WIC Food Tips - Minnesota Department of Health

WIC Food Tips

Main Course Tips
Bean Tips
Bread and Grain Tips
Fruit and Vegetable Tips
Snack Tips
Dessert Tips
Beverage Tips

Main Course Tips

When shopping for meats, look for "lean" cuts. Buy ground beef that is at least 85% lean.

  • Try substituting ground turkey, tofu or beans for meat in some recipes to cut back on saturated fat and extra calories.
  • Choose food you enjoy preparing and eating. Offer everyone in the family the same meal.
  • Half of your plate should be salad, vegetables or fruit. The other half of the plate is for meats, proteins and grains.

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Bean Tips

  • One pound (16 ounces) dry beans equals 2 cups of dry beans or 6 cups of cooked beans.
  • Avoid broken or mushy beans by boiling gently and stirring very little.
  • Lentils and split peas do not need to be soaked before cooking. They cook in less time, too!
  • Freeze cooked beans for up to 6 months. Cover with cooking liquid or water first to prevent freezer burn.

Cooking Dry Beans

1 Sort: Look through the beans and remove any damaged beans, small stones or dirt.

2 Soak: Soak the beans before cooking. Choose one of the following two ways to soak your beans:

  • Quick Soak: Add 10 cups hot water to 1 pound of dry beans. Heat to boiling and boil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 to 4 hours.
  • Overnight Soak: Add 10 cups cold water to 1 pound of dry beans. Allow to stand overnight.

3 Cook: After soaking, drain the soaking water and rinse beans. Add 6 cups of fresh water. Cover with the lid slightly tilted to let out steam. Cook slowly for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until tender.

Other Cooking Options

Crock Pot: Follow the sort and quick soak directions. Drain the soaking water. Place beans in crock pot and add 6 cups of fresh water. Cook on low heat for 10-12 hours, until tender.

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Bread and Grain Tips

  • Try substituting whole grain flour for up to 1/2 of the white flour called for in recipes.
  • Choose whole grain pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, noodles).
  • "Wheat" bread is not always made from whole wheat. Sometimes the brown color is from molasses or coloring. Read the label!
  • Use brown rice instead of white rice; instant brown rice cooks quickly.

Choosing Whole Grains:

Whole grains include the bran and germ portions of the grain kernel and are important sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Make half the grains you serve your family whole grains for the natural health benefits they offer.

Whole grains (choose more):

  • Brown rice
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole-wheat bread, tortillas or pasta
  • Whole grain barley
  • Whole grain breakfast cereal
  • Whole grain cornmeal
  • Wild rice

Refined grains (choose less):

  • Cornbread*
  • Couscous*
  • Enriched macaroni or spaghetti*
  • Flour tortillas*
  • Saltine crackers
  • White bread (refined)
  • White rice

*Most of these products are made from refined grains. Some can be made from whole grains. Look for "whole grain" or "whole wheat" as the first ingredient on the ingredient list.

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Fruit and Vegetable Tips

  • Shop at your local Farmers' Market for fresh fruits and vegetables. (Note: You cannot use your WIC Card to purchase items from the Farmers' Market.) If you have Farmers' Market Nutrition Program checks, visit Your local Farmers' Market for more information. For other Farmers' Market details, go to Minnesota Grown.
  • Fruits and vegetables are "super-foods". They play a major role in keeping your family healthy.
  • Include at least one fruit or vegetable at each meal.
  • When in the grocery store, shop for a rainbow - get reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues and purples.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables have similar nutrition to fresh or frozen. (Skip added sauces or sugar.)

Cooking vegetables

Cooking vegetables by steaming or microwaving keeps their vitamins from being boiled away. All fruits and vegetables should be washed before using.

Steaming Vegetables

1 Add 1/2 inch of water to a pan. Add sliced vegetables (if a steaming rack or insert is available, use it at this time).

2 Cover tightly and heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook covered 10-12 minutes or until tender-crisp.

Microwaving Vegetables

1 Place sliced vegetables and 1/4 cup water in a microwave-safe dish.

2 Cover with lid slightly tilted or use plastic wrap, leaving a small opening to vent. If using plastic wrap, be careful that it does not touch the food during microwaving.

3 Microwave on high 9-12 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until tender-crisp. Let stand covered 5 minutes. Drain.

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Snack Tips

  • Set a good example. Your child will want the snack you are eating.
  • Plan snacks - have them ready to eat when traveling or after school; this helps avoid purchasing unhealthy choices.
  • Think of sugary foods or salty chips as occasional "treats" not snacks.
  • Don't use food as a reward. Give hugs and attention instead.

Small tummies need snacks.

Think of snacks as "mini-meals", a chance to give your child nutritious foods that his body needs to grow strong and healthy. Offer snacks at regular times each day, at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours before the next meal. If you give a snack less than an hour before a meal, your child may not be hungry at mealtime.

Make snacks count! Choose snacks that are healthy. Snack favorites: fruits, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, bread, cereal, eggs and peanut butter.

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Dessert Tips

  • Humans are born enjoying sweet tastes.
  • Berries and fruit make great desserts that are naturally sweet!

hand printKids can help make many of the dessert recipes.
hand print Remember to look for the symbol that "Kids can help!".

Satisfying a sweet tooth

Desserts can be part of a healthy diet, but should be reserved as "sometimes" foods that are served in small portions after a nutritious meal.

Banning dessert may only make sweets more attractive to your child.

Avoid using sweets as a reward or withholding them as a punishment. Connecting food to emotions, instead of hunger, can make it hard for your child to learn healthy eating habits.

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Beverage Tips

  • Best beverage practice serve milk with meals and water in between meals.
  • Limit juice to 4-6 ounces a day for children 1 to 6 years old.
  • Juice or other sugary beverages do not belong in bottles.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator. Cold water tastes the best!

Choose the right beverage for good health.

Thirsty? Water will satisfy thirst the best. Teach your children to drink water when they are thirsty. Soda pop or other sugary beverages will not satisfy thirst and can cause dental cavities and high weight gain.

Kids who drink soda pop and other sugar beverages may be too full to eat healthy foods at meals and snacks.

Move to fat-free skim or low-fat milk to cut fat and calories. Fat-free skim and low-fat milk have all the nutrition of whole milk with little or no fat. They are not "watered down" and they taste great.

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Updated Tuesday, 07-Jun-2022 10:22:04 CDT