This Christmas my husband bought me a Joyce-Chen-carbon-steel-14inch-flat-bottomed-wok-with-wooden-handles-and-utensils. When he asked what was on my Christmas wish-list, this rattled off my tongue almost as fast as Ralphie and his “official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time”.
Of course, being the thorough researcher that my husband is, he also presented me with the ultimate guide and cookbook to go along: The Breath of a Wok by Grace Young and Alan Richardson. Simply WOW. Gifts to make a dietitian swoon.
Thus, we are spending our 12 days of Christmas carefully seasoning and slowly unlocking the secrets to wok cuisine. It has been a delight, as well as a great start to the 2023 year, filled with lots of fresh vegetables and new adventures in cooking. We wish you your own culinary adventures this coming year! Here are a few ideas for your inspiration. ~ Megan
For tips on various seasoning methods and some wok history, I highly recommend the book mentioned above. Here we are doing a first seasoning with high-temperature oil and green onions (that get thrown away) for flavoring. Our first couple dishes were a take on kung pao chicken (using tofu) and lemony scallops and noodles. Yum!
SEASONing’s greetings! Winter is coming, and the holiday spices are here. Chai lattes are a favorite during this time of the year and are often made with spices like cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, clove, black pepper, and, yes – cardamom! Cardamom is a spice used in many recipes and often goes unrecognized; however, it has many health benefits. Want to learn how to make the best chai spice blend for your holiday teas and lattes? Keep on reading!
Cardamom is mainly grown and harvested in India, China, and Sri Lanka but can also be found in many other countries in the Middle East and Asia. Did you know it can grow up to 16 feet tall? It is an herby plant with leafy greens, tall root stalks, and white flowers with purple tips that is known for its fruit and aromatic seeds. When these seeds are dried and ground, they give us the spice used in many foods and baked goods. It’s also used for its scent in perfumes, soaps, and lotions. Some common uses of cardamom are found in recipes for:
Cardamom is rich in micronutrients like fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium help keep muscles and nerves functioning well and maintain the heart’s rhythm. Magnesium also helps with managing stress levels and giving us enough energy throughout the day, and calcium is excellent for maintaining strong bone health.
The spice also contains phytochemicals like phytosterols which help with heart health. Studies have found that 2g of cardamom daily can reduce LDL (bad)-cholesterol and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease! This spice has also been used in ancient traditional medicine and has many health benefits, including:
With cold and flu season already here, are you ready to make that chai? Check out the recipe below and experience all of cardamom’s benefits:
Homemade Chai Spice Blend:
Makes 32 servings, store up to 3 months at room temperature.
Chai Latte Recipe:
Makes 1 serving
Nutrition per serving: Calories: 101, Carbohydrates: 16.2g, Protein: 0.6g, Fat: 4.6g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Sodium: 5mg, Fiber: 1.7 g, Sugar: 12.5
Overall, cardamom is a unique addition to many dishes with its sweet and floral flavor and aromas. It is a spice full of antioxidants that help to protect against oxidative damage to your cells, similar to cinnamon and nutmeg. In combination with its health benefits, that chai recipe sounds great right about now, don’t you think?
Erin McMahon, Dietetic Intern
Food Data Central. (Accessed on 11/9/2022). Spices, cardamom. US Department of Agriculture [Webpage]. Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170919/nutrients
Anandaraj, M. & Sudharsham, M. R. (2010). Cardomom, Ginger and Turmeric. In Verheye, W. H. (ed) Soils, Plant Growth and Crop Production. Eolss Publishers Company Limited. Chapter available at: http://www.eolss.net/Sample-Chapters/C10/E1-05A-49-00.pdf
Spices Board India. (2009). Cultivation Practices for Cardamom. Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. Available at: http://www.indianspices.com/pdf/Book_Cultivation_Cardamom.pdf
Opara, E.I., & Chohan, M. (2021). Culinary Herbs and Spices: A Global Guide. Royal Society of Chemistry, 99-122. Available at: https://web-s-ebscohost-com.proxy.lib.umich.edu/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/ZTcwMHhuYV9fMjk4ODEzNF9fQU41?sid=7ec4c595-7271-4fce-9a16-0203be69a699@redis&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1
Peter, K.V. (2012). Handbook of Herbs and Spices: Vol. 2nd ed. Woodhead Publishing. Available at: https://web-s-ebscohost-com.proxy.lib.umich.edu/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/ZTAwMHhuYV9fNjgwNjQxX19BTg2?sid=a79fa0a8-5d60-4397-a0e3-63938e4e21ee@redis&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1
Charles, D.J. (2013). Antioxidant Properties of Spices, Herbs and Other Sources. New York, NY : Springer New York : Imprint: Springer. Available at: https://link-springer-com.proxy.lib.umich.edu/content/pdf/10.1007/978-1-4614-4310-0.pdf
Have you ever heard the phrase “eat the rainbow”? Often used by dietitians, this tip is the easiest way to encourage eating a variety of produce. While this is a fun phrase, and you might already know the importance of eating fruits and veggies, why should you eat a rainbow of produce? Why does this quippy motto matter? The answer might surprise you: fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, chemicals that give them their varying colors.
What are phytonutrients?
The prefix phyto- means plants, so a phytonutrient is a nutrient you find in plants! They’re also known as phytochemicals and are present to protect plants from threats in their environment. Just as these natural chemicals protect plants, they can help protect us as well when we consume them. Phytonutrients have been shown to decrease the risk of diseases and improve overall health. Hundreds of different phytonutrients can be found in our food; Different colors of produce contain higher amounts of specific nutrients.
Different colors and their phytonutrients
Red, orange, yellow, green, and blue-purple are the main subgroups of colors containing unique phytonutrient properties.
Red: red produce includes antioxidants that can contribute to decreased inflammation in the body. Antioxidants help prevent damage to cells by fighting off harmful substances that enter or are produced in the body.
Recognizing Phytonutrients in our Fall Produce
As the season changes and new fruits and vegetables emerge, we can identify the phytonutrients in our farmer's market hauls to infuse color into our fall recipes. A few of these foods come in more than one color, making it more convenient to diversify our plates.
Eating an assortment of colorful fruits and vegetables can bring a vibrance to your plate and your life! Incorporating more produce into our diets helps prevent disease and promotes healthy processes throughout our entire bodies. Aiming for three different colored fruits or vegetables at each meal is a great way to take advantage of the rainbow of seasonal produce available.
Happy Fall Season everyone!
Greta Kramer, Dietetic Intern
Nothing says summer like bright, red cherries. Cherries are often used in staple summer desserts, but that isn’t the only way to use them! You can use cherries to sweeten up any smoothie or salad, and they can also be used in savory dishes. A homemade cherry sauce pairs nicely with grilled chicken breast or pork chops. Let’s learn more about the different types of cherries, how to use them, and what health benefits they have!
What nutrients do cherries provide?
Not only are cherries delicious and versatile, but they have health benefits too. Cherries are a good source of potassium, which helps our muscles contract and helps control blood pressure. They are also rich in a compound called polyphenols. Polyphenols work to reduce damage to the cells in our body and reduce inflammation. They can also protect against certain chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes. Cherries have small amounts of other essential minerals as well, like copper and magnesium.
Cherries and… melatonin?
Cherries also have melatonin, which is unique because not many plant foods are good sources of it. Melatonin is a chemical that our brain releases in the darkness to help regulate our sleep cycle. You may have seen melatonin supplements before that help you fall asleep at night!
Each cherry variety has a different peak season throughout the summer. The popular Bing cherry has the longest season, spanning from early June to mid-August, making them easily accessible throughout the summer! Other varieties, like Chelan and Tieton, are best only in June, so grab them before it’s too late! The graphic below shows the cherry seasons in the Northwest.
Sweet or Sour?
Cherries range in how tart or sweet they taste, making some varieties better for baking and some better for eating fresh. The popular Bing cherry we mentioned before is great for all uses because it is sweet with just a hint of tartness. There is wiggle room to add some sweetness for a dessert, but they are still sweet enough to snack on! The Morello cherry is a tart variety, so you may not want to eat them raw, but they are perfect for baked goods. Lastly, the popular Maraschino cherry. Maraschino cherries are not their own variety. Maraschino is a method of preservation that gives these cherries their bright red color! Because of the sweetness of these cherries, they work best as a topping for your ice cream, cocktails, or milkshakes.
Where should I get cherries?
To buy the cherries for your summer recipes, try picking your own. Many small producers will allow the public to come and pick cherries from their trees, and it’s usually cheaper than the store or farmer’s market. Search for a u-pick cherry orchard in your area and call your friends or family for a fun summer activity. You can start by searching the Pick Your Own website for farms in your area. Did you know that Washington State is the largest producer of sweet cherries in the entire nation? It’s a great place to go cherry picking!
Have a cherry-rific summer!
Emma Suzuki, Dietetic Intern
Gropper SS, Smith JL, Carr TP. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Cengage Learning; 2018.
The good: Omega 3 Fatty Acids & Vitamin D
Fish and seafood have unique health benefits that can be difficult to get from other foods. You may have read before that fish have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are dietary unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are fats that are in their liquid form at room temperature (think olive oil and canola oil). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health and heart health and can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s Disease.
Fish and seafood also have vitamin D, which is not abundant in many foods. Many people, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, struggle to get enough vitamin D from the sun. Incorporating fish into our diet is a great way to combat this! Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines, have more vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids than fish with less fat.
What about mercury?
While they do have important nutrients, nearly all fish and seafood have varying amounts of mercury. Larger predatory fish (fish that eat other fish) generally have more mercury than smaller fish. It is good to avoid eating high-mercury fish often, but this is more of a concern for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children. For most people, eating low-mercury fish often is not harmful, and eating high mercury fish sparingly is okay, too. The Food and Drug Administration has done some work for us and created a list of fish with the lowest and highest amounts of mercury to guide your choices – see below!
Fish and the environment
Like many foods, fish and seafood have sustainability considerations. The ways fish are harvested in the wild and fish farms have a varying impact on the environment. Some commercial tools can affect the physical environment, and some can catch species unintentionally. Certain seafood types are caught using tools that drag across the bottom of the ocean, like in the photo below. This can damage the seafloor and can displace other bottom-dwelling species. Some methods of catching fish and seafood allow for a more intentional capture, where the likelihood of catching and harming unwanted species is much lower. Explore Fishing and farming methods | Seafood basics to learn more about how different types of fish are caught!
You can also look for specific certifications on your seafood packaging for sustainable options. Here are a few examples:
How much seafood should I eat?
It is recommended to have two servings of fish per week, and these servings should be around 3-4 ounces (the size of your palm). If you are concerned about mercury content, you can choose from the “best” or “good” choices in the table above!
Try these easy recipes for new ways to add seafood to your diet:
Easy Pesto Salmon by A Couple Cooks
One-Pan Seafood Roast by Cassie Best
Shrimp Fajitas by The Modern Proper
Fish and seafood are delicious and beneficial protein sources to add to our diet. Explore types of seafood and sustainable options to find the right way to incorporate fish into your week!
Emma Suzuki, Dietetic Intern
There are many products out there claiming to defy the process of aging or, better yet, reverse the clock. While there is no cure for aging, there are ways to keep your skin strong and healthy. You can start by changing perspective to look at what causes initial signs of aging. I am referring specifically to wrinkles, dark spots, inflammation, and overall dullness. Bioactive compounds found in foods are able to help combat aging through oxidative defense, lowering inflammation, increasing collagen production, and protecting against UV-ray damage.
The damage begins at the cellular level with free radical damage, also known as “oxidative stress,” which is the root cause of many diseases. Therefore, it is no surprise this oxidative damage can also affect our body's biggest organ - our skin! Plants are a great source of antioxidants, which combat this damage. Typically, the more vibrance and color, the greater the benefits.
Bioactive compounds found in foods such as carotenoids, vitamins C and E, phenolic acids, and polyphenols have been shown to have positive impacts on skin health. These compounds play a role in skin health by:
Top 5 Foods to Add to Your Diet for Skin Health:
Blueberries are known for being one of the richest sources of antioxidants.
Blueberries are versatile and can be added to many dishes like yogurt parfaits, salads, or even a blueberry balsamic dressing.
2. Citrus Fruits
Oranges and tomatoes are excellent sources of vitamin C, which is important for collagen production. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, an antioxidant important for protecting the skin from sun damage.
Have oranges ready on your countertop for a quick snack on the go. It is almost peak season for tomatoes, consider homemade marinara sauce in batches, so you can freeze them and eliminate some prep later in the month.
3. Leafy Greens
Kale is another reputable veggie known for its skin benefits. Kale’s composition includes the antioxidant vitamin K, which is important for cell hydration and overall firmness. Vitamin K may also reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.
Oh, Kale-ya! Try out some homemade Kale chips; they are easy to make and are mild in flavor. Be creative and try different toppings such as red chili flakes, sea salt, nutritional yeast, or even garlic powder.
4. Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes
You drive me nuts but in a good way! Nuts and legumes are not only a good source of plant-based protein, but they also provide a positive skin aesthetic. Almonds are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), polyphenols, and alpha tocopherols (an abundant form of vitamin E found in human tissues). Alpha tocopherols are the only form of Vitamin E that has an active effect on the body. It is involved in forming antioxidants and, therefore, reducing the amount of free radical damage.
Create some trail mix with a combination of your favorite nuts, and include seeds such as pepitas and sunflower seeds. If you are looking for a sweeter flavor profile, toss the nuts and seeds in a bit of honey, sprinkle some cinnamon, and bake in the oven at 350° until lightly toasted. Nuts and seeds are also great toppers for salads, yogurts, and oatmeal.
5. Decaffeinated Green Tea
While the hydration component of green tea is important, the antioxidants are the stars. The flavanols in green tea, specifically epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), may offer some UV protection, increased elasticity, and overall bounce to your skin.
The bottom line regarding the information on food and skin health is a diet higher in whole foods is known to show significant changes in skin health and aesthetics. The best foods for our skin are those packed with nutrients, vibrance and are plant-based. An abundance of fruits and vegetables will not only benefit your skin but will also support overall health.
Julie Allocco, Dietetic Intern
Fam VW, Charoenwoodhipong P, Sivamani RK, Holt RR, Keen CL, Hackman RM. Plant-Based Foods for Skin Health: A Narrative Review. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. 2022;122(3):614-629. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2021.10.024
After a long and chilly winter, Washington farmer’s markets are beginning to fill up with fresh, colorful produce! Washington has a variety of local produce, but did you know Washington’s sandy soil is ideal for growing asparagus? Asparagus is a perennial flowering plant species - meaning it can live for more than two years. Their young shoots are the delicious green stalks seen at the grocery store. Asparagus is harvested from late February until June, peaking in the spring months. Asparagus is full of flavor and loaded with vitamin A, folate, and potassium. These nutrients are great for our skin, heart and blood health, and so much more!
Nutrients found in just 4 spears of asparagus:
Protein 1.4 grams
Fat 0 grams
Fiber 1.2 grams
Folate 89 micrograms
Potassium 391 milligrams
Vitamin A 606 IU
Vitamin K 30 micrograms
Asparagus & Skin Health
While asparagus is full of nutrients that nourish the whole body, it is especially beneficial for skin health. After months of dry winter air, you may find your skin needs some extra care. A diet low in antioxidants may prevent new collagen from forming and limit the body’s healing process. With asparagus being rich in antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, it can be a helpful addition to your spring diet to help repair your skin.
Asparagus & Blood Health
An important nutrient for blood health is vitamin K, and asparagus is rich in just that! Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and the healing process. Though this vitamin is fat-soluble and can be stored, the body only keeps a small amount, so it’s good that asparagus is in a large variety of foods. Other sources of vitamin K include green leafy vegetables like kale, collard greens, and broccoli.
Asparagus & Heart Health
Asparagus is also an excellent source of fiber and potassium, which are great for heart health! A diet high in fiber may improve heart health in many ways, such as reducing cholesterol levels and blood pressure, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. Here are some tips to make the most of this seasonal vegetable.
Tips to remember at the store:
Tips to remember at home:
Ways to Include Asparagus In Your Diet:
-By itself because why not (baked, grilled, steamed, etc.)
-Toss into your favorite pasta dish
-Bake into a casserole
-Cut spears into halves, then cook into an omelet
-Add small pieces to a stir-fry
-Spice it up! Try this Pickled Asparagus recipe by Marissa Stevens
Wishing you all a nutritious and happy spring!
Violet Lederman, Dietetic Intern
Katie Shepherd, RDN
While it’s still chilly and rainy here in Seattle, we are slowly inching our way into warmer and dryer weather! Soon we will be surrounded by Spring blossoms, the smell of freshly cut grass, and the coveted Pacific Northwest Sunshine. Spring is an exciting time of new growth! With Spring cleaning and the tradition of starting fresh, this is a wonderful time to incorporate more healthy habits into our routine. As the weather warms up, outside activities like biking, kayaking, and hiking are enjoyed by many! Activities like these depend on a strong and healthy heart to keep them going. Below you’ll find out how fats, fiber, and flavor impact our heart health and how to create habits that allow us to enjoy all of our Spring activities with confidence.
Fat in foods helps keep us fuller longer and makes our food satisfying to our taste buds! Fat found in plants typically have a higher proportion of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can lower cholesterol numbers and reduce the risk of heart disease. Generally, fatty cuts of meat and full-fat dairy products will have higher amounts of saturated fats. Wild-caught salmon is a great example of a source of omega-3, an unsaturated fat that’s excellent for heart health and, as a bonus, also high in potassium which can help regulate blood pressure.
To limit saturated fats, try some of these tips when cooking:
Increasing Fiber-Rich Foods
When we increase the amount of fiber in our diet, we can lower our risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels - all while increasing the amount of vitamins and minerals we’re getting. Fiber slows down digestion in our gut which prevents blood sugar spikes, offers prolonged satisfaction, and can help reduce eating past fullness and the feeling of discomfort associated with that experience.
To increase your fiber, consider adding more of these foods to your meals:
Our bodies only need a small amount of sodium to function. The general recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for adults is to enjoy 2,300mg or less of salt a day. However, many Americans are consuming amounts way above these recommendations. Consuming high amounts of salt can increase blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease. While reducing sodium may seem challenging at first, try slowly incorporating some of the tips below. You may be surprised at how satisfying they can be!
Tips to keep the flavor and reduce salt:
Make It Fun!
Adding heart-healthy habits to our daily eating patterns doesn’t need to feel overwhelming or boring. Start with some tips that feel doable for you and invite some friends to join in! Try having a themed dinner night where you and a couple of friends all bring a dish to share that focuses on fat, fiber, or flavor and see how creative you can get! Sometimes a little healthy competition is just what we need.
Other ideas to immerse yourself in heart-healthy habits:
Friendly Reminder: Prioritizing your heart health doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert!
In fact, dark chocolate contains flavonols that can help with lowering blood pressure. Below are two delicious recipes for when you want something sweet that’s also heart-healthy.
Almond and Apricot Biscotti makes 24 cookies
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons low-fat milk
½ teaspoon almond extract
⅔ cup dried apricots, chopped
¼ cup almonds, chopped
Optional: dark chocolate for melting
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and baking powder. Whisk to combine. Add eggs, milk, oil, honey, and almond extract. Stir with a wooden spoon until it just begins to come together. Using floured hands, add in apricots and almonds until well-blended. Place dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log 13x3 inches and 1 inch high. Invert dough by lifting plastic wrap and placing the top-side face-down onto a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut on a diagonal into 1” slices. Transfer back onto the baking sheet, cut-side down. Bake for an additional 12 minutes or until edges begin to brown slightly. Heat chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until completely melted. Drizzle over biscotti and let sit to harden.
(adapted from mayoclinic.com)
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt makes 4 cups
4 cups frozen strawberries
3 Tablespoons honey
½ cup plain Greek zero or low-fat yogurt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Add frozen strawberries, honey, yogurt, and lemon
juice to the bowl of a food processor. Process until creamy – about 5 minutes. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.
(Adapted from www/justataste.com)
Violet Lederman, Dietetic Intern
It’s the depth of winter, which means there’s little color to find in anyone’s garden. The produce section has plenty of fruits and vegetables to pick from, but which are actually in season? If you’re looking for vegetables that are in their prime and wallet-friendly, turn to root vegetables.
Root vegetables are ripe in the fall through spring and most often eaten in the winter as hearty soups and stews, bakes, mashes, and pot pies. Appropriately labeled, root vegetables are found in the ground.
So, what counts as a root vegetable?
There are over a hundred different types of root vegetables worldwide. The most commonly known ones in the United States are the following:
Other root vegetables have made a name for themselves as well, most commonly in the international districts and Asian markets. These include:
Root vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.
A 100g serving of carrots or sweet potato packs over 90% of the Recommended Daily Amount of vitamin A! Vitamin A contributes to good vision and supports immune function. Potatoes, turnips, and parsnips are excellent sources of potassium. Potassium helps regulate the heartbeat and keep muscles and nerves functioning properly. Root vegetables are also low calorie, at just 100 calories per cup.
Some root vegetables have interesting origins.
Sweet potatoes and yams were first cultivated in South America and Africa and slowly made their way to the United States with the colonial wave. Taro, an Asian root similar to the potato, may have been cultivated as early as 5000 BCE and predates rice as the main starch in the East Asian and South Asian diet.
Not all root vegetables are the same. In fact, there are many different categories.
Bulbs: Like fennel, shallots, and onions, they have a distinctive layering in their flesh and high water content. Bulbs are essentially underground stems that the plant uses for storage to survive the colder months. They are typically used for flavoring due to their pungent taste and odor, and they have a sweeter flavor and softer texture when cooked.
Corms: Like celery root and water chestnut, corms are very similar to bulbs, but they lack the layered scales that characterize bulbs. Like bulbs, they are also underground plant stems used for nutrient storage during the winter.
Tap Roots: Like beets, carrots, and parsnips, taproots are a swollen central root of a plant that breaks off into smaller, tendril-like roots. They are typically hard when raw and soften when cooked.
Tuberous Roots: Like sweet potatoes and yucca, tuberous roots (tubers for short) are typically the base of the root and part of the stem that can protrude from the ground. They are swollen nodules of the plant’s root system and do not require much digging to be removed from the ground. An excellent example of this is the Casava plant, cultivated in South Asia and used for savory dishes, desserts, even to make reusable bags!
Rhizomes: Like ginger, turmeric, and garlic, rhizomes are typically used for seasoning other foods. Rhizomes, unlike the roots listed above, grow horizontally rather than vertically. They contain antioxidants and become more aromatic when cooked.
Tubers: Like potato and yam, tubers are different from tuberous roots. While tuberous roots are swollen nodules of the plant’s root system, tubers are swollen plant shoots used for vegetative reproduction.
Produce costs vary by season
When in season, root vegetables are budget-friendly. A pound of carrots can cost as little as $0.99, and a pound of beets $1.12. If you’re looking for a nutritious, affordable, and versatile vegetable to add to your dinner plate, root vegetables are the way to go!
Emily Strawn, Dietetic Intern
Winter is here and in full swing! Thanks to weather changes, nutritional needs change from season to season. In the winter, we are constantly switching from cold outdoor temperatures to dry, heated indoor environments, increasing the risk of infection. One of the best ways to sustain a robust, healthy immune system this winter is by maintaining a balanced diet rich in various nutrients and incorporating daily movement. Sticking to a balanced diet won’t prevent you from getting sick necessarily, but a well-supported immune system can help better protect you. So, the question is, what foods will support our immune system and overall health this winter? Here are a few tips to keep in mind during these colder months of the year!
Vitamin D deficiency is quite common and
is associated with:
Food Sources of Vitamin D:
Some examples include:
There are several foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like:
Here are two delicious recipes that are packed with nutrients and perfect for the wintertime ~
Ultimate Winter Salad
Yield: 8 entrée servings or 16 side servings
6 oz. weight shredded kale
½ small lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
6 oz. weight shredded vegetables (Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots)
2 medium apples, cored & diced
1 ½ cups candied pecans (see note)
4 oz. weight crumbled goat cheese
1 ½ cups roasted delicata squash (see note)
½ cup pomegranate arils
For the Dressing:
½ cup red wine vinegar
4 tsp. whole-grain or Dijon mustard
4 tsp. pure maple syrup
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Put the shredded kale in a large salad bowl. Add lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Use your hands to massage the lemon juice and olive oil into the greens - about a minute or so. The kale should wilt slightly and deepen in color.
2. Add the other shredded vegetables/greens, chopped apple & candied pecans to the bowl.
3. Make the dressing by combining all of the dressing ingredients in a lidded glass jar or canning jar. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour the dressing over the salad & mix well.
4. Add the crumbled goat cheese, delicata squash, and pomegranate arils to the top. Serve & enjoy!
Nutrition per serving: 330 calories; 27g Fat; 11g Protein; 17g Carbohydrates, 250mg Sodium, 375mg Potassium
Hot Spinach Dip
Yield: 3 cups (24, 2 Tbsp. servings)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained well
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
½ lemon, juiced
1 (6.5 ounce) jar artichoke hearts, drained & mashed
½ cup light cream cheese
¼ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
½ cup grated Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese
Ground black pepper, to taste
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Mix together spinach, bell pepper, garlic, lemon juice, artichokes, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and cheese. Season with pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into a 1-quart baking dish. Top with crushed red pepper if desired.
3. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly. Enjoy with whole-grain crackers, tortilla chips, bread, or your favorite vegetables.
Nutrition per 2 Tbsp. serving: 37 calories; 2g Fat; 2.7g Protein; 2.3g Carbohydrates, 82mg Sodium, 62mg Potassium
Stay healthy & warm this winter!
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!