Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Our Hanukkah Celebration
Music, Symbolic Foods and Art

Traditional Hanukkah Foods

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish festival celebrated with various traditional foods. While not all these foods have explicit symbolic meanings, some are tied to the holiday's themes of oil, victory, and the miracle of the Temple. Here are traditional Hanukkah foods and their connections:

1. Potato Latkes

These fried potato pancakes are the best-known Hanukkah food. The oil used to fry them commemorates the oil in the temple lamps. Made of shredded potatoes and onions, like hash browns, they are traditionally topped with applesauce and served as a side dish.

2. Kugel

Kugel is a sweet casserole originating in Central Europe, made using egg noodles baked with sugar, eggs, and sour cream. Raisins and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg can be added. It’s a rich dessert that tops many people’s favorite Hanukkah foods and provides the flavor of many beloved holiday memories.

3. Brisket

A slow-cooked beef dish that is a hearty and flavorful centerpiece for Hanukkah meals.

4. Rugelach

Rolled pastries with sweet ingredients like dried fruit, nuts, or chocolate represent the holiday's sweetness.

5. Sufganiyot

Jelly-filled donuts topped with powdered sugar. They are fried and commemorate the importance of oil in the Hanukkah celebration. The filling can be flavored in several ways; though fruit jelly is standard, sweet custard can be substituted if preferred.

6. Matzo Ball Soup

A traditional Jewish soup featuring matzo balls, symbolizing comfort and sustenance.

7. Applesauce

Often served as an accompaniment to latkes, providing a sweet contrast to the savory pancakes.

8. Gelt (Chocolate Coins)

In the dreidel game, the gelt symbolizes the coins distributed to children during Hanukkah.

In 17 century Europe, it became customary for parents to donate small sums of money to their children to their teachers. The students learned how to give charity in light of commemorating the events of Hanukkah. In the 20th century, an American confectionary manufacturer came up with the idea of making Hanukkah “Gelt” from chocolate. They made the first chocolate-wrapped coins specifically for Hanukkah. The Hanukkah gelt symbolizes the tradition of giving charity to commemorate the Miracle of Light. 

9. Cheese Platter

Judith, a Jewish heroine associated with Hanukkah, fed cheese to an Assyrian general, making him thirsty for wine, which she gave him until he fell asleep.

Our Favorite Hanukkah Songs

Telly from Sesame Street shows 
us how to play the Dreidel Game.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Edible Hanukkah Menorah

The Hanukkiah, also known as the Hanukkah “menorah,” is a candelabra designated specifically for the Hanukkah candles. The Hanukkah lamp contains room for nine candles — one for each night, plus the shammash or helper candle.

Menorah is the Hebrew word for a lamp. Lighting the candles is Hanukkah’s most central ritual. One candle is added on each night of the eight-night holiday until it is ablaze with light on the eighth evening.

Hanukkah menorahs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The eight candles should be the same height and at the same level, but the shammash is often placed higher or set off to the side.

Fruit and Vegetable Menorah

A fun project and a healthy snack for all. 
I used the following ingredients (but you can use your favorite fruits and vegetables):
1/2 cucumber
1/2 yellow squash, diced
1/2 zucchini diced
4 red seedless grapes
1/2 cup watermelon, diced
1/4 cup raspberries
1/4 cup cantaloupe, cubed
1/4 cup blueberries
4 strawberries, chopped
9 golden raisins

December 6, National Gazpacho Day
Gazpacho with Feta Cheese and Tabouli Salad

Gazpacho with Feta Cheese and Tabouli Salad

Serves 8

2-1/2 cups peeled and diced (1/4 inch) hothouse cucumber 
2-1/2 cups diced red and green bell pepper 
2-1/2 cups diced ripe tomato 
1/2 cup diced red and white onion 
2 cups tomato juice, low sodium 
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar 
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
1 dash Tabasco sauce
4 Tbsp Feta Cheese
1/2 cup Tabouli Salad

1. Place all of the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the tomato juice, vinegar, oil, and Tabasco. Toss.
2. Transfer half of the mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse on and off until coarsely puree. 
3. Return puree mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate for 5 to 6 hours before serving.
4. Combine Feta cheese and Tabouli Salad.
5. Top Gazpacho with 1-1/2 Tablespoon of Feta Cheese and Tabouli Salad

Nutrition Information

Ensure accurate nutritional analysis for your recipes utilizing an extensive research database and over 25 years experience. A great service for the Recipe Blogger, Media, Cookbook Publishers, Writers, Chefs, and Recipe Websites. Your readers will benefit from the Nutrition information and a Registered Dietitian. Contact:; Sandra Frank, Ed.D, RDN, LN at

World Soil Day: The Miracle of Soil

Soil and water provide the foundation for food production, ecosystems, and human well-being. Recognizing their invaluable roles, we can proactively safeguard these resources for future generations.

The Miracle of Soil

1. Soil is the backbone of our food security. Farmers couldn’t provide us with feed, fiber, food, and fuel without healthy soils.

2. Just like a foundation for a home is critical, healthy soils act as a foundation for plants by supporting plant roots and keeping plants upright for growth.

3. Soils act as a pantry for plants, storing and cycling essential nutrients and minerals that plants need to grow.

4. Soils store water for plants. In fact, according to the USDA, “every 1% increase in organic matter results in as much as 25,000 gallons of available soil water per acre.” That’s a lot of water!

5. Soils maintain adequate plant aeration, providing oxygen for microbes, insects, and plant roots.

6. Soils are habitats for beneficial soil microbes; these organisms are nature’s hidden helpers. They form synergistic relationships with plants to protect them from stress and provide them with nutrients, among other tasks. The USDA states, “One teaspoon of healthy soil contains 100 million-to-1 billion individual bacteria alone.”

7. Soils are homes for many other organisms, like insects that lay and hatch eggs in the soil.

8. Soils filter surface water of dust, chemicals, and other contaminants. This is why underground water is one of the cleanest sources of water. In fact, according to Soils.Org, “through natural processes, such as soil absorption, chemical filtration, and nutrient cycle, the Catskill Watershed provides New York City with clean water for $1-to1.5 billion, much less than the $6-to-8 billion one-time costs of constructing a water filtration plant.”

9. Healthy soils help protect the plant from climate change. Columbia University’s Earth Institute says, “Soils remove about 25 percent of the world’s fossil fuel emissions yearly.

10. Healthy soils give farmers better crop yields and protect plants from stress.

11. Regarding human health, almost all of the antibiotics we take to help fight infection were obtained by soil microbes.

12. Healthy soils protect the land from erosion. 

13. Soil is a nonrenewable natural resource. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), forming a centimeter of soil can take hundreds to thousands of years. But that single centimeter of soil can be lost in a year due to erosion.

14. 11% of the total U.S. employment works in the agricultural and food sectors - that’s 2.16 million full- and part-time people working on our soils daily.

15. Soil comprises 45% minerals, 25% water, 5% organic matter and 25% air.

16. Soil acts as a holding facility for solid waste.

17. Soils help regulate the Earth’s temperature.

18. Healthy soils mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events.

19. Archeologists have determined that many sophisticated civilizations, such as the Mayans and the Harappans, fell because they mismanaged their soils.

20. Soils.Org says, “about 70% of the weight of a textbook or glossy paged magazine is soil.”

21. Putting clay soil on your face as a “mud mask” cleanses the skin’s pores.

22. the World Future Council states that “soils help control weeds, plant pests, and disease.”

23. The best china dishes are made from soil.

24. Soil is the foundation of our buildings, roads, houses, and schools. In fact, soil affects how buildings are made.

25. Soil holds Earth’s history, containing artifacts - from dinosaurs to ancient human civilizations - from our Earth’s past. There’s a lot of history stored in soils!

Monday, December 4, 2023

International Volunteer Day

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens

International Volunteer Day 

Today, we celebrate International Volunteer Day for millions of volunteers worldwide to recognize and support the spirit of volunteerism and help create a better future for all – people and the planet.

This year, the campaign recognized the power of collective action: if everyone did. If everyone volunteered, the world would be a better place. Imagine more than eight billion of us volunteering. Limitless possibilities for sustainable development – food and education for everyone, a clean environment and good health, inclusive and peaceful societies, and more.

UN is highlighting the below critical messages about the power of volunteerism in line with the campaign theme:
  • Volunteerism is universal and strengthens civic engagement, social inclusion, solidarity, and ownership.

  • A top priority for the United Nations is avoiding climate disasters and reducing global warming. Volunteering makes these goals for tomorrow’s generations more likely to be achieved.

  • Volunteers promote people’s engagement and civic participation, which is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
People across the world, UN Agencies and their partners, Member States, and governments across the world have begun IVD celebrations. They are recognizing the contributions and efforts of volunteers and encouraging the spirit of volunteerism through events, activities, conferences, discussions, and volunteer awards.

updated 12/04/2023

Sunday, December 3, 2023

December 3, International Day of
Persons with Disabilities

The International Day for Persons with Disabilities 

From United Nations Enable
"Persons with disabilities make up an estimated 15 percent of the world’s population. Almost one-fifth of the estimated global total of persons living with disabilities, or between 110-190 million, encounter significant difficulties. Furthermore, a quarter of the global population is directly affected by disability, as caregivers or family members. 

U N I T E D   N A T I O N S
2023 International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD)

Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been observed annually on 3 December worldwide. 

On December 3 this year, during the annual celebration of people with disabilities, the 2023 theme is "United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities."

The UN calls on domestic and international public health officials, political representatives, advocates, supporters, and every citizen in every community to learn from the experiences of people living with disabilities and push for more meaningful investments into the socioeconomic building blocks that will reduce the barriers faced by people with disabilities in every community on earth.

Assistive technology to facilitate
independent eating and drinking

The first video describes the feeding challenges of persons with disabilities and the advances in assistive technology. It’s not an endorsement of the Mealtime Partner Dining System, but the video shows good examples of challenging eating/feeding situations. 

Quadriplegic Eating Utensils


Saturday, December 2, 2023

December 4, National Cookie Day
Healthy Cookie Recipes and Tips

The Holiday reminds me of the wonderful aroma of fresh-baked cookies. My family owned a bakery in New York. This is my son Jake peering through the glass, wondering what cookie he wants.

Try healthy homemade cookies from EatingWell, Healthy Cookie Recipes, and Tips.
(You still need to watch how many cookies you eat.)


My Favorites:
Meringues at 8 Calories per cookie.

For young and older - here is Cookie Monster,
sharing how he feels about cookies.

Sesame Street: 
Cookie Monster Sings C is for Cookie

Other Food Events This Week:
12/1 to 12/7. Cookie Cutter Week
12/5 to 12/11.  Recipe Greetings for the Holidays Week


World Pear Day

Pears are nutrient-dense and an excellent source of fiber. One medium pear provides 4 grams of fiber and can help you feel satisfied longer between meals and snacks. 

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the average American adult should consume approximately 2 cups of fruit per day. One medium-sized pear is about one cup, so you’re halfway there with just one pear! Pear Bureau Northwest

Recipe: Ginger Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes and Pears
A perfect way to celebrate the bounty of fall and winter produce. @USAPears Recipe development and photography by Alexandra Aldeborgh (@daisybeet).

The Many Ways to Enjoy Pears
  1. Grilled Cheese and Pear. Add thinly sliced pears to a grilled cheese sandwich or your favorite panini.
  2. Chutney & Salsa. Pears can be a perfect partner for savory dishes. Create a refreshing salsa with diced pears, red onion, jalapeƱo, cilantro, and lime juice. Serve with grilled chicken or fish.
  3. Pear Salads. Combine sliced pears with mixed greens, candied nuts, and crumbled feta or blue cheese. Drizzle with a light vinaigrette.
  4. Bake pears with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a touch of honey.
  5. Preserve. Try your hand at canning pears. They’ll be waiting for you in your pantry anytime!
  6. Pears Instead of Apples. For a change in flavor, use pears in any way you would usually use apples.
  7. The Perfect Snack. Have a delicious fresh pear as a sweet, juicy snack.
  8. Sweet Soup. Ever tried pears in soup? Magnifique!
  9. Pear Cobbler. Substitute pears for apples in your favorite low-fat cobbler recipe.
  10. Poach Your Pears. Ever tried it? They’re delicious! Poach pears in red wine or sweet syrup with spices like cinnamon and cloves for an elegant dessert. Serve poached pears with a drizzle of chocolate sauce or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  11. Grill pear halves for a caramelized flavor. Drizzle with balsamic reduction or honey for added richness. Serve grilled pears with a sprinkle of goat cheese for a delightful appetizer.
  12. Pear Smoothie. Blend ripe pears into a smoothie with yogurt, spinach, and honey for a nutritious breakfast or snack.
  13. Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza. Top pizza dough with sliced pears, Gorgonzola cheese, and a balsamic glaze for a unique and tasty pizza.
  14. Pear and Ginger Tea. Infuse your favorite tea with slices of fresh pear and a hint of ginger for a soothing beverage.
  15. Pear and Walnut Oatmeal. Add diced pears and chopped walnuts to your morning oatmeal for a hearty and flavorful breakfast.

1. Pear Snacking, USA Pears


Zucchini Fritters, on the Lighter Side

Zucchini Fritters are a great way to incorporate ​vegetables into your diet while enjoying a satisfying snack or side dish. Here's a general outline of the recipe to help you get started:

2 medium zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Start by grating the zucchini using a box grater. Place the grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to draw out excess moisture.
  2. After 10 minutes, squeeze the zucchini to remove as much moisture as possible. You can use a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth for this.
  3. Transfer the squeezed zucchini to a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, Parmesan cheese, chopped green onions, and lightly beaten egg. Mix well until all the ingredients are combined.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture into the skillet, flattening them slightly with the back of the spoon to form fritters. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy.
  6. Once cooked, transfer the fritters to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
  7. Serve the fritters warm as a side dish or a snack.

Remember that providing nutrition analysis is an approximate value, and it may vary based on the specific ingredients used and the cooking method. Nonetheless, zucchini fritters are generally considered a healthier alternative to deep-fried snacks or sides and can be a nutritious addition to your meal. 

Friday, December 1, 2023

National Special Education Day and Meeting Children's Nutritional Needs

Special Education Day marks the anniversary of our nation’s first federal special education law which was signed by President Gerald Ford on December 2, 1975. This law is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

IDEA made education available to all American children and this day honors the progress that has been made in special education

National Special Education Day was first celebrated in 2005 which was the 30th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

In recent years, we have seen increasing emphasis on the importance of ensuring children with disabilities have the same opportunities as other children to receive an education and education-related benefits, such as school meals.

My son Jake, has cerebral palsy and requires someone to feed him. He was brought into the cafeteria with his aid and they sat alone. He asked if he could eat in the classroom because he was embarrassed the children would make fun of him. The school said no. Jake started to refuse to eat - he said he wasn't hungry. Sometimes he would come home with food all over his clothes and face. There is still time to learn how to meet nutritional needs for Special Needs Children.

Florida State Receiver Travis Rudolph Eats
Lunch With An Autistic Boy Sitting By Himself

Autistic kindergartner denied school lunch


Thursday, November 30, 2023

November 30, Joy of Cooking Anniversary

The Joy of Cooking is one of the United States' most popular cookbook. It is a collection of over 4500 recipes and provides cooking and kitchen lessons and references.

In 1931, Irma S. Rombauer, a homemaker, recent widow, and single mom, privately published the “Joy of Cooking.” Since then, the book has undergone numerous revisions and sold over 18 million copies. The Joy of Cooking is a staple in many homes and is commonly found in commercial kitchens. 

Joy of Cooking: Fun Facts

Changes in the Joy of Cooking
through the Years


1. Learn more about the history of the American kitchen and cuisine through the Joy of Cooking
2. Wikipedia, The Joy of Cooking 
3. Joy of Cooking History

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Purple Basil

It’s a vibrant purple color with larger-than-normal leaves. It’s not as sweet as other basil varieties, and it has a strong clove flavor. Not recommended in cooking as it turns a black color when heated. Perfect for use in salads, pesto, or any of your other favorite ways to use fresh basil.

There are a few varieties of purple basil, but all are cultivars of the same basil plant, which is a true annual. Purple basil grows from seed and dies again all in one season, and does not return year after year. They may, however, self-seed if the flowers are left on until the seeds grow to maturity and fall from the plant. A healthy patch of self-seeding basil may return year after year almost as though it were the same plant.

Grow this basil along with tomato plants, as it encourages growth and repels pests of the tomato. Grow it in containers on the deck or near outdoor seating areas to help keep mosquitoes and stinging insects at bay. 

Store leaves, fresh or dried, for use during the time your plants no longer grow. Freeze them whole or preserve in layers of sea salt. You may also chop basil and combine with other herbs and oil to freeze in ice cube trays and save in freezer bags once frozen. This attractive purple color stands out in many dishes.

Purple Basil and Tomatoes with Mozzarella Cheese

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

National Peanut Butter Lovers Month

The American Peanut Council proclaims peanut butter one of America’s favorite foods. Peanut butter is a good source of protein, niacin, and folate. It is enjoyed by many of all ages.

Below are a few ways to enjoy peanut butter - be creative and enjoy.

The National Peanut Board has a fun website filled with recipes, classroom activities and fun facts. Did you know...

*It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.

*There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.

*By law, any product labeled "peanut butter" in the United States must be at least 90 percent peanuts.

*Peanut butter has been banned in some schools due to peanut butter allergies. Make sure to read the ingredient label.

A Journey through the Years
with Peanut Butter

Peter Pan Peanut Butter, 1957

1960's Skippy Peanut Butter

Kraft Peanut Butter, 1987

Giving Tuesday
Gifts that Make a Difference

You can purchase gifts to support causes, educate and foster awareness, and show you care about a loved one's health. These gifts make a difference in a person's life. The gifts listed below are just samples of what is available. Please check the websites to view the entire catalog.

Donate to a Food Bank

A Guide to Practical and/or Healthy Food Staples to your Local Food Bank.

Breakfast Foods to Donate
Whole Grain Cereal
Rolled Oats
Pancake Mix
Baby Cereal

Lunch and Dinner Foods to Donate
Tuna Fish
Canned Chicken
Peanut Butter
No-Nut Butter
Whole grain pasta
Brown Rice
Canned Beans
Dry Beans
Canned Vegetables (low sodium/no salt)
Canned Fruit (light syrup/in own juices)
Pasta Sauce
Dry Goods – Sugar, Flour, Salt, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Spices
Baby Food

Snack Foods to Donate
Dry Fruit
Granola Bars
Whole Grain Crackers
Trail Mix

Fresh Foods (Not All Food Banks Offer)
Fresh Vegetables
Fresh Fruit
Frozen Vegetables

What not to donate to a food bank

The number one rule to remember is this: if your donation is perishable, i.e., it’s something with a limited shelf life if not refrigerated, food banks won’t accept it. But there are other categories of food that you can’t donate.

Items needing refrigeration:
Food like produce, dairy, and meat can spoil quickly, and your local food bank may require the refrigerator or freezer space needed to keep these items fresh. 
Many food banks work directly with farmers, retailers, restaurants, and other companies to source these perishable foods for donation. 

Expired food: When considering what to donate, think about what you’d be comfortable serving your family. Chances are, you don’t eat food past its “use-by” or “sell-by” date, so avoid donating anything past those dates to food banks as it could be unsafe to eat.

Leftovers: While sharing the bountiful food from big meals like Thanksgiving may be tempting, keeping leftovers for the family is best. To ensure the people they serve are safe, food banks can’t accept leftovers or anything made in personal kitchens because they aren’t individually sealed. The food bank can’t verify the ingredients or preparation process.

Food with packaging concerns: This includes food with damaged packaging, such as dented or bloated cans, packaging that is already open, or even items in glass containers, which can shatter and cause food safety concerns for any other food they’re stored near. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn't consider buying it new, don't donate it.

Baked goods: Like leftovers, food banks can’t confirm how your baked goods were made or their ingredients, so they can’t be donated. However, food banks often have relationships with local restaurants or bakeries that donate extra food appropriately labeled and handled to nearby pantries, soup kitchens, or shelters.

Just a note: You can ‘clean out your cabinets’ and donate, and some food banks can use the food after it is expired, but think of the Golden Rule. Would you want someone to give YOU their expired food? It’s better than wasting it, but be gracious and loving.

Finding a Charity, You Can Trust
Charity Navigator
and more...

Gifts to Support a Cause

The Humane Society is the nation's largest animal protection organization. They work to reduce suffering and improve the lives of all animals by advocating for better laws, investigating animal cruelty, encouraging corporations to adopt animal-friendly policies, conducting disaster relief and animal rescue, and providing direct care for thousands of animals at our sanctuaries, emergency shelters, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and mobile veterinary clinics.

Gifts to Educate and Foster Awareness
Books by Dietitians
 Dietitians-Online Books by RDNs 

National Nutrition Month®  at the
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
 Check out the National Nutrition Month® catalog for exciting products featuring the Eat Right Campaign.
 Perfect for colleagues and clients alike!

Dietitian Blog List