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This month’s entry would have been about the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans if they were on the street…but alas, look for it SOON in 2011! If you’re looking for a surer bet right now, then aim for cheering our customers along as we get ready for February Heart Month!

full_table.jpgBetween the turn-to comfort foods (as the snow falls along with temperatures in many areas), the need to stay active, and the idea of health-smart Super Bowl and play-off parties, there are plenty of messages to share with shoppers. Here are some to consider for the aisles:

• Make contact with your local heart affiliates and think ahead for February. It’s likely a lot of the messages will mirror 2010 Dietary Guideline points. Emphasis will be on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and leaner proteins and dairy items.

• Bring beans and greens, chicken or white bean chili, and bean or lentil soups into the spotlight for some popular “warm up” foods. These are great because they also meet the heart-healthy goal and fit the budget! Recipes, demos and taste tests can all create excitement. This may be a good time for a chili cook-off featuring recipes from your own store chef’s, or local restaurants.

• Bring on the chili, slimmed-down dips, salsa and lower-fat cheeses (along with whole grain crackers, baked chips and raw veggies) for all the TV watching and tailgating that is going on right now. Suggest a chili buffet with a basic bean chili, white bean chili, and the beanless (but lean meat) chili that some prefer. Add the extras like grated, low-fat cheddar or pepper jack cheese, chopped green onions, chopped green chili or bell peppers, low-fat sour cream (or even better, Greek Yogurt), and you have a chili bar.

• Schedule some 15-minute “Lunch and Learns” in your café or conference room led by a registered dietitian on the health-smart eating theme. Pharmacists are a great addition and can answer questions on medications and choices of OTC products to fit special needs.

• Feature the joys of citrus as fruits that offer vitamin C, provide fiber, and need no added sugar! We’re right in the middle of cold and flu season, and fruits, juices, and vegetables should be a featured part of the survival kit that you and your stores promote.

[Photo credit: Bowena]

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