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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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Green Healthy Treats for St. Patrick's Day

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

With clocks set an hour ahead and the first day of spring this Sunday, it seems like we can finally start enjoying warmer and longer days ahead. Additionally, St. Patrick’s Day is this Thursday, and you may find yourself creating holiday treats to share with your department, family or a holiday party. This blog discusses some fun, healthy and green alternatives to help get you into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit!

I’ll provide the link for each healthy treat discussed so you can get the complete recipe! Pinterest also has a never-ending selection of healthy St. Patrick’s Day recipes that you can refer to as well!  First up is the healthy avocado deviled eggs, this gluten free treat requires hard cooked eggs, avocado, jalapeno, onion, chives, white vinegar, Dijon mustard and low no-fat plain yogurt and you got yourself a tasty green treat to share! Next, create your own edible rainbow by distributing strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, blue berries, grapes and banana in the shape of a rainbow with marshmallows at each end! This is a fun, decorative, and healthy fruit plate to share with your department or family! Next, create your own spinach artichoke hummus dip to share with your department for an afternoon green snack. This easy and quick recipe requires chickpeas, spinach, artichoke hearts, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, sea salt and pepper. Combine all ingredients, blend together and your dip is ready to eat! Want something a bit sweeter? Create your own pot of gold with lemon Jell-O inside a cut-out lime or green bowl, with whipped cream on top! The ideas are endless, so be sure to have fun this St. Patrick’s Day and create your own tasty, healthy, green treat.  

Remember the Recre8 5k registration is up and running (no pun intended)! The race will take place on Saturday, April 16, at various locations across North Carolina including: Statesville, Fletcher, Boone, High Point, Charlotte, Wake Forest, Graham, Concord, Vale, New Bern, Jacksonville, Roxboro. NCRPA is challenging your department to get actively involved and find a location near you to participate! Even if you department is not directly hosting, the race is still important for you to be involved in one way or another. The NC Recre8 5k is helping promote parks and recreation on a statewide level, and the funds raised will support the advancement of recreation in our state. So please help increase awareness and become involved simply by participating on April 16th! Create a running team within your department and make it a day to remember. Click the following link for more information and select a race location by you:

If you would like to share your ideas and suggestions involving St. Patrick’s Day or the NC Recre8 5k please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  Healthy Foods  Live Healthy  NCRPA Wellness  St. Patrick's Day Food 

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Heart Healthy Valentine's Day Treats

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Monday,

I hope everyone is enjoying February so far. This coming Sunday is Valentine’s Day! A day you may seek to indulge in a few favorite treats and to stray away from the healthy New Year’s resolution. However, you can still treat yourself with healthy, but tasty, treats! This blog discusses some quick, easy alternative foods to share on Valentine’s Day.

There are festive and eye-catching vegetable Valentine’s Day snacks that are easy to prepare and serve. Try celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries, or vegetable based pastries, which is a great fibrous alternative to Valentine’s Day cakes. Other healthier food alternatives include: zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, and apple bread or carrot cake. If you are baking these treats, one idea is to use whole wheat flower instead of white flour. Need a main dish? Create a healthy, veggie pizza, and add heart-shaped tomato cutouts to serve for dinner or to bring it in for a department Valentine’s Day party. You can also dip small pieces of fruit in dark chocolate for a nutritious, sweet snack. The ideas are endless, for more visit Healthy Valentine’s Day Snacks. For other healthy snack guidelines, visit our Healthy Snacks webpage.

Following theme of healthy eating. Our next Wellness Webinar is tomorrow, Tuesday, February 9th, hosted by Jill Edwards and Diana McCall, of Black Mountain Recreation and Parks. Jill and Diana will be discussing their Eat Smart Black Mountain program. Black Mountain has been extremely successful in creating and maintaining their community gardens and offering healthy eating education. The Eat Smart Black Mountain program works to promote healthy eating and active living through hands-on gardening and nutritious programs.  Register for the webinar to learn more how you can impact your community with a garden like Black Mountains:

Lastly, NC Recre8’s statewide 5k is excited to announce registration is now live! The race will take place on Saturday, April 16, at various locations across North Carolina. Click the following link for more information and to check if there are any race locations by you:

If you have any ideas for healthy alternatives for Valentine’s Day, please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  Healthy Snacks  Live Healthy  Valentine's Day 

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Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Monday,

Thanksgiving is this week, and we all know that means good food and even better company! Gatherings are becoming more popular, whether if that’s celebrating with family or work. The endless amount of treats and desserts can challenge your commitment to healthy eating, but it can be managed! In this week’s wellness blog, I will provide some tricks to reduce calorie consumption without sacrificing all the treats. Feel free to share these ideas as you plan holiday gatherings and celebrations by using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

How can you help make a holiday party healthier? WebMD: Food and Recipes has 10 Healthy Holiday Party Tips to get you started! One easy step is using smaller plates and cups, which will result in smaller portions among the guest. Smaller plates will lend a hand in guest’s subconsciously reducing the amount of food intake during the meal. While smaller cups will downsize the portions or adult beverages and surgery drinks. Be sure to offer plenty of water for people to have a healthy and calorie-free drink option. Club soda is also a good and low in sugar solution to mix with alcoholic beverages. Additionally, creating a food-free space will minimize the unconscious snacking throughout the party. According to Eating Well starting the meal with soup or salad will help the guest fill up on something light and have less room for starchy and heavier foods. There are some easy and cheap options to encourage healthy habits during the party that can be easily implemented among work and family gatherings. Need a health Thanksgiving dessert recipe? Eating Well website has Healthy Thanksgiving Cookies recipes that can be enjoyed by your guest or coworkers!

If you don’t have a “healthy holiday recipe:” try making simple substitutions to your favorite recipes, which can help to reduce calories, fat and sugar. There are smart ingredient substitutions when baking your favorite holiday meals for parties and gatherings. First, instead of using butter, substitute equal parts cinnamon-flavored, no sugar added applesauce, a healthier option then using high-in-fat butter. Another easy idea is to use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole or heavy cream in recipes. Additionally, try using half white and half whole-wheat flour instead of only white flour. Lastly, replace chocolate chips or candies with dried fruit, such as cranberries or cherries to achieve the sweet taste in your baked goods. More healthy tricks and replacements can be found on the American Heart Association website.

The Wellness Initiative wants to add more ideas among the Healthy Policy Ideas, so if you have any healthy eating party ideas or tips during the holiday season then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here:(,



Tags:  Health and Wellness  Live Healthy  NCRPA 

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