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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Red Apple Spinach Salad

Setting Action Plans

Well, you made it through 2011, and whether it was a good year or a bad year, you now have a fresh start to a brand new year. Some of you have probably made a New Year's Resolution, in hopes to starting off 2012 in the right direction. A resolution is really just a fancy word for a goal. And setting goals are important in life.

I'm currently taking leadership training for the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program that was developed at Stanford University. (Unfortunately, the training is not in beautiful California, but rather in beautiful Rock Falls, Illinois...insert sarcasm). The new year is the perfect time for this training because if focuses on behavior change to manage symptoms of chronic disease, and what better time to motivate than the first of the year?

I'm learning that one of the most important self-management skills is goal setting. (You don't have to have a chronic disease, such as diabetes or osteoarthritis, to set goals.) But sometimes goals are so big that they can be overwhelming. Therefore, the goal should be broken down to more "doable" tasks. That's where we need to develop an action plan, which includes specific steps that will help achieve the goal.

Let's say your goal is to eat healthier. But that is a big and broad goal that can easily get lost or forgotten down the road. By making a weekly action plan, however, you are better able to achieve that goal. In your action plan you should answer "what," "when," "how much," and "how often." Let's try it for our goal of eating healthier: For my first week...   

  • What? I will eat more fruits and vegetables
  • When? With lunch and dinner
  • How much? 1 serving of fruit and 1 serving of vegetables
  • How often? 5 days a week

This action plan clearly does not meet the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetable according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. But if you rarely eat fruits and vegetables now is it realistic to think you can just jump right into eating the recommended amount? Make your action plan achievable, and then build on it.

And if you're looking to get in more vegetables each day, try this spin on spinach!


Red Apple Spinach Salad

1 pound fresh baby spinach

1 unpeeled red apple, cored and sliced thin

3 slices turkey bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

¼ cup frozen unsweetened orange juice concentrate, thawed

¼ cup light mayonnaise

Mix orange juice and mayonnaise in a small bowl. In a large bowl, toss apple and spinach together. Pour orange dressing over salad and top with crumbled bacon.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutritional Analysis per serving: 98 Calories, 6 grams total fat, 7 milligrams cholesterol, 212 milligrams sodium, 10 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams dietary fiber, 3 grams protein

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