies
Tropical Smoothies

Sunshine and Summer School

“This is waaaaaaay better than I thought it would be.” –Middle school student after tasting the recipe they prepared during a Food $ense summer school activity.

This summer, Food $ense is partnering with the Highline School District to provide nutrition education for summer school students. F$ educators are working with third graders at Hazel Valley and Madrona Elementary Schools, as well as students at Sylvester, Chinook, and Pacific Middle Schools.

Students receive daily lessons from a research-based curriculum, play nutrition-themed games, and are encouraged to be physically active. The most exciting part of the lesson for many students is preparing delicious recipes like Homemade Hummus, Fruit and Veggie Faces, Apple Cheese Bagels, Green Smoothies, Fried Rice, and Crunch Veggie Wraps. This keeps the learning fun and engaging on warm days.

Many students have already expressed how much they enjoyed the chance to practice cooking skills and learn more about preparing food at home. One comment from a student made the nutrition educator’s day. The student said “I could make this at home and add different veggies that I like.” Thank you to the students and staff at Chinook, Hazel Valley, Madrona, Pacific, and Sylvester for making our summer school efforts possible!

For more information, please contact Jen Hey.

Fun and Food Access at the Renton Farmers Market

Summer is the perfect time for visiting a Farmers Market.  Especially when you are lucky enough to live near a great Farmers Market, like the Renton Farmers Market.  For the first time this season, Renton Farmers Market is accepting SNAP benefits and allowing shoppers to make purchases using EBT in addition to WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers.  Thanks to a lot of hard work from market manager Carrie Olson and her team, accepting SNAP at the Renton Farmers Market allows everyone in our community to have access to fresh, healthy food!

Renton Farmers Market is the first city-run market in the state to accept SNAP, demonstrating remarkable support for low-income members of the Renton community.  “I’ve noticed a lot of happy surprise from customers…many customers are excited to shop at the market now, because they were unable to before if they only had SNAP,” notes Oscar Bernal, Farmers Market Assistant for the SNAP Program.  Through our partnership with the Renton Farmers Market, F$ is also dedicated to supporting new SNAP shoppers at the market.

A fun activity at the Food $ense info table on Kids Day. A mystery seasonal fruit or vegetable was placed in each box and kids were asked to identify it using only their sense of touch. Then they got to try a sample!

Each week F$ staff hosts an information table for shoppers using SNAP, WIC, and SFMVP benefits with tons of great recipes and tips for getting the most for your money at the market.  The recipes feature many of the delicious fruits and vegetables grown here in Washington.  Want to know what to look for when you’re buying zucchini?  F$ also offers information on selecting and storing fruits and vegetables for best quality.

F$ Educators Erin and Anna demonstrate a Strawberry Spinach Salad recipe at the market in June.
F$ Educators Erin and Anna demonstrate a Strawberry Spinach Salad recipe at the market in June.

In addition to the information table, F$ is also providing recipe demonstrations to promote using Farmers Market purchases to make budget friendly recipes. F$ chooses seasonal produce from the market to prepare a SNAP approved recipe and pass out samples.  While preparing the recipe, F$ educators promote using SNAP, WIC, and SFMVP benefits at the market. Additional nutrition information, cooking tips, and recipe variations and ideas are also included in the presentation. The audience always has great questions and suggestions to offer.

Last but not least, F$ also offers market tours full of tips on saving money at the market. Starting at the WIC voucher table and the market manager booth where SNAP benefits are administered, we invite shoppers to walk around the market and share ideas for shopping on a budget.  We love to see our learners engaging with the sights, sounds and flavors of the market. Thank you to the Renton Farmers Market for creating such a welcoming and fun environment for everyone!


For more information, please contact Anna Kitchin.

Budget-Friendly Eating Through the Seasons

Summer is a great time to live in Washington. It’s also a great time to eat fresh fruits and vegetables grown here in our state! You may have heard about “seasonal eating” before, but what does it mean? Eating fruits and vegetables “in season” means that you are purchasing and eating foods around the same time that they are being harvested from farms in our region. Seasonal eating has many benefits. One of the most important is that buying fruits and vegetables in season is often much more affordable.

When you buy a fresh peach in December, that peach has most likely made a long trip from where it was grown to your local grocery store. A higher price is usually charged for that peach, because you are not only paying for the peach itself, but also for the journey the peach has made from the farm where it was picked. That peach might travel all the way from Central or South America, where it is actually warm enough in December to grow peaches. That’s a long trip, with many costs along the way! Those costs are then rolled into the price you pay at the grocery store. When you buy a peach in August, it’s possible to get one grown on a farm here in the Pacific Northwest. With a shorter journey from farm to market to your home, the peach will likely cost you less in August than in December.

Fruits and vegetables in season from Washington farms show up in your local grocery store only a day or two after harvesting. If you shop at a farmers market, the produce you buy has often been picked that very same day. In addition to lower prices, in season fruits and vegetables are at peak freshness, flavor, and nutrition. Your SNAP benefits can now be used at many farmers markets in our area. Several farmers markets are also participating in the Fresh Bucks program, which matches the first $10 of SNAP/EBT benefits. For every $2 you spend, get $2 more to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables.  Currently there are 21 locations that will double your EBT money with Fresh Bucks. Find out more on

Better taste, better nutrition, and a better price…what’s not to love about seasonal eating?  Check out the table below to learn when your favorite fruits and vegetables are in season!

Table showing when common fruits and vegetables are in season in Washington.

Seahurst Elementary and Midway Elementary Host Campaigns

Food $ense offered healthy eating campaigns at two of our partner schools in May.  Seahurst Elementary School partnered with F$ to highlight the importance of a healthy breakfast.  As part of the campaign, F$ visited each classroom with a nutrition message and provided support materials to teachers and staff.  Some classrooms even created murals to promote eating breakfast every day.  Every student at Seahurst also received a jump rope from F$, to tie in with the overarching message of the campaign: “Skip Rope, Not Breakfast.”  Students learned that breakfast is not only an important part of a healthy diet, but also helps them to do their best in school.

Food $ense also partnered with Midway Elementary School for a Fruit and Vegetable Campaign.  Much like the Breakfast Campaign, each classroom received a visit from a F$ educator and supporting materials.  Several classes also created murals to promote eating more fruits and veggies.  One class even tracked the colors of fruits and vegetables they ate during the month-long campaign.  Great job and many thanks to Seahurst and Midway for participating in these excellent campaigns!

Partner Profile: Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank

Early in June, Food $ense visited Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank in North Bend in partnership with the Department of Social and Health Services Mobile CSO unit. The Mobile CSO gives residents in more rural areas of the state access to services that would otherwise require a trip to the nearest city. The Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank also provides a much needed service to the upper Snoqualmie Valley. Executive Director Heidi Dukich says one of the most important roles of the food bank is to help people feel connected to their community—in as many ways as they can.

Like many food banks across the county, Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank offers more than just food. In the office next door, Heidi and volunteers help clients access other resources. In addition to regular visits from the Mobile CSO unit, the food bank is also partnering with Washington Connection to provide clients with a way to sign up for programs like SNAP and WIC without having to ride a bus to Bellevue all day. Sometimes it’s not just the resources that become an important connection for food bank clients. Heidi says a compassionate listener can be just as important for many people as an application for benefits. “We try to connect people to their community. You’re part of this and we’re here to help each other out…if you hit a roadblock, we can help navigate around it,” she says. It’s important to make the food bank and other community resources as user-friendly and approachable as possible, for clients already feeling isolated and disconnected.

That philosophy is reflected in the food distribution side of the food bank as well. Volunteers recently created a “Meal in a Bag” for each client by pre-packing all of the ingredients needed to make a meal into one bag. Heidi notes that it’s a great way to give people new ideas for preparing something that they might get often at the food bank, and it takes the work out of figuring out what’s for dinner. The food bank also provides recipes and other meal ideas when they can, and Food $ense is looking forward to visiting again in the future!

Food $ense educator Anna with samples of Confetti Salad and Barley, Bean, and Corn Salad at the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank.
Food $ense educator Anna with samples of Confetti Salad and Barley, Bean, and Corn Salad at the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank.

Check out Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank’s website here.