The Hunger Busters: Happy January!

Welcome to the Hunger Busters Blog where you will find all the latest news in nutrition brought to you by the Nutrition Department at the Southeast Texas Food Bank!

We are excited about what 2016 holds for us at the Food Bank and we hope you will join us this year in striving to live healthier and more fulfilling lives through better nutrition.

First, we would like to introduce ourselves so you know WHO we are and WHY this is so important to us…

Rachel Hellums is the Nutrition Department Coordinator and Cooking Demonstrator (try saying THAT five times fast) who likes playing with knives and reading Williams-Sonoma catalogs. She plans on finishing her degree in Dietetics and Nutrition and becoming a dietician that works specifically with patients who have Irritable Bowel Disease. In her spare time she writes, cooks, does yoga, and reads cookbooks. She dreams of being a pastry chef and bakery owner one day.

Fernando Mejia is the Nutrition Educator and recently graduated from Lamar University with a degree in Dietetics and Nutrition. He chose this major as a result of his passionate love affair with food. He loves to eat it, smell it, cook it, watch it, and if he could, he’d hug it. In his spare time, he watches foreign films(the weirder the better) he says “much like food, film is a way into people’s culture.” He plans on becoming a clinical dietician one day.

The goal of this blog is to expose you to healthy, budget-friendly recipes, let you know about what produce is in season, give weight-loss tips, and focus on national nutrition spotlights every month. We have a huge passion for food, but we have an even BIGGER passion for punching hunger in the face! Make sure you subscribe to be in the know on how YOU can help, too.

SO! Let’s get started…


January is the middle month of the winter season, and the tastiest produce you’ll find from December-February are grapefruits, mushrooms, leeks, onions, oranges, pears, potatoes (including sweet), turnips, parsnips, kale, pomegranates, pineapple (ironic, right?!?), winter and spaghetti squash.

When produce is “in season,” that means it’s the best-tasting and (usually) the cheapest you’ll find it all year. If you want to start off the year right, start with adding more fresh produce to your daily intake of calories and it will certainly be beneficial to your body. The new 2015-2020 National Dietary Guidelines say to make half your plate fruits and veggies-the more colorful, the better!

This month’s recipe is from the USDA’s Harvest Cookbook. It uses various kinds of produce with different options that fit your budget. Whether you want fresh produce, frozen, or canned, you can make this recipe all your own. This hearty stew is great for dinner and even better the next day. It uses different ingredients like sweet potatoes and quick cooking oats.

Three Sisters Stew

Serving Size 1 ¼ cups (298g)

Calories 298 Total fat 6g Saturated fat 2.5g

Cholesterol 26mg Sodium 321mg Carbohydrate 48g

Dietary Fiber 9g Sugars 7g Protein 17g

Vitamin A 22% DV Vitamin C 54% DV Calcium 7% DV

Iron 22% DV

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Serves 6


  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups red potatoes, cubed (or 1½ cans, about 24 ounces,

low-sodium sliced potatoes, drained)

  • 2 tomatoes, diced (or 1 can, about 15 ounces, low-sodium

diced tomatoes, drained)

  • 1 can (15 ounces) low-sodium tomato sauce
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels (or ¼ can, about 4 ounces,

low-sodium whole kernel corn, drained)

  • ½ cup yellow squash, diced (or ¼ can, about 4 ounces,

low-sodium sweet potatoes, drained and diced)

  • ½ cup green squash, diced (or ¼ can, about 4 ounces,

low-sodium carrots, drained)

  • ½ can (about 8 ounces) low-sodium kidney beans, drained
  • ½ can (about 8 ounces) low-sodium vegetarian beans
  • ¼ cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. In a small skillet, brown ground beef and onions over medium

to high heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain fat.

  1. In a large pot, combine cooked ground beef, water, and red


  1. Bring the pot to a boil and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Add all the other ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Tip for cooking ground beef: The recommended safe minimum

internal temperature for ground beef is 160 degrees F, as

measured with a food thermometer.

Nutrition Note: You can even add mushrooms, kale, turnips, parsnips, etc. to really make this soup colorful!

With it being January, I know a lot of people are listing their resolutions (and everyone else reading this is eye-rolling). The most popular resolution, of course, is to lose weight. Since we’re at the beginning of the year, hopefully with a clearer head than what we had during the holidays, I wanted to bring up something that not only affects your weight, but your whole psyche:


It happens. Unfortunately, we can’t actually stop the stress from coming on, it’s all about how we handle it.

McKel Hill, RD LDN*, says this about stress and its impact on our bodies:

“Stress impacts our health and bodies in a multitude of ways including hormonal changes, nervous system reactions, changes in weight and sleep, poor digestion, cardiovascular disease, lowered immunity, reproductive system challenges, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid disorders, and depression.”

So how should we combat its onset?

I could point a variety of sources that say the exact same things:

  • Drink more water.
  • Drink a cup of warm water with lemon for bloating when you wake up (add a pinch of cayenne if you’re brave).
  • Meditation.
  • A form of exercise: hiking, biking, yoga, weight lifting, running, jogging, taking a walk…
  • Portion control (CONTROL, NOT ELIMINATION-you NEED to eat!)
  • Counting calorie using the SuperTracker on

May we encourage you to ask your doctor about any supplements or diets before trying them. It is extremely important your doctor is in the know about what your body is doing.

It may sound pretty cliché to you who are seriously trying to acquire a healthy weight, but I guarantee you there’s something to it if you’re hearing it from multiple reliable sources, especially your doctor!

This month, we are spotlighting National Drug & Alcohol Facts week, which is January 25th-January 31st.

Everyone knows illicit drugs are detrimental to your health, but not everyone heeds these warnings. There are so many tragic statistics that prove this over and over. Do you struggle with addiction or know someone who does? Check out this link to find out what different drugs are actually doing to your brain:

We are excited to see what 2016 has for us at the food bank this year and we invite you to come and join us in the fight to punch hunger in the face by volunteering! If you’re interested, you can call (409) 839-8777 and ask for Susan. Or come by during our business hours: Monday-Thursday 8:30am to 4pm, and Fridays 8:30am to 12pm.

Next month, we’ll have a little something sweet to celebrate Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month!

*McKel Hill is the author and CEO of her blog and dietary coaching company, Nutrition Stripped. You can find out more at

Did you know that a $10 donation can provide up to 30 meals for desperate people in your community? By making a donation, you are helping to ensure that hungry children in Southeast Texas are adequately nourished, that none of our senior citizens are forced to chose between medicine and food, and that every family facing a crisis can at least have the assurance of food on the table.

Your gift goes a long, long way!

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