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The NC Recre8'er - is the Blog for NC Recreation and Parks Professionals. We will feature posts from NCRPA members and staff about all the latest news, insights and tips in our field and around the state. Topics will include but are not limited to: Health and Wellness, Outdoor Recreation, Athletics, Advocacy, Aquatics, Therapeutic Recreation, Special Events, Marketing, Parks and Greenways, Cultural Resources and more! If you are interested in being a guest blogger please contact Matt at NCRPA or 919-832-5868. The opinions of The NC Recre8'er (NCRPA) blog contributors don't necessarily reflect the editorial position of North Carolina Recreation and Park Association as a whole.


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June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month!

Posted By Matthew Carusona, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer is here and the weather is warmer, especially this past weekend. Thankfully you can grab a fresh slice of orange or watermelon to cool you down! June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month and this week’s blog will highlight a few resources to get more fruits and vegetable on your plate whether it be at home or at work as part of your programs!

Buy in Season, Buy Local: Have you ever wondered, what’s in season? Well the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services makes it easy with their NC Produce Availability Chart. This chart can be used for finding the freshest and best tasting produce available. Buying your produce at a local farmer’s market, or grocery store that sources locally further ensures your produce is fresh; better yet, see if you can buy direct from a local grower. Additionally extra fruit and vegetables can be frozen and used later for anything from smoothies to fruit desserts.

Grow a Garden: Teaching citizens about healthy eating is important, but they cannot put that knowledge into practice if they do not have access to healthy food outside of class. Community gardens are a fantastic way to promote healthy eating. They can help teach people where their food comes from, and give them a chance to connect with their neighbors. Gardens can be small or large, but even a small garden can have a large impact on the health of your community. Check out our Community Garden Page in the wellness toolkit for more info.

Set Healthy Snack Guidelines: Parks and recreation agencies provide a lot of programming for children. Often that programming involves food, which can often be unhealthy. Providing fresh produce can be a great way to keep things healthy and expose participants to different fresh fruits and vegetables. Our wellness toolkit has some great guidelines and resources for increasing healthy snacks and food in sports, camp, afterschool, and other programs. Check out our Healthy Snack Guideline Page in the wellness toolkit for more info.

Quick Ideas: While large-scale projects are great, don't be discouraged if you don't have the resources to tackle a large project right away. Here are some easy things you can do to promote fresh fruits and vegetables along with wellness in your agency right now!

  • Healthy snack day at community center (provide fresh fruit and vegetables to each participant, or work with a local vendor to have a fresh fruit and vegetables food week)
  • Short health lesson with a healthy snack, consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables in after-school programs.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables at staff meetings.
  • Fruit Fridays! Bring a different fruit to staff one Friday each month for a snack. Include a healthy recipe if you wish.
  • Pick up veggies from the farmer’s market (or harvest them from your garden) to share with staff.
You can also check out our webinar: 10 Ways to Improve Wellness in Your Department Now!

Tags:  Community Gardens  Health  Health and Wellness  Health Eating  Healthy Cooking  healthy eating  Healthy Foods  Healthy Lifestyle  Healthy Living  Healthy Snacks  Healthy Snacks Program  Live Healthy  Local Vendors  ncrpa  Recreation  Snack Nation  Wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Heart-Healthy Food Substitutions

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, December 21, 2015
Updated: Friday, December 18, 2015

Happy Monday,

We often find ourselves cooking more during the festive winter season! This blog discusses some heart-healthy substitutions that you can incorporate in your daily meal preparation or when cooking for special gatherings.

First, flour is a very common ingredient. So instead of white, processed flour try to incorporate whole-wheat flour into your baking. Whole grains contain the entire grain, and are more fibrous than their white, processed counterparts. Secondly, unsweetened applesauce, or any fruit puree, can often replace butter or oil, as well as reduce the amount of saturated fat in your meals. Chili, pasta sauce, and heavier foods with red meat are common during the winter months. Reducing your consumption of red meat is a serious step in reducing your chances of heart disease, so consider replacing your red meat with ground turkey! This way you can still have your favorite winter meals, but a healthier version. Another healthier substitution for common ingredients is using egg whites instead of whole eggs. When it comes to baking, egg whites can generally replace the need for a whole egg.  Losing the yolk helps to cut cholesterol intake without cutting the flavor. For more healthy baking substitutes be sure to read the 9 Health Substitutions for Everyday Foods by the American Heart Association. Additionally, refer back to our Health Cooking/Nutrition Programs for more ideas and information on healthy eating practices. Don’t forget to share this information with your department and community using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Coming up in January the next Wellness Webinar will be hosted by Greg Walker of Fletcher Parks and Recreation, and Mark Scott, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Asheville. The webinar will focus on organizing a 5k run/walk in your own community. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, January 12th at 1:00pm. To register please click the link:

This coming April 2016, NCRPA is partnering with departments statewide to host the first ever statewide Recre8 5k! If you have never organized a 5k race in your community, then participating in the 5k Webinar will be extremely useful information! For more information on how to get your department involved in the Recre8 5k race, visit the race page:, or contact myself ( ) or matt (

I challenge all of you during the rest of December to engage yourself in healthy holiday eating practices and to exercise regularly. If you have any healthy eating ideas or exercise tips during the holiday season then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (colleen@ncrpa.net


Tags:  Healthy Cooking  Healthy Eating  Holiday Season  NCRPA  Wellness bulletin 

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Eat Smart, Move More NC: Holiday Challenge!

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, November 9, 2015

Happy Monday,

With November kicking into gear, the holiday season has officially begun. While planning your work and family activities, keep in mind there are plenty of options to continue to eat healthy and stay active. One way is to participate in the Eat Smart, Move More NC: Maintain, Don’t Gain! Holiday Challenge. This year marks the 10th annual Eat Smart, Move More Holiday Challenge, in-which the program offers a free seven-week challenge providing a variety of tips, tricks, and ideas to maintain your weight throughout the holiday season.  The challenge begins next Monday, November 16th, and lasts until Thursday, December 31st; check out the website for more information.

Eat Smart, Move More states the average American can gain between 1 and 5 pounds each Holiday season, and some never manage to lose those extra pounds. So how can you challenge your community and department to eat healthier and stay active this time of the year? It all truly begins with recreation and parks departments taking the initiative and becoming a role model for their community. One applicable option is to set up a health and wellbeing group within the department. Members can facilitate educational sessions for the department, including sharing ideas around healthy eating and staying physically active during the next couple months. The collaboration of healthy recipes, tips, and ideas will benefit your department and ultimately extend to the community. Check out our Healthy Cooking/Nutrition Programs page for more information that can be shared within your department. Staff can convey this information to the community which may increase awareness, and in-return may motivate citizens to register for holiday walks & runs, or participate in healthy food fundraising for those who cannot afford a holiday meal.  Support new holiday programs or events through your departments Facebook page, add favorite healthy recipes using Instagram, or share physical activity tips on Twitter! Social media can be a key component to let people know all the great information!


Don’t forget to encourage your departments and community to register for the free Holiday Challenge! The challenge will be beneficial and provide tips for a healthier Thanksgiving, managing holiday stress, fitting physical activity into a busy day, healthy holiday recipes and more! Be part of and share the holiday challenge, and think of how great you will feel once January 1st, 2015 comes around.


Our next webinar is tomorrow, Tuesday, November 10th at 1:00pm. The webinar will discuss a program that encourages community members to be active and physically fit. Aaron Davis and Kristen Herndon, Graham Recreation and Parks Department will be hosting. The topic will focus on the Graham Walks program, which is a 5 week incentive-based walking program held during the spring and fall. Programs like Graham Walks generates inspiration within the community for members to reach the recommended exercise per week. Please register for the webinar to learn more of how you can start programs like Grahams within your own department:


If you have any programming ideas during the holiday season then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here:(,




Tags:  Healthy Cooking  Healthy Living  Holidays  Live Smart  NCRPA Wellness 

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